Write an essay where you tell us what test preparation practices work best for you and why.

There are a few times in a person’s life when they are able to feel the entire spectrum of human emotion – there are few people who can say the reason they felt this spectrum was due to the fact that they forgot how to conjugate French verbs. One of academia’s lesser joys, test preparation has been breaking down students for decades. However, I have a few solutions that I use to make sure I (as well as my grades) stay together.
For me, the first step of test preparation is making sure I like the class and am engaged with it, because if I’m not, I’m not likely to want to prepare for a test well. One of the most important things I’ve learned to be proactive in finding a suitable place to study – I try to find the quietest place I can, as I tend to be easily distracted. In that same vein, if I’m studying from a laptop, I make sure the only tab open is the immediate study tab.
I’ve found that doing practice problems or exercises are particularly helpful for me. I saw the results of this in an astronomy class last semester – I did practice exercises before an exam, and got the highest score on any exam I had taken in that course up to that point. When I must read for classes I try and take notes over what I’m reading, and because of that I will usually be able to recall information more easily in lecture or on the homework than if I hadn’t taken notes. Rather than notecards, I use spreadsheets or tables to remember information, and print them out when possible so I’ll have a physical copy with me.
For comprehensive tests, I will go through past worksheets or problems, and will print them from the course website and complete the exercises again to make sure I really learn and understand the concept. I did this for a French class I recently finished, and thus received the highest grade out of any exams I had taken in that course. With these developing habits and the results that have come from them, I’m confident that I’ll be able to improve on exams in the future!

Laura from Iowa
College Freshman
University of Iowa