The Forgetting Curve: Why hard-working kids don’t always test well

In previous posts, I’ve outlined a few trends we’re seeing with grades and testing. And all indications point to the fact that otherwise smart and hard-working kids just aren’t testing as well as they used to.

Additionally, as much as we want things like Test Optional to continue to catch on so that standardized tests are de-emphasized on college applications, we’re still left with the fact that test scores are a big part of what get kids in the door.

So what can we do about it?

One problem we see with the students we work with is not how much time they spend preparing (which can be significant), but what they’re doing with that study time.

In short: they may be studying hard, but they’re forgetting what they study.

This is because of a particular fact about how memory works that most students aren’t aware of.

This is what’s represented in the Forgetting Curve, and it illustrates how information is lost over time if no effort is made to retrieve it.

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If you’ve ever wondered why back before we had smartphones you could remember the phone number of every one of your close friends and family members… but now have to search through your contact list to make sure you have your parent’s phone number right, this is why.

Fortunately, there’s a strategy your kids can employ to avoid this issue and put their study time to better use.

It’s called Spaced Repetition, and it helps students remember more by re-introducing the information already learned at an interval that coincides with the Forgetting Curve (just before you’re about to forget).

If you’re having a hard time remembering something, you may need to review it daily at first.

But then as you get better, that interval increases to every few days… then weekly… then once a month, and so on.

Here’s a great video on how to put this strategy to good use, along with some apps and tools your child can use to put all of that hard work to better use and start improving their test performance.