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

On what day did the US declare war on Korea? Which of FDR's New Deal agencies employed Americans to do labor in parks and rural areas? Who created the first national bank? Approximately one year ago, I was deep into my preparation for the AP US History exam. I made myself busy cramming dates into my head, memorizing every different political party that has operated since the Federalists and Anti-federalists, and much more so that I would pass this exam and hopefully attain college credit. I asked myself questions like these and used flashcards to memorize all of the information that I had learned throughout the year, but I found that nothing seemed to stay very long and everything mixed together into a senseless mess in my brain. At this point, I realized that I needed to make changes because I was running out of time. This was when I tried my new favorite study method: conversation. I would bribe my friends to listen to me talk for five to ten minutes about a given topic, and they hadn't taken the class so naturally they had questions. Through the process of explaining to others, I saw myself grow to understand the material on a deeper level as well. It takes more than surface-level knowledge to explain the New Deal to someone, you have to be able to explain the why and the how and the when until it all makes sense as a cohesive unit. I used this method for several weeks leading up to the exam and I quizzed myself on the little details and I reread the textbook until finally the day came when I had to sit down and use everything I had worked so hard to learn without any help. In June or July I heard back and I passed with a 4. I am confident that without my new process of talking about what I am learning to my friends, I would not have been able to pull of that feat. Now, I keep using this strategy and it has yet to let me down. I never knew studying could be both fun and effective.

Gillian from Illinois
High School Senior
Plainfield Central High School