Exam remembering takes practice under pressure

exam in progressFor those of you in the Southern hemisphere the final big push has arrived. The dreaded end of year exams are days away, so this week’s Neurotechnology Tip aims to help you maximize your performance, through a technique known as “retrieval practice”.

Do a mock exam

I don’t mean drag out the past papers and work through them with the textbook open – this gives your brain an opportunity to slack off.

You need to ramp up the stress levels and see how it performs during “the real” deal. So psyche yourself up, put away the books, the cellphone and all other distractions and…..


Just you and the ticking clock……

Retrieval practice jogs the memory….

But at the same time seems to solidify the memory.

The reason it is actually helping, is because in the moment when you are desperately trying to come up with the answer to the question, your brain is in a panic. It deals with the problem of missing info, by sifting through ALL the material stuck inside your brain. As it tries hard to access the memory, it is able to discard the irrelevant material and latch onto specific hooks and keywords that are important.

It is those hooks and keywords that increase the chances you will remember the fact later, because there is now a pathway running in your head from the question to the answer.

Trying circumstances cause things to stick

The purpose of the mock exam is not to cause you undue stress.

Researchers at Kent State University have demonstrated, that forcing your brain to recall something from memory, increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to remember the information later.

The reason, when your brain is studying, it doesn’t need to create the hooks and keywords to help it access the information, because, the information is right in front of it.

Pressure cooker “Remembering”

The pressure cooker induced recall of the “examination” session is ensuring that you provide your brain with the mental hints it needs, to access all the stuff you’ve learned.

This simple technique can help you avoid that very frustrating situation, that often happens in an exam …..

“ I remember learning it but ……………. what was it again

Practice makes perfect

The principle of practice makes perfect doesn’t apply only to free throws or dance moves.

Set up a practice exam session and create some heavy-duty memory hooks.

Why Testing Improves Memory: Mediator Effectiveness Hypothesis. Science (2010) 330(2006) : 335 , Mary A. Pyc and Katherine A. Rawson.

To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..

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Further reading

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Work and TV are like oil and water, they don’t mix How to avoid choking in an exam  How to download more facts into your brain 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion


Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below…..

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