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

As a premed at the University of Michigan, I was forced to develop a number of productive study techniques. Before I sit down to review my notes, I think about all of my subjects individually. Each subject has one crucial aspect that students either understand and use to their advantage, or struggle with. These aspects can be broken down into memorization, problem solving, or brief memorization and then application. Once I've classified my courses, I develop tailored study strategies for each one. For the memorization courses, it's easy. You have to keep track of the book readings and not miss lecture, because your understanding of the subject is dependent on the material coming together. Have missing pieces and your entire mental schema will have holes – holes you will fall into during the exam. Problem solving courses require a different approach. Here, practice takes priority. It doesn't matter how well you understand energy and matter, if you've never solved a uniformly accelerated motion problem, you're unlikely to encounter success solving one for the first time on an exam. The trickiest courses are the ones that require both memorization and problem solving. Here, one is impossible without the other. To do well in subjects like chemistry, I have to write down and review every rule I know before I feel comfortable enough solving the problems. In this aspect, lecture digests or online topic reviews are incredibly valuable to cement one's understanding. Once the theory is down, practice becomes the determining factor behind your performance in the class. In school, whether in college or high school, every subject has its own unique combination code that needs to be unlocked for understanding to be reached. Once you've acquired it and melded your study habits accordingly, dedicated practice becomes the road leading to success.

Polina from Michigan
College Freshman
University of Michigan