The best test taking tips allow you to recall the information you studied faster by using a mental movie.
The reason is that studies show how picture recall is much faster than thinking words aloud in your head or trying to use a kinesthetic or “feeling” memory of the material you learned.
The following excerpt from the book Instant Learning for Amazing Grades by Pat Wyman provides the visual or picture strategies which make up the best test taking tips.
Visual Strategies for Written Tests
When I first began teaching in the early 1970’s in Los Angeles, my mentor teachers guided me in two teaching methods that resulted in extraordinary success for my students. They gave me the best test taking tips which always helped my students get A’s and B’s.
I was always curious why these tips, which they called the best test taking tips, worked so well and found that what they had in common was exactly what the current brain research now supports.
The secret to their success was in helping the students learn how to “visualize” or make pictures of what they read or heard.
Students who made mental pictures and associations recalled large amounts of material with excellent comprehension. They did this more quickly and accurately than other students, and also got higher grades and test scores.
The best test taking tips contained a wonderful blend of research from medicine, psychology, neurology, psychotherapy, psychiatry, optometry and education showing how well visualizing works for recall and creating future success.
As a new teacher, there was just one glitch however.
Neither my traditional teacher training nor advanced degree programs actually taught me “how” to teach my students to visualize. Just telling them to visualize wasn’t enough and certainly did not get them the best test taking tips they needed to succeed.
I learned many “visual memory” and “visualization” activities to do with my students, but none were consistently successful because I did not know the “how” for teaching my students to create and retrieve visual memories.
Figuring out how to “show” my students to make mental images was an exciting journey. After I observed lessons taught by other teachers, took many additional courses, read several psychology and medical information books on mental imagery and interviewed various educational experts, the answers finally came to teach my students the best test taking tips for faster recall.
When I got the answers I was teaching in the inner city in Los Angeles as a reading specialist. Many of my students made letter and word reversals when they read.
To help them, I used a multi-modality approach known as the Slingerland and Hunter method. My students would look up, write their letters or words in the air and say the words aloud. I also had them create their letters in a larger size and imagine them in different colors.
When it came time to write (or read), I noticed that the students would look back up as if seeing the letters or words in the air or on some internal blackboard.
While I did not know it at the time, my students were were already making mental movies and using the best test taking tips possible.
In other words, they were checking to see if their actual work matched the visual image of what they had previously practiced. This was very successful and they no longer made letter or word reversals when they read or wrote.
Although this visual memory method worked well with my reading students, I wasn’t clear whether it would work for all my students.
So, I interviewed and observed the students with the highest grades in the class to see what they were using as the best test taking tips for faster recall.
I also interviewed the spelling champions. I noticed they all did the same thing with their eyes as they recalled pictures. They used the best test taking tips possible which were mental movies.
They acted as if they were at the movies. They looked up above eye level, to one side or the other – or up and to the center to recall their spelling words. I also noticed these same eye positions when I saw newspaper photos of spelling bee champions!
Long before the current brain research could support the answers they gave, I discovered that all these students used the same strategy both when learning and remembering things for their tests. Their mental movies were their best test taking tips.
I learned that when they read, they “looked up” and naturally made images or pictures of what they were reading. These students seemed to know instinctively how to “visualize” and ultimately, used the best test taking tips both when learning new information and when retrieving it for the test.
They told me it was as if they were creating their own movie in their minds. They told me they converted everything they read or heard to images in their mind.
As I observed them during the act of learning and testing, the students read a bit and then looked in an upward direction as they processed the information. Some students closed their eyes as they processed but still looked up. They told me this meant they were converting what they read into pictures and that was their secret for the best test taking tips and a super fast memory.
Eyes and Their Signals Provide the Best Test Taking Tips
Although I did not understand why at the time, the physical act of looking up helped my students create and recall a kind of mental snapshot. They found that they could easily rely on these images, movies or snapshots when they wanted to recall information. Without even realizing it, they naturally had the best test taking tips to ace their tests.
If you’re a curious person who likes to know the history of things, and the science of how they work, read this next portion. If not, skip to the next section.
As I sought out more information, I found that some classic research had been done in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s by A. Pavio, Ralph Haber and others to support the importance of imagery in cognitive functions.
Students using imagery or mental movies had significantly better recall and faster response time to questions than those who did not. In other words, they were automatically using the best test taking tips possible.
In other studies, students given long lists of pictures and long lists of words to remember, scored far higher on recall of lists with pictures thus supporting the power of our visual memory. This classic research further noted that recall is enhanced by presenting information in both visual and verbal form together and has been supported by more recent studies.
A few years after this research appeared, others expanded on it by observing that various eye movements appear to be tied to the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. A field outside education developed known as neuro-linguistics. This field held more clues to the best test taking tips.
In addition, new psychological therapies to overcome stress and trauma make extensive use of eye movements to help patients successfully reprocess a traumatic event.
In a therapy known as EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, patterned eye movements are used to remove or clear emotional, cognitive and physical blockages.
It’s easy to see from this vast research why students who make mental movies both during study and recall use the best test taking tips to get the highest grades in their class.
The bigger question then is about how to teach the best test taking tips.
Current brain research now suggests that there is an eye-brain connection and that visual fixation and eye movements during cognitive activity may have functional significance by accessing certain parts of the brain.
The importance of eye movements for teaching and learning purposes, is to know that hundreds of studies definitively show that eye movements do trigger certain brain functions and are sensitive to task differences.
Various areas of the brain light up during brain scans when certain tasks are performed. In other words there is an eye-brain relationship.
So, here is the “how” of teaching the best test taking tips.
When your child or student studies, have them read some of their text, actually draw a picture summary of the material and then hold it up, above eye level. Create a mental movie in their mind, just as if they were at the movie theater.
During the test, have your child or student look up again to “see” the mental movies they have created and the words they need for the test will flow easily and quickly for them to write during the test.
These best test taking tips which are the mental movies work for all subject areas – spelling, reading, math and more.
More of the best test taking tips additional subjects such as learning math facts in half the time, is in the Instant Learning for Amazing Grades book.
About the author:
Pat Wyman is America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert. She is the founder of HowToLearn.com, the best selling author of Learning vs. Testing, Strategies that Bridge The Gap, Instant Learning for Amazing Grades, and a University Instructor of education for teachers at California State University, East Bay.
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com