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  • Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

  • Rob: And I'm Rob.

  • Alice: So, it's nearly exam time again.

  • And the subject of today's show is how to prepare well for an exam.

  • Rob: I've got some great tips, actually, Alice.

  • Alice: Have you really? Can you remind me what grades you got at school?

  • Rob: Yes, well ... [mumbles] ...

  • Alice: So, you didn't get very good grades.

  • Rob: I probably should've started revising earlier.

  • But my learning strategies were very good.

  • Alice: Oh, really? Well.

  • When you revise for an exam you study information you learned before.

  • OK, Rob, I'd love to hear more about your learning strategies, but first here's today's quiz question for you.

  • What's the word for a system, such as use of special poems or rhymes to help you remember something?

  • Is it ... a) pneumatics b) mnemonics

  • Or c) hypnotics?

  • Rob: I'll go for b) mnemonics.

  • Alice: Well, we'll find out whether you got the answer right or not later on in the show.

  • Now, according to current scientific research, some study methods popular with students aren't actually very effective.

  • Rob: Don't tell meputting your textbook under your pillow at night doesn't work.

  • Alice: Did you try doing that, Rob?

  • Rob: Yes, I did, but without much success.

  • Maybe I was using the wrong kind of pillow?!

  • Alice: Well, let's talk about more conventional methods than the book-under-the-pillow one.

  • These include summarising, highlighting or underlining text to help you remember it...

  • I do love a pack of highlighting pens, though.

  • Rob: Oh yes, me too. And actually highlighting text was one of my top tips.

  • But I used to get so absorbed with the highlighting I'm not sure I was actually learning anything useful.

  • My notebooks were works of art, though!

  • Alice: Yes, and that's the point made by John Dunlosky,

  • Professor of Psychology at Kent State University in the US,

  • who says that you need to do more than just highlight information.

  • You need to test yourself on it. Let's hear from him now.

  • John Dunlosky: Students who can basically test themselves or try to retrieve material from their memory

  • are going to learn that material in the long run a lot better.

  • So for instance maybe you start by reading a textbook using your favourite highlighter and favourite colours,

  • but then you go back and make flashcards of all the critical concepts

  • and instead of just rereading those, you basically try to test yourselves on them.

  • Rob: Professor John Dunlosky there.

  • So he says trying to memorise the material isn't enough.

  • You need to do something with it, for example, making flashcards of critical

  • or importantconcepts and then testing yourself on them.

  • Alice: By repeatedly testing yourself on something, you strengthen the pathways between neurons

  • or nerve cellsin the brain.

  • And the more often you do this, the easier it becomes to retrieve information.

  • Rob: And retrieve means to get something back.

  • Alice: That's right.

  • When you repeatedly test yourself over a longer period of time

  • for example, over months or weeks

  • this is called distributed practiceand psychologists believe this is a very effective way to learn.

  • Rob: It sounds like hard work, though, doesn't it?

  • I prefer the cramming method

  • which means to try and learn lots of information in a short period of time.

  • For example, the night before the exam.

  • Alice: I don't know, Rob.

  • We don't cram to learn other thingslike music or dancing, or football or language learning.

  • It's far more effective to join a conversation class and practise speaking every week than

  • to practise for hours in front of the mirror the night before your oral exam!

  • Rob: That's a good point.

  • In fact, I used to sing irregular French verbs to myself,

  • every day in the shower for weeks before my French exam,

  • and that helped me remember them more easily.

  • Alice: Excellent! Making different types of associations with what you're trying to learn

  • for example, musical associationsis meant to be effective.

  • Let's listen now to Professor Dunlovsky talking about visual associations.

  • John Dunlosky: I would encourage students as they are reading to try and elaborate mentally

  • using images, as they're reading, to kind of develop a more vivid picture of what they're reading.

  • Again, that'll help quite a bit for some kinds of studiesmaybe history and so forth

  • and a little bit less so for more conceptual studies.

  • Rob: And if you elaborate on something, it means you add more information

  • in this case, mental pictures.

  • Alice: So, creating mental pictures is useful for some subjectslike history or languages.

  • But conceptual subjectsones based on abstract ideas rather than thingslike maths, for example

  • it might not be so easy to associate ideas with pictures.

  • Rob: Now what about Albert Einstein? People say he was a very visual thinker.

  • Alice: Well, you've got me there, Rob.

  • I don't know the answer to that but I can give you the answer to today's quiz question.

  • I asked: What's the word for a system, such as use of special poems or rhymes to help you remember something?

  • Is it ... a) pneumatics, b) mnemonics or c) hypnotics?

  • Rob: I said mnemonics.

  • Alice: And you were right!

  • Rob: Great!

  • Alice: Well done! Research on mnemonics suggests they are a good strategy for learning certain kinds of things,

  • like how to spell difficult words.

  • For example, the first letters of this sentence:

  • "big elephants cause accidents under small elephants" spells "because".

  • Now, do you think you can remember the words we heard today, Rob?

  • Rob: We heard:

  • revise

  • critical

  • neurons

  • retrieve

  • distributed practice

  • cramming

  • elaborate

  • conceptual

  • Alice: Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English.

  • Remember to join us again soon!

  • Both: Bye.

Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

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A2 UK rob alice exam retrieve highlighting conceptual

BBC 6 Minute English June 16, 2016 - How to prepare for an exam

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/06/21
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