Learning from Test Results

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the learning benefits of test taking
rows of students in desks outdoors, taking an examEarlier in this module we discussed strategies for taking tests and for reducing the anxiety that can accompany them. We also touched on some reasons why tests are such a central part of the educational experience: namely, they yield important learning data that instructors and administrators can use to improve teaching and education. You may be thinking, “Well, I’m glad to help out and provide my valuable ‘learning data,’ but what about me? Tests still seem like a cruel exercise designed to torment students and stress them out.”

In this section we offer a response to that thought: believe it or not, testing benefits you, too. Consider the following:

  • You may learn more when you take a test than when you study for it or are just taught the material. For example, if you are asked to learn five formulas for a math test, you will likely remember the three formulas you are actually tested on better than the others.
  • When you are tested—especially often—it encourages you to study more and procrastinate less.
  • The more you retrieve information, as you do during a test or quiz, the more likely you are to retain it in the long run.
  • Taking a test helps your brain organize knowledge better, and that helps you retrieve the knowledge more efficiently.[1]

So, testing is not just a method of measuring how much you know (or torturing you). It can actually help you learn. In addition, the results of a test—even when you don’t do very well—can also enhance your learning in valuable ways.

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  1. "Ten Benefits of Quizzes and Tests in Educational Practice." Getting Results. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.