Got an Exam Soon? These Powerful Techniques Will Help You Score Better

 - Sakshi Post

Practice testing and Distributed practice are the two most effective learning strategies.

Combining the techniques of Practice testing and Distributed practise will help students retrieve information effectively from memory and give better results in an exam setting. 

An exam setting demands extraordinary focus from a student. Often times, educational institutions do not concentrate on the fundamental aspects of how a student can maximise his or her performance.

We live in a dog-eat-dog world, and quite naturally, teachers at school are caught up in the mindset of finishing the syllabi within an academic year. Therefore, little to no attention is given to various effective strategies, tips, and tricks that students can use to perform well academically. 

In this article, you will be introduced to practical learning strategies that you can implement to manoeuvre your way through the hectic period of an examination.

John Dunlosky, professor of Psychology and the Director of Experimental Training at Kent State University, in his 2013 research paper, "Strengthening the Student Toolbox: Study Strategies to Boost Learning," discusses effective strategies that students can use in order to grasp the subject matter effectively.

John Dunlosky and his peers have reviewed the efficacy of 10 learning strategies.

1) Practice testing

2) Distributed practice

3) Interleaved practice

4) Elaborative interrogation

5) Self-explanation

6) Rereading

7) Highlighting and Underlining

8) Summarization

9) Keyword mnemonic

10) Imagery for text

In this write-up, we will only discuss the most effective learning strategies amongst the 10 strategies quoted in Dunlosky’s paper.

The two most effective learning strategies are "Practice testing" and "Distributed practice".

According to John Dunlosky, these strategies benefit students of all ages because they can improve learning and comprehension of a wide range of materials and, most importantly, will help boost the student's achievement.

What is Practise testing?

Let us assume you and your friend have read a chapter in a textbook. Both of you were assigned a task to recall the most important information from the lesson. You decided to read the lesson again, and your friend took the challenging route. He/she decided to recall all the important points from memory. Who do you think would be able to recall the maximum amount of information? 

The answer is that your friend will not only have the benefit of retrieving information from memory but also boost their long-term memory. When your friend retrieves the wrong answer from memory, he/she will have an indirect effect, as the failure signal indicates that the answer has to be restudied. Practice tests can help students decide what to study in the future and what not to study. Now that you know the crux of practise testing, let us simplify this further. Practice testing, as the name suggests, is testing yourself on the subject matter that you ought to study for your exams. It is self-explanatory, isn't it? How do you test yourself? 

First, pick a lesson or an essay from your textbook, go through the text carefully, and test yourself by recalling the answers from memory. If you get the answer right, chances are that you will never forget it ever again in your life, and if the answer is incorrect, as discussed earlier, "this process will help you identify the culprit."

Second, use the concept of flashcards (ankidroid app); write down the key term on one side and the correct answer on the other. The technique of using physical flashcards or the app version, which is more advanced and effective, will help you ace those extra marks in your exams. 

Finally, you must continue testing yourself, with feedback, until you correctly recall each concept at least once from your memory. You could ask your teacher to help you with practise tests; a good teacher will most certainly give you unbiased feedback about your work.

What is Distributed practice?

Before we understand what Distributed practise is, let me ask you a question. How did you learn the language that you speak?You did not learn the language in a single day, did you? You have acquired it over a period of time. 

Distributed practice, or spaced repetition, is the idea of learning a particular concept by allowing yourself to have that breathing space (a long period of time) between each session. To put it in simple words, let’s say you have your physics exam in one month's time; instead of studying all the concepts the day before the exam, using this method, you are allotting shorter periods of time to study way ahead of the exam day. So, you’d have gone through the concept on week 1 of your study plan, and again on week 4, the evening before the exam day.

One can use this app called "ANKIDROID/ANKI," which is available on Android and iOS. The Anki app uses a spaced repetition technique that helps you memorise effectively.

According to the study, combining the techniques of Practice testing and Distributed practise will help students retrieve information effectively from memory and give better results in an exam setting. 

-By Amartya Smaran

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