Why in the world would a tutor tell you not to study? Well, what you think of as studying may not be the best way to be learn or prepare for tests and exams.

What I mean by studying is when you act like a sponge and try to absorb information into your brain by reading, highlighting, or taking notes in order to prepare for an exam or test.

Some social scientists have found that there are other ways of learning information and other circumstances that may actually lead to better learning outcomes.

The Testing Effect

In 1992, researchers at the University of California San Diego, Pashler and Carrier, completed a testing effect study. The first group of people received information to study and were tested on it later. The second group was given the test up front, meaning they weren’t allowed to study at all. The second group was then allowed to have a review session, where they figured out what they got wrong and studied that information. When the second group came back to take the test again, each person scored much higher on the test. Surprisingly, the first group didn’t do as well on the recall test as the second group. (learn more about the testing effect on Wikipedia)

The study proved that when you’re required to recall information, it helps you actually learn it. And, when you go over information that you’ve gotten wrong before, that also helps you learn. You can be a more effective learner if you incorporate this idea into your everyday studying, learning, and preparation for tests. Here’s how:

Make your own test

Before you even open your textbook, think of questions that your teacher might ask on the test, set them up on a piece of paper, and treat it as a test. You can always go through the textbook afterward to correct your mistakes and find out areas to focus on. Or, you can even do this with a study guide. Rather than flipping through your textbook and going back and forth like a drone, see how many questions you can answer without looking at the textbook. You’ll probably be surprised by how much information you’ve retained and recalled!

Study old quizzes

To prepare for a big unit test, go back and look at your quizzes rather than studying bits and pieces of information from a textbook. Go over the problems you got wrong and try to figure out how to get them right. You can also write yourself a new quiz that’s based on the old one. Write down the same types of questions, but change them slightly. Some teachers write tests by drawing from quiz questions, so it’s always a good idea to go over your old quizzes when you study.




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