How to Be a Better Student, Says Science

Getting back to school? Keeping it all in balance, including keeping your grades up, if a huge part of succeeding in debate! There’s some excellent tips on today’s Scientific American. Our favorite is below the fold:

“#4 Test yourself before you study. Psychologists have known for decades that taking a test helps people retain what they have learned better than if they simply spend more time studying. But recent research has revealed a surprising twist: it works even better if you take the test before you know anything about a subject, so you are all but guaranteed to get the answers wrong. One experiment from 2009, for instance, found that students who tried to answer neurology test questions before reading up on the topic recalled more information a week later than students who were given a list of keywords and topics beforehand and even students who were given the same test questions and told to memorize them. The experts haven’t figured out quite yet why this counterintuitive learning trick works, but it appears that trying—and failing—to recall the information is key. If you don’t have a practice test handy, use the questions that are often at the end of textbook chapters or turn topic headings into questions by asking yourself what the keywords mean. Take your best guess—when you find out the real answer, you may never forget it.”

via Scientific American, How to Be a Better Student.


About Lauren Sabino

Lauren Sabino is the Director of Youth Programs at the National Center for Policy Analysis. She currently administrates Debate Central, the largest free online debate resource.
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