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

Throughout high school, I considered myself to be a "bad test taker", typically scoring grades that were rather unrepresentative of what I had actually learned in the course. In fact, my SAT and ACT scores were barely sufficient to grant my admission into the University of Pittsburgh, despite my respectable high school GPA.

Currently, I am a a Junior in college and I believe I have finally found a set of practices that allows me to prepare for tests and get better grades. Essentially, the type of preparation needed will depend on the class. For example, I would pursue a set of practice problems for an exam with written problems (typically seen in math courses) and a set of flashcards to commit definitions or translations to memory for multiple choice exams (as seen in language and many business classes). Creating or using a study guide will help for most exams, especially if practice tests are provided. Taking these practice tests can likely give an accurate prediction of the grade to be expected on the actual exam.

While these methods are extremely helpful in preparing for tests, it is worth noting that proper time management is crucial in properly bolstering the effectiveness of the preparation. Studying flashcards or study guides in blocks of time spanning over a few days prior to the exam will be much more effective than quickly flipping through flash cards and cramming study guides either the night before or in the hours leading up to the test. In fact, it has always helped me to forego the midnight cramming in favor of a good night's sleep. The morning of the exam, I prefer to wake up early, eat a nice meal, and go over the test prep material. At this point, I can verify that I am well prepared and go into the exam feeling confident and not stressed or worried. While I wish I would have used these preparation practices back in high school, I'm definitely glad I figured them out now!

Nicholas from Pennsylvania
College Junior
University of Pittsburgh