John Medina, author of Brain Rules, recently talked about how we remember:
1) The more elaborately we encode information at the moment of learning, the stronger the memory.
2) Retrieval may best be improved by replicating the conditions surrounding the initial encoding.
What does this mean for teaching and learning the SAT?
Yes, I could just say, “Don’t answer the hard questions!” but since when do teenagers listen to anything adults tell them? Talking about how vampire bunnies look cute and cuddly but will rip your throat out is a much more effective and memorable way of showing them the dangers of hard questions.
(Of course, showing them their test results in a way they can immediately visualize their performance and letting them figure out a better strategy is even more effective.)
Talking about checking the refrigerator for elephants helps students remember to check if there are any limitations on the numbers used in the problem.
Looking for pink ponies helps students get more rigorous with critical reading questions.
Practice like it’s real
Study for the SAT exactly how you are going to take the SAT – set up your environment like the testing conditions. Go to a quiet room. Work though the section without stopping. Show all your work. Be meticulous. The harder you push yourself during practice, the easier the real test will be.
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