The word ‘test’ itself is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most nerveless of students. However according to some researchers tests can help improve our long-term memory and our ability to retrieve important information when we need it. Every individual have their own study strategies, with specific habits, quirks and routines that work best for them. But there is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that the traditional approach to learning may not be as effective as it was believed earlier. In fact , studying until your eyes are almost ready to pop out of their sockets as you approach exam time is one of the most wrong things to do.
The word ‘test’ itself is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most nerveless of students.

The Effects of Testing

We consider them to check our intelligence, that how much we are exactly capable of and how much we know. But Psychologists are improvising the concept more and more that test can rather be far more beneficial to us than this. So, know the question arises HOW? Results shows that they can actually make this happen by improving the long-term memory. This makes tests suitable as well as ideal for language learning or key facts and dates storing.  After this, Under-utilizing, or not utilizing it in a more effective way will be more of a shame .

For example, while students may have their own different study habits, their overall approach to study generally looks quite similar:

prepare, prepareprepare, test.

Or it can look like this:

prepare, test, prepare, test.

However, according to researchers, what it should look like is:

prepare, prepareprepare, test.

Or it can look like this:

prepare, test, prepare, test.

test, test, test.

That’s because studying in this way is a more effective method. Psychologists call this the ‘Testing Effect’.

 Improvement of memory through testing – some research

The influence of the testing effect can be seen in two recent studies, which are outlined below.

Experiment #1

Jeff Karpicke and Henry Roediger, American psychologists, examined a group of college students by conducting an experiment to show the effects of testing on facts memorization and language learning. Students were asked to learn pairs of Swahili and english words followed by preparation of test in different ways. First group were asked to keep testing themselves on all items without skipping what they were getting right whereas the second groupwere told to stop testing themselves on their correct answers.

Results obtained were outstanding. The students who skipped items from testing, coul recalled about 35% of the word pairs.Those who kept testing themselves even after they had learned them could recall 80% of the word pairs

Experiment #2

CarolaWiklund-Hörnqvist, conducted another remarkable study in 2014 for which he got 83 students to study a series of psychological concepts for four minutesin an undergraduate psychology course. 50% of the students being part of the experiment, continued to study, while each one was presented on a computer screen for 15 seconds.

Remaining students were asked to take six tests in which their task was to suggest concept described on the screen .

At the end of the learning session, all 83 participants who were part of the test, were given a fact and asked to type in the equivalent concept. The same test was given 18 days later and again 5 weeks later.

Tested participants tested outclassed the other students on all three tests.

The students who were tested in the second case were given an additional memory booster through what is known as ‘instant response’ – that is, finding out whether you’ve answered correctly or not straight after you have provided your answer.

Getting how to learn

So if testing improved to be so successful in improving our long-term ability to recall facts, why don’t we use it to implement it in our revision plans? Some commentators have recommended that it may come down to the way that we traditionally feel about tests. It’s probably reasonable to say that most people would view standard study methods as being less intimidating and demanding than tests. As the mind is hard-wired to follow the path of least resistance, learners are more inclined to opt for the easier option.

However, it has also been noted that people show a lack of awareness when it comes to the ways we think and how they can be enhanced upon. These are what psychologist Tom Stafford refers to as ‘mental blind spots’.

So while it may seem unecessary to think that testing yourself when not properly prepared might be a good thing.

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