Do tests effect learning?

A research study led by Alice Latimier determines whether pre or post-testing students influences their knowledge retention

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In any laboratory or classroom setting, remembering the content presented is important to a students academic progress. Teachers often set up retrieval practice exercises to test students acumen in retaining and communicating the knowledge they acquire during lessons. A French research team led by Alice Latimier wanted to test whether pre-testing students before learning about the topic or post-testing students after the fact, benefited learning outcomes.  

285 participants were evenly distributed into three groups to test the learning effects of  pre-testing (the Quiz-Reading condition), post-testing (the Reading-Quiz condition) and re-reading (the Reading-Reading condition) on long term memory by completing an online module. 

The results of the analysis demonstrated post-testing had an advantage over pre-testing. The authors suggested the factors that might have contributed to these results included consolidation of knowledge following completion of the quiz at the end of the lesson and also, students who participated in the quiz prior to learning the material received more negative feedback about their results, which detracted away from the students confidence and motivation to learn further.   

For a more detailed discussion about the results, please follow the link to read this free and open access article: Does pre-testing promote better retention than post-testing? published by npj Science of Learning.

Gabrielle Ahern

Managing Community Editor, npj Science of Learning Community

I have developed an interesting portfolio of skills and experience in science communication and content creation. My qualifications include a BA (GU), BMarSt.Hon (UQ), CertIV in TESOL (ACC), GCertTertTLP (UOW) and a GCertJ (UQ). You're welcome to contact me, if you would like to join the Community and contribute a blog about the mind, brain or education space.


Go to the profile of Jarlath McGill
over 1 year ago

No. But it may affect it.

Go to the profile of Gabrielle Ahern
over 1 year ago

Thank you for your comment Jarlath. It is time well spent reading this article as the authors research results present some valuable insights for teachers to consider when planning their lessons.