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

I took self-assessments to determine my strengths. All stated that I am a planner and problem-solver. I guess I already knew this, since I am an active user of a to-do list for activities and a monthly hand-drawn white-board calendar for milestones. Since I dislike surprises (i.e. missed deadlines), I set up this visual system to capture what needs to be done, what is required to do it and by when. For example, I write the SAT test date on my calendar. My to-do list captures my need to 1) arrange a ride, 2) bring my pencil, calculator and ID. Both tools are part of my daily routine and help reduce some school-related anxiety, especially with assignments.

I believe in active listening when the material is first shared in class. As a result, my notes are more like key take-aways, rather than full descriptions. I rewrite notes with greater specificity as soon as I can. This helps me figure out if I have any understanding gaps. If I need help, I then have time to get it. Once my notes are in order, I highlight important topics.

Highlighted topics are used for my 3” x 5” handwritten flashcards. My recall is better when I write my cards (rather than type). I then study and test myself using one card side, then the other, then mixed sides. The night before the exam, I retest using flashcards, but write the answers. Flashcards are marked with an “X” if answered incorrectly. I then pull those cards and study them more rigorously. If an exam is on a topic that does not lend itself to flashcards, e.g. math, I do practice problems in my textbook and check the answers.

My test preparation is ongoing. For me, it includes active listening in class, transcribing notes, and testing with flashcards or practice problems. It is essential to give yourself enough time to absorb the material. This is why my planning tools are so important to me. I use them to capture what needs to be done, what is required to do it and by when so that nothing gets dropped.

Patrick from Massachusetts
High School Senior
Bishop Stang High School