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Retrieval Practice


Study Skills & Tools All Ages Strategy


Verbal Memory Visual Memory

Retrieval Practice

If your student understands but struggles with efficient retention

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will quiz themselves when studying for tests to actively recall the information, as opposed to simply re-reading text or notes.
  2. Instruction and Practice: Go over guidelines (next slide) with students for effective studying using retrieval practice. Practice together to help students see how much more effectively they retain information when they actively quiz themselves versus re-reading the material. As this method is harder, but more effective, than other strategies (e.g. re-reading notes) try ways to make it more fun for students such as a reward after three correct in a row or give hints after a few seconds.

*students* Quiz Yourself To Study

  1. Start by answering the sample test questions from your text or teacher. If available, use tests from past years as well. Identify what you still need to understand or memorize and create a list.
  2. Review your class notes and write test questions as if you were the teacher. This helps you prioritize the most important material.
  3. Think about the different formats of questions that might be on the test: multiple choice, true-false, short answer and essay. Then identify which specific details you need to memorize versus which concepts you need to understand sufficiently to write about them.
  4. Answer your quiz and check your answers. You could practice with a friend, ask your teacher or a parent to check your work.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

This type of studying is referred to as active studying as it goes beyond simply reading, re-reading or highlighting the information. Active studying forces students to do more analytical thinking and prioritizing, increasing the chance that they fully understand the most important information and can apply it in different contexts. Retrieval practice also forces a student to recall the information, not just recognize it, which significantly increases the chance for that information to remain in long-term memory and not be quickly forgotten. Finally, active studying is more likely to keep your mind engaged in your work and not wander which often happens while passively reading.

Best-suited for students with weaker: Attention, Inhibition, Long-term Memory, Short-Term Memory, Processing Speed (Source: Digital Promise Learner Variability Project)