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Learning for Tests
Learning for tests is a procedure that is better performed over two nights than one. Therefore, when you are notified about an upcoming test, prepare to learn two days before. This concept may seem ridiculous to some people, however it has some distinct advantages over learning on the night before:
- by the end of the first night, if you donít understand a concept, you will always have the day after to 'follow it up'
- the time between the two days can be used to test your memory
- the task of learning for a test can be easily and neatly split in two (see later)
- there is less pressure to learn on the night before since the load is spread over two days
- less panic is involved(!), so you are more likely to have a relaxed and therefore more effective approach to the tasks at hand
If it is not possible to use this two day approach, all of the following information still applies, however you will have to compress it into one night (and probably spend the entire night) and in some cases, cut corners!
A good procedure for test preparations is as follows:
Throughout the last year of school, I experimented a lot with different learning techniques and I have found this method (above) to be the best. The basic concept is to make the brain exercise storage of information and then retrieving that information straight away and then later on. In essence, your memory is like a muscle...use it and it will grow.
- two nights before the test
- quickly go through notes that you have made in class, along with the textbooks
laid out around you with your writing space in the middle of it all. Note from one of these
sources at a time... use whichever is best in each section. After you are finished, you should
have a collection of neat, easy to read and concise notes of the test topic.
- spend another few minutes going through textbooks/worksheets/quiz books to gather together
a set of questions that will test your skills and memory on the appropriate topic.
Especially choose ones that you got wrong in class or for homework. If there are tables of information to remember, photocopy the table (or write another one up) with a lot of blank spaces
. You can then test you memory by covering up these spaces with a piece of paper, and attempt to write down the answers. Be inventive in this area, so long as you will have to exercise skills or memory.
- the night before the test
- begin to learn your revision notes...there are many methods to learn things quickly (text or numbers). The human brain remembers most effectively when it is presented with information and then asked to recall it seconds later, then minutes later, hours, days and so on. When the persons mind eventually forgets and is reminded again, it will be able to remember the piece of information for a longer time than before. Hence, the brain will remember for longer before forgetting next time.
For example, if you hear an advertisement once, and you are asked to reproduce it two days later, you are likely to do a worse job than when you have heard it ten times. This is a simple concept which also applies to learning schoolwork. Take full advantage of this concept, this allows most people to remember more information at a faster rate
- do the set of questions that you had set for yourself the day before... DONT CHEAT! This is one of your best opportunities to see how you will perform in the actual test. If you want to be perfect, work out how many marks each question would be worth, and then calculate how much time you would need to complete that question. This may seem finatical, however, this is what should be done in exams...so its good practice!
- after you have done these questions, test yourself on the notes again briefly before marking the completed questions
- mark your questions as the teacher would, ie donít give yourself leniency just because you knew what the answer was but you answered differently and lost a mark! This is cheating!
When you have finished, give yourself a mark...this mark is what you will probably get in the test (assuming you found similar questions and so on)
- if you achieved a satisfactory mark in your little self test, then continue...otherwise you may wish to repeat the memorizing and testing stages!
- get someone other than yourself to test you orally from your notes. This is not absolutely essential, however it will help.
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