Friday, October 28, 2011

Test-Taking Tips From The Experts

Because of the nature of memory, we often tell students that the best way to study for a test is to take practice tests. Research indicates that rereading study material, the method preferred by most people, is less effective than taking practice tests for two reasons: First, our brains have difficulty distinguishing between material with which we are familiar and material which we truly understand. Students may stop studying too early because they recall seeing information before, only to realize during the test that they didn’t actually understand it. Second, answering practice questions gives the brain practice at retrieving information from long-term memory, the process a student undergoes during actual testing. Students who have the opportunity to rehearse “finding” answers are more prepared to do this quickly and easily on test day.

An article in The Wall Street Journal from earlier this week covers this principle and offers other testing tips derived from a number of studies on learning. For example, nearly everybody knows that eating a nutritious breakfast on test day is important, but a recent experiment demonstrated that consumption of a nutritious diet should start a week before the test date for optimum results. The article also discusses how to balance sleeping and studying, and offers tips to help combat test anxiety. 

Students gearing up for the first round of mid-terms can access the full article here.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Steven S.

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