Blog – March 24, 2014

A high school student was asking us today if he would be better off coming in several times right before tests and exams instead of regularly each week. His logic was that he would probably come in the same number of hours over the course of the semester, but would concentrate most of his hours closer to exam time.

We understood his logic, but explained why it was better for him to come in regularly throughout the semester. It comes down to long-term memory vs. short-term memory. Simply put, when people learn new material at a steady pace (one unit at a time), they master the material – it becomes a part of their knowledge base. When people cram, they are memorizing, and chances are, that they will not be able to retain the information for long, or won’t be able to “apply” the facts.

So what does this all mean to the student? Well, when the time comes for exams, he would have to re-learn each topic all over again, almost like it is brand new to him, instead of just using his time with us to review the material. Perhaps he’d be able to retain the information long enough to successfully write the test/exam, but success isn’t about memorizing – it’s about learning and understanding the material. Knowledge base is essential for future academic success – one can’t build the second storey of a building, if the first storey doesn’t have the proper foundations in place.

He understood and agreed with this analogy. He will understand and agree even more in June, as he strides confidently into his exams (on a good night’s sleep), and walks out with the same, self-assured smile feeling so good about applying his knowledge…