Exams: From cramming the night before to remembering your work

With midyear exams just around the corner, students and teachers alike are hard at work to prepare by revising work done over the past six months, writing mock tests, and compiling summaries of all subjects to be studied. However, students learn in various ways, and many of the traditional methods they follow are often ineffective as they do not retain the knowledge over a longer term.

Most students try to cram as much information as possible into their brains in the few hours prior to the exam taking place. The problem here is that the knowledge is temporarily stored in their short-term memories where most of it can be recalled during the exam. This may work well with subjects where facts can be learned and recited on request. However, students should be encouraged to adapt their studying methods so that new knowledge learned can be stored in the long-term memory instead – a long-term solution that will help in future when it is exam time again. They can then only revise the information, instead of burning the midnight oil the night before the exam in an attempt to retain information that should have been stored in the memory earlier in the year.

Crammed learning vs spaced learning

Crammed learning is when students work hard to absorb large volumes of information over short periods of time – typically before an exam, for example. Spaced learning, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, and various studies have shown that learning that goes beyond the classroom that includes contextualised and real-world connections and is formed by using research and information sharing, remains with the learning for a longer period of time. The information is not stored in the short-term memory as in the case of crammed learning but can be held indefinitely.

Flashcards

Over the course of an exam period, a student must remember a vast array of information over a variety of subjects. Crammed learning may be a short-term solution when a student must narrate certain facts learned, but in order to effectively remember a lot of information over various subjects, flashcards may be one learning tool that students can utilise.

Used in the classroom or at self-studying, flashcards can be used to test facts over many different subjects. Questions, numbers, or any facts can be written down on one side while the answer is displayed on the other side and has been proven to increase long-term memory. The use of flashcards is not a new method of studying but is perhaps one of the most effective studying tools. Further, the process of interleaving – where different facts and subjects are mixed together – has shown to boost effective learning and long-term memory, as it trains the brain to retain knowledge from many different subjects and ensures that students deviate from “parrot learning”.

ITSI recently added this enhanced feature to their e-learning platform. Built to enhance spaced learning, teachers can create flashcards to simplify revision for their learners, or learners can create their own. They are encouraged to study through the use of flashcards, enabling them to identify certain facts or subjects they struggle with more easily. To teach students facts or subjects is one thing, to teach them to study – and more important to study correctly – is crucial in today’s classroom.


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