Start Early – Make a Schedule

2017 – 2018 Scholarship Entry – Test Preparation Essay
Test Preparation Inc. Scholarship

Bethany Laquidara
Upton, MA

I thought I was used to intense test preparation, and then I took the Medical College Admission Test. This test, more commonly known as the MCAT, must be taken by anyone wishing to become a doctor. It is over six hours long (about eight hours when breaks are counted) and includes the subjects of biology, biochemistry, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology. It is the reason I almost never applied to medical school. But then I decided to give it one honest shot, with plenty of preparation time, and see if I had what it takes. What it takes, I soon discovered, is complete and total investment. Since I wanted the end result – to get into medical school – so badly, this investment came easily to me. If it did not, I probably would have had great difficulty dedicating eight hours a day, seven days a week, for three months to this test. While the MCAT is not the typical test that students encounter regularly, it did help me develop test preparation methods that I carry with me to these more common exams.

The first thing that I always do now is develop a study schedule well before a test approaches. This is a clear breakdown of what content will be studied when. Having this schedule assures that I stay on track, space my studying out incrementally, and retain the content. Once the study schedule is in place, I stick to it. Even when I feel super busy, tired, or like procrastinating, studying that day’s content is nonnegotiable. My schedule may look something like: Monday, review lectures one through three, Tuesday, review lecture four and answer practice questions one through ten, and so on. Now that I have a study schedule to follow, how do I actually study?

Assuming that I am studying for a class that gives traditional lecture slides, I review material with a small stack of white, blank paper in front of me. I label the name of the lecture at the top of the page and go through the slides, writing down only information that is both important and that I have not yet committed to memory. Amongst other things, this includes information that the professor stressed in class and content that I found confusing.

Every time I begin a new lecture, I label that lecture’s title on the page (wherever I left off) and continue the process. My goal is to have all of the exam content boiled down to between two and five sheets of paper. Once I am done, these sheets serve as CliffsNotes for my exam. They are also very helpful for final exams months later. Using this active method of studying, along with keeping up with assigned reading, attending supplemental instruction sessions, and completing every practice question offered, has greatly improved the results I see on my test scores.

How to make a study schedule

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Modified: September 3rd, 2018 September 3rd, 2018
: July 10th, 2018

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