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

Growing up, I hardly studied for tests, quizzes, and assessments. While I often saw my classmates bent over lunchroom tables, reciting facts, writing flashcards, and color-coding notes, I simply waited until the first few minutes of class rolled around, took out my notes, and reviewed the most important concepts. Definitions. Diagrams. Formulas. This system worked out well for me, until I started slacking in junior year. Although I still maintained my GPA, it was still uneasy to watch my grade drop a few percentage points. Relying on my brief recollections of lessons wasn't working out.

As a result, I started studying the same way I lived: through compartmentalization. Sifting through the different subjects - calculus, physics, literature - and sorting the information into their respective class. Unfortunately, solving a problem using another class's process (such as using physics to solve calculus problems) isn't always accepted on a test.

Before an important test or exam, I start out by taking a fresh sheet of paper and writing down everything I know, from memory. This quickly separates what I have committed to my mind, and what I still have to work on. After identifying any missing or wrong concepts, I take and break them down. Bullet lists and plenty of arrows help me target the individual details of an idea. Flowcharts and diagrams also help trace the relationships between large and small concepts. Essentially, I take the information and compile, sort, and elaborate.

I like this method because to me, it seems more organized and linear than other methods. I've never liked flashcards, because too many cards becomes confusing. Straight memorization for unfamiliar information is a quick way to forget everything you've studied. I find it hard to create, and then remember, acronyms or mnemonic devices. Separating information and then repeating the process of writing down what I remember not only helps me clarify what I need to know, but also cements it.

Kaylee from Illinois
High School Senior
Hononegah Community High School