I almost never* studied** for tests in school, for a few reasons:

1. A test should give me a sense of how well I know the material it covers; studying reduces the amount of information I’d get, or, worse, might make me think I know more than I do.

2. Things you learn while studying under impending-test pressure you’re less likely to remember later***, so it’s more efficient to learn not under test pressure than to cram for a test. (I suppose poor students might need a test to motivate them to study at all, but that’s a separate topic.)

3. I’ve almost always been far enough ahead (possibly because I spent more of my past time learning instead of test-cramming) that studying couldn’t’ve helped.

4. Some tests (think of the SAT) are designed to show the testers how you compare with other testees on the test’s content; if only some of them study, the test’ll instead show how they compare on studying time or money for tutors; even if all of them study, the test ends up not measuring what was intended, both for (2.) and because the goal of such studying is to get a good test score without whatever time-consuming-to-learn skills the test was actually supposed to measure.

Anyway, in thinking a lot recently about my Mathcamp mentor interview, I’ve realized that job interviews are a lot like tests in this sense. Trying not to think about that too much now; there’s nothing I can do but wait.****

*Possibly never: I can’t think of any examples, but I’m not sure I’d remember if I had

**Is past tense appropriate here? I think, since I’m starting grad school, that my last real test may have been my representation theory final at Princeton.

***From some study I don’t remember.

****Actually, I’m finally posting this after getting hired.

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