Try It! An Easy Trick to Ace an ExamIf you want your teenager to do better on tests, here's an interesting trick: He should tell a friend what he has learned. Students who receive information and then re-tell it to someone else immediately recall the details better and longer than if they just re-read it in a textbook--a strategy that could pay off big time at test time.
The study: Led by Melanie Sekeres, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the team recruited three groups of 20 undergraduate students with an average age of 21. Each group watched 24-second obscure clips from more than 40 foreign films in rapid succession over a 30-minute period. (The clips chosen were so obscure, it is unlikely the students would have seen them previously.) The films all contained brief scenes of normal, everyday events that mimicked the kind of events you might experience in a typical day, such as a family having dinner or kids playing at a park.
The study focused on how well the students were able to retain information on the films' plots, as well as sounds, colors, gestures, background details and other peripheral information, all of which would allow them to re-experience the event in rich and vivid detail.
To assist them with recall, the second group of students was later given brief visual cues from the films, such as a glimpse at the title or a sliver of a screenshot, while the students in the third group used the "replaying" method of memory retention, telling someone else about the films soon after viewing. The first group served as a control group and received no special memory cues.
The "replaying" method takes considerable effort, but it can be worth it. "We tell students to test yourself, force yourself to tell someone about the lecture," explains Sekeres. "Even by writing out some questions for yourself about the information, then later answering them yourself, you are more likely to remember the information."
The study findings were published in the journal Learning & Memory.