People have always looked to tests for a way to, well, to test learning. But what researchers are beginning to find is that a test isn’t just something that you are supposed to go to after you are finished with the learning part. It isn’t something that’s passive and unconnected to the learning process. In fact, the test isn’t about testing it all.
If you’ve been trying to gain the right study skills to do better, you should realize that exploiting the test process is supposed to be on the cutting edge now. In fact, it’s about the best study technique you’ll ever use.
The whole thing came out in the scientific publication Science. The researchers found that if you take a test run after reading something, your chances of retaining what you’ve read climb about 50% higher than your roommate who doesn’t believe that taking tests has anything to do with learning. They found out that reading your study material repeatedly the way everyone does, is so much inferior to the test taking method. The way that teachers make their students draw detailed diagrams of everything they’re learning to help them make new connections doesn’t work as well, either.
Not only does learning through conventional methods not teach you your stuff as well as it should, it even leaves you deluded, thinking you’re doing twice as well as you really are. In the study, the test taking subjects who were only allowed to read only once and take their test actually thought that their chances of doing well in a test on the subject a week later would be pretty poor (since they hadn’t been reading up repeatedly). Not only do students who learn through tests do better at remembering what they learn, they even find gaps in their knowledge when they take a test right away, that motivates them to visit their books one more time to seek where they made a mistake.
Does test taking deserve to be in your collection of study skills? We are not computers; when we recall something we’ve learned for a test, we don’t just recall it like a computer retrieving information. To begin with, something we recall a couple times for a test becomes more ingrained. A computer has no such thing as “ingrained”. People on the other hand, remember better when to the brain, that there is an apparent reason to remember better. The stress involved in taking a test gives your brain a reason to remember what I just learned.
No wonder study skills you have influence your brain this way. The little struggle that you put yourself through to remember something at your test is what makes it possible. When you are taking a test, the experience leaves you feeling less confident in your knowledge. The anxiety you feel then makes you remember better. Reading over and over again, you just feel it’s all easy on the other hand -since you keep looking at the same thing repeatedly. That only leaves with overconfidence and an overestimation of your abilities.
This finding is brand new though; it should be some time before they bring it into the schools.