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

I am now a senior about to graduate from El Segundo High School. I have formulated a pyramid program that best suits me for test-taking. The base of this pyramid comprises of proper studying and preparation: flashcards, notes, and Youtube videos are all used. To do this, I employ mind-maps and graphic illustrations of new definitions and formulas, even for math. The next section of the pyramid comprises of physical health: exercise, sleep, and eating habits build this section. As someone who has pulled an all-nighter or two, I can confirm that the extra hour of sleep makes more difference than the extra hour of staring at a computer screen. My physical health is important to me; when my energy levels are low I notice a clear effect on my thinking. The apex of my pyramid program is the Immeasurables: things that are unique and push the 99% ready to 100% there. Human evolution has ingrained biological instincts in every human being. When eating food, pleasure-inducing hormones are released that comfort and satisfy. To best use these instincts during a test I like to chew gum. Chewing gum is comforting and gives me a way to fidget, and more importantly releases dopamine and relaxes me. Studies have shown that chewing the same flavor gum while studying as during the test can help with recollection. Whether or not this is a placebo effect, I have found that recreating as much of my study environment as possible helps my memory. I also find it helpful to have similar smells as during studying and test taking, such as wearing a distinct cologne for both. These actions may seem gimmicky, but over time I have formed these habits and believe them to be effective. However, there is no magic formula for success in tests; the base of my pyramid program consists of traditional hard work. Taking physical health and biological triggers into account gives a more holistic approach to test taking, and in my experience produces better results.

Dylan from California
High School Senior
El Segundo High