Most people dread the moment when they have to do a test to assess what they’ve learned so far. For many the fear of tests and quizzes comes from school, where our abilities are tested from a young age.

Tests are not just a good way of measuring our current ability though; they may help improve learning. A new study by researchers at Kent State University shows that taking practice tests improves memory – particularly ones that involve attempting to recall something.
Testing also supports encoding information in a memorable way – particularly useful for foreign language learning, as researcher Dr. Rawson notes:

“Suppose you were trying to learn foreign language vocabulary,” she said. “In our research, we typically use Swahili-English word pairs, such as ‘wingu — cloud.’ To learn this item, you could just repeat it over and over to yourself each time you studied it, but it turns out that’s not a particularly effective strategy for committing something to memory.

“A more effective strategy is to develop a keyword that connects the foreign language word with the English word. ‘Wingu’ sounds like ‘wing,’ birds have wings and fly in the ‘clouds.’ Of course, this works only as well as the keyword you come up with. For a keyword to be any good, you have to be able to remember your keyword when you’re given the foreign word later. Also, for a keyword to be good, you have to be able to remember the English word once you remember the keyword.” (Source: Science Daily)

So next time there’s a quiz in your class, don’t dread it – use it as a way to remember more!