News Stories

Why Testing Works

Remember those kids who wanted to study only what was on the test? They may have cheated themselves. When it comes to schools, there is a lot of controversy about homework and testing. Homework is popular with parents, but many teachers think that it is unnecessary "busy work" that keep kids from enjoying their free time. But researchers now think there is real value in taking tests.

New research reveals that the simple act of taking a test helps you remember everything you learned, even if it isn't tested. Tests are more than efficient scoring tools, they are a powerful memory enhancer.

Three tests were done to determine the value of testing. In the first experiment, 84 students were given 25 minutes to study a long article about the toucan bird. Afterward, they were divided among three groups. Students in the testing group answered 22 questions about the material. Students in an "extra study" group read 22 additional statements about toucans, although they did not take a test. Students in a control group were immediately dismissed.

One day later, all 84 students took a final test with 44 questions, 22 of which had been on the original test taken by the first group. The students in the group that had been tested before significantly outperformed the other two groups on the 24 NEW questions as well, meaning that the very act of taking the test helped the facts to stick in their memories.

In a recent "60 Minutes" TV segment, the reporters interviewed a psychiatrist who has found that stress produces the hormone adrenaline, which enhances our memories. It's likely that the testing process, which produces stress, also helps us to remember more.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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