It’s almost guaranteed that when a teacher or professor walks into a classroom of students and announces an upcoming exam, the response will be a general groan throughout the room. And why? Because the majority of students have come to associate the word “test” or “exam” with a stressful situation, in which a teacher asks you difficult questions you just can’t quite remember the answer to.
But the truth of the matter is that testing helps you to learn. And students should probably take the time to test themselves, or get friends and family to test them more often.
Studies on effective study methods have shown that people of all ages are able to recall information with greater ease if they have been previously tested on it. The basic hypothesis of these experiments is that the more brain juice you use trying to remember something, in an exam, the less likely you are to forget it later on.
Seems silly, I know! Yet experiments carried out by Henry L. Roediger III, a cognitive psychologist at Washington University, showed that the exam results of students, who had been continually tested on certain course material, were generally higher than the test results of students, who used the universally known study techniques, such as re-reading course work, highlighting key points, etc.
So test yourself! Ask a family member or friend to quiz you, find past exams off the internet or ask for them directly from your teacher and see if you can figure them out in your study sessions. If only to give you a general idea of what sort of questions could possibly come up in the exam.
Even if you don’t agree that it’s an effective method for learning, you can’t deny that it makes good preparation, as you learn to manage your time efficiently during an exam and also to summarise key points in a clear explanation, so as not to waste time listing details that won’t get you any extra marks.
Personally, I’ve found that testing assures me that I can handle the exam that counts. I don’t agree that constant testing as a way of continually evaluating a student is necessarily a good idea, as the stress can be more harmful than the test is beneficial, but I see no harm in testing yourself in your study time. It can help you to use the information you’ve leant in the course and apply it to a practical type of question, it can serve as a repetition method to help secure the material learnt and, more than anything, when you grade your mock test and discover that you would have passed, it can give you the confidence you need to do well in the exam that counts.