Monday, 24 January 2011

What we know from science about how to pass your exams

Whether you’re cramming your specialist subject for an appearance on Mastermind, or trying frantically to learn lecture material for an impending exam, there is abundant evidence from cognitive psychology of some strategies that might help.

For many years, researchers considered that the traditional method of simply repeating information over and over to yourself, while improving long-term memory for the information to some degree, was far less effective than so-called “elaborative” processing, which involves relating the to-be-remembered information to other associated facts and previous knowledge. However, new research published this week in Science by Jeffrey Karpicke and colleagues indicates that an even more successful strategy can be to repeatedly test yourself on the information.