Rethinking how memory works…
Its job is to make sense of the world and keep you safe. It’s not bothered about exams. It is bothered about your comfort and ultimate survival. So unless you want to forget what you’ve learned (80% or more within 24 hours or in even less time!) you’d better have a good way to keep it in your head.
Loads of research, and the latest from Perdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, demonstrates the importance of self-testing.
There’s a right way to do this and a wrong way, so you need to know which is which. ‘Right’ just means that it works. And the time to start self-testing, is while you’re actually studying the material in the first place.
People in the Perdue Uni experiment who self-tested while they learnt 40 Swahili words could still remember 80% of them a week later. Now, that’s a result!
And as a bonus, more research, this time from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, indicates that it’s the act of trying to recall information that strengthens the brain’s pathways and consequently, the memory.
So, as long as you’ve wracked your brains for the information first, being told the correct answer afterwards was just as effective to retaining the memory as getting the answer right the first time.
That should reassure those of us who are beginning to become forgetful in our old age!