The Testing Effect and Why Quizzing Yourself Works
The testing effect refers to the finding that retrieving information from memory through self-testing and quizzing improves long-term retention more than just re-reading or re-studying the material.
The benefits of quizzing yourself include:
- It strengthens memory storage. Retrieving information requires activating memory traces, which strengthens and reinforces them.
- It identifies gaps in knowledge. Struggling to recall information shows you what you need to study more.
- It simulates real-life retrieval. In the real world, you have to recall information from memory to use it.
- It spaces out study sessions. Self-quizzing forces you to re-study the material at spaced intervals.
- It boosts confidence. Being able to recall what you've studied on your own builds confidence in your knowledge.
Some ways to self-quiz include:
- Cover notes and try to recall facts, definitions, processes, etc.
- Use flashcards and try to recall answers without looking.
- Create practice tests and quizzes for yourself.
- Have a study partner quiz you.
- Use apps, websites and software that provide quizzes.
The more frequently and consistently you self-quiz, the greater the benefits will be for your long-term retention and memory of the material.