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

During sophomore year of high school, I didn't even know what an SAT subject test was and was scoring in the 900s on the SAT and a 19 on the ACT. By the time I applied to college just over one year later, I applied with a 35 ACT, 99th percentile SAT, and 2 perfect scores on subject tests. Something changed, but it definitely wasn't me. I wasn't dumb sophomore year - I always performed at the top of my high school class in terms of grades.
You see, like most Americans, I attended an underfunded and low-income high school where we were honestly not taught the material and skills we needed to succeed on these tests. I never realized how much material I simply wasn't being taught until I saw my friends who attended better schools score significantly better than me despite the fact that I knew I wasn't any less intelligent than them.
Most people are in that situation - they're smart, but weren't given the resources to do well from school.
I bought a few test prep books that explained, from scratch, the material I needed for the tests. It sounds stupid, but reading every single word in these books probably alone skyrocketed my score up to 59% of where it ended. I was being taught math and English in school, but not the math and English you need for the SAT/ACT. Test prep books helped me bridge that gap. How'd I learn the material so fast? Well, I developed a method. Instead of sitting down studying x hours per/day, I made learning part of my daily routine, through prep flashcards, books, and videos, I managed to learn entire subjects. I'd try to understand a concept by creating visual, auditory, and written gimmicks in my head to remember and then pretend to explain it to someone else. The other 50% of my score improvement came through practice exams. There's never enough practice exams provided by these test providers, so buying test prep books and taking practice exams is key. It's frustrating but going through problem after problem trains your brain to do well.

Milad from Washington
College Sophomore
Georgia Institute of Technology