So, How Did You Do?
By Naiche, age 15, New York
Have you ever walked into your classroom completely prepared for your big exam, thinking that those hours of cramming information about proteins or Plato's Republic into your head would actually work?
Have you ever walked out of said classroom an hour later, head down and stomach churning, knowing with full certainty that you completely bombed that test?
We all know how it feels to stare down at your blank test paper and feel like it's written in a foreign language. You feel like a wave, no, a full bucket of despair just got dumped over your head. Honestly, you just want to give the test back, run out of the room, and go cry in a bathroom stall.
You don't even know what happened. You thought that skimming the chapter five minutes before the period started made it all fresh in your mind. You thought that you had aced your mini self-test the night before! (Okay, so maybe you did let yourself peek a couple of times).
It's tough. Getting a bad grade is the most consistent source of teenage trauma. But before you completely give up on the art of test-taking and see if the circus is looking for any new acts, keep in mind that there are some fun ways to ace that test.
Let's face it; YouTube is just as up there as Google is. So before you look up another boring Wikipedia article, see if someone out there made a fun educational video on your study topic. When I was stressing about my big Biology exam, I came across a video titled "The DNA Replication Song". It was made by two college guys and covered everything from helicase to doubled strands in a catchy rap beat.
Explain It to Everyone and Anyone You Can
I love doing this on the day of or before the test. When you simply explain the information from beginning to end, you can catch your trouble areas (the parts when all you can say is "ummmm"). The best part is, the other person doesn't even have to be listening. You're doing this purely for the sake of hearing yourself talk. Try making it fun. When I explained The Iliad by Homer to people, it went a little like this: "So then Agamemnon was all, 'Excuse me?' Then Achilles was like, 'You want to fight me?'"
See What Everybody Else Is Doing
No, I don't mean study groups. While they are an option, I usually get distracted when I work in groups of people. That doesn't mean that you can't get help from your friends. Ask people who are in your class now or who have taken that class if they have any good self-made study guides or index cards. Who knows? The way they understood something could be much easier than the way you did.