Tests help us remember better

Tests help us remember better

Tests can have a powerful effect on what a student remembers.

What happens if you get an answer wrong? Common sense says if you practice making errors, you learn to make errors. But common sense also says we learn most from making mistakes.

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Problem Solving


Previous research has shown that if you're young and healthy, mistakes enhance learning. But people with memory impairments, such as ageing, benefit most from error-free learning. New research challenges all of this. Researchers found that the types of clues make the difference.

If the test is conceptual (relating new learning to information we already know), young and older people remember more from a test they didn't get right. For example, asking to name a pastry, followed by feedback that "it was a tart", rather than just giving the answer without being tested on it. With non-conceptual information, errors will not help.

In reality, it's common to write down a wrong answer and not find out the correct answer for a while. Trying to find the correct answer afterwards lead people to remember more.

There is no evidence that it's good to make errors on purpose. Teachers need to ensure that the problems students face are challenging enough, so they are engaged in productive struggle. If they don't make mistakes, they may not be learning.

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Drawing to remember

Drawing something that you want to remember is more effective than using other memory techniques.

Since drawing involves consideration of a thing from so many different angles (visual, spatial, semantic, and verbal) and also involves motor use, the brain stores a memory in more areas of the brain, thus solidifying it.

To remember something, draw it


We all make bad decisions

While we may not like to admit this, we all are making a lot of bad decisions, be it our personal lives, careers or in our jobs. Here is what research says about making good decisions:

  • You need the right information, not more of it.
  • Feelings can be utilized
  • Know your strengths
  • Make a 'good enough' decision

This Is How To Make Good Decisions: 4 Secrets Backed By Research - Barking Up The Wrong Tree


Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

These 10 Scientific Ways to Learn Anything Faster Could Change Everything You Know About Dramatically Improving Your Memory


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