PSYCHOLOGY: Post-Testanic Potentiation

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Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 437b
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5760.437b

Tests are an inescapable part of schooling, though generally less prevalent now than in days of yore. Two reasons for administering tests are (i) to assess student achievement and aptitude, and (ii) to impel students to study, and presumably to learn, the subject matter.

Roediger and Karpicke demonstrate that the actual taking of a test, as opposed to simply preparing to take it, has beneficial consequences. After being allowed to study a reading comprehension passage (preparation material for the Test of English as a Foreign Language), students either were tested for retention of the ideas or allowed a second study session; students in both groups were then tested 5 min, 2 days, or 1 week later. The study-study (SS) group performed better at first but did not score as well as the study-test (ST) group on the later test dates. An expanded protocol confirmed this pattern, with SSSS students outperforming SSST and STTT students when tested right away but with the rankings reversed after 1 week. Notably, the repeated-study students had read the text four times more than the repeated-test students had, yet they retained significantly less of the information. — GJC

Psychol. Sci. 17, 249 (2006).

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