A new article published in today’s NY Times parenting blog offers some insight into the good that can come out of test taking. Yes, we said “the good,” despite the fact that tests have been taken to task lately.
Specifically, writer Annie Murphy Paul, author of upcoming Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter, says the act of test-taking itself can help students learn and grow. Here are her strategies below, with Forcefield’s recommended apps to put each idea into action.
Self-Testing: When students test themselves — using flashcards, a practice test or just putting down their notes and testing their memory — they employ the psychological principle of retrieval. Retrieval fosters learning, bolsters retention and improves performance.
Our favorite flash-card making app: Quizlet.
Spacing Study Time: Instead of cramming, students should space self-tests every few days apart and increase the amount of time between sessions. This lets the brain partially forget, and then relearn and offers an incredibly memory boost.
Track your spaced-study schedule with Evernote.
Study the Test: Resist the urge to ignore that graded exam and review the test when it comes back. Taking actual practice tests has also shown to improve grades.
The very best SAT vocab prep app is SAT Word Slam.
Calm Test Anxiety: Before a high-stakes test, students often experience a quickened heartbeat, sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach. They interpret these physical cues as meaning, “I’m nervous,” a message from their bodies that causes them to become even more anxious. A strategy called arousal reappraisal helps students take stock of their physical state and deliberately choose to think about it in a different way. Reinterpreting “I’m so nervous” as “I’m so excited” can allow students to turn their state of physiological arousal to their advantage.
Want to calm those pre-test jitters? We love the Headspace app for its five-minute mediations.