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

I’ve always been a successful student, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions from my peers asking for help the night before a big test. Like them, I’ve also got my nose stuck in my notes, trying to prepare the best I can. However, I have a few study tips that have aided me in all of my most stressful exams. Here are a few of my favorite preparation practices to guarantee a great exam grade.
First and foremost (and this may be the hardest step for us high school students) is to mute all electronics. That’s right, “Do Not Disturb” mode on my laptop, silent on my apple watch, and my phone in the other room. Playing a game or checking social media can be magnetic, which is why I try to distance myself from the temptations the best I can.
Next, I use color-coded notes and flashcards. No matter what class I am preparing for, I use different highlighters, pens, and sticky notes to emphasise the things I need to practice, memorize, or ask questions about in later class periods. My mathematical equations are always highlighted in yellow and vocab words in blue (the ones that I know will show up on an exam may even deserve a blue underline!). For a class like Composition or Creative Writing, I highlight important text in pink and annotate in the margins with red. Even in my foreign language courses, I mark words I need to study with small sticky notes, and after I’m sure I’ve learned it, the sticky note goes away. This study tip helped pass Spanish I-IV in a breeze! Some students may find this method chaotic or confusing, but I personally enjoy the organization the color coding offers my notes.
Probably the strangest, yet most helpful, tactic I’ve used is recording myself reading the notes aloud and listening back to them. The first time I did this was my American History final, and there were eight pages of names, battles, and dates I had to memorize. The task seemed impossible, but I decided to try something new. I read aloud the definition of my vocabulary words, and then paused for a second before revealing the answer. That way, when I listened back, it was almost like a quiz, and I could fill in the answer and check to see if I was right. I found myself listening to my recording at the gym, in the car, even while walking my dog. THe tactic proved successful, as I passed the final with over 100%. I continued to do this for other vocabulary based exams, and even used it to memorize a speech for my college Composition class. I find that I am my own best teacher, and I memorize things with more efficiency when I listen to them on loop.
My final tactic that I practice when preparing for an exam took me a long time to learn. I used to wait to study my material until the night before the test, and sometimes even the day of. However, I’ve found that I perform better, and retain more knowledge after the test, if I begin studying days before the test. Yes, I admit, it’s a pain, and sometimes I would rather just wing it. But the feeling of receiving a grade that I’m proud of far exceeds the drag of preparation. I hope my study tips are able to offer some help to a student, but if you no longer need to prepare for written exams, I would consider yourself lucky!

Sloane from Kansas
High School Senior
Spring Hill High School