To examine to you. Technique of study 5/8.

The examinations are an undesirable part of the studies and nobody wants nor an examination more of the essential thing. In my case, 20 years after finishing the race, itself having nightmares in which I appear to examinations without having nor idea and group of people frightened by the corridors of a ghostly faculty€¦

Unfortunately, the word €œexamination€ evokes odious sensations that hide the fact that to examine to you on the studied improvement and consolidates the learned thing. This is known for more than 100 years (1). It is more, if the examination well is elaborated, you can get to leave the classroom understanding better the studied thing than before realising it (that happened to me with my semester examinations of Pharmacology of 2º of race).

To examine to you


When we spoke to examine you during the study we talked about to any technique that forces to you to recall what you have already read and worked previously. For it we can use:

  • Real examinations of other years
  • Cards (flashcards)
  • Phrases written down in the margins of our notes taken with the technique of Cornell
  • Questions provided at the end of each chapter in some books (as the Manual of Otolaryngology of Ram­rez Camacho, never taken advantage of by the students the UAM-10 or 15 units in the library well to prepare examination ORL€¦).
  • Questions prepared by your companions of study (if you have a training group in the faculty, subject of which we will speak someday).


To try to recall a content studied previously has the effect to reorganize the information, to activate information related kept in the long term memory, to force to you to codify more relations between which you want to learn. All this is propose hypotheses by the experts, but it is easy to understand that when you search carefully in your mind to answer a question, you are working on the material and giving him returned, doing it plus yours. You are placed in an active position with the material and this is beneficial, as it is search analogies and images to it (the post remembers on mental images), or to make comparative tables (in this post).

An effect that seems to me very interesting is that, after examining to you on a concrete subject, mainly if you have failed in the answers, it give account to you of understanding errors that can happen in the first review, and facilitates that you correctly codify the concepts in the later re-examination (2).

Finally, this technique of study requires of a minimum training to learn to use it. If you do not have examinations of other years, you can practice with two types of material made by same you:

  1. Notes Cornell model (with its margin in target to point key words or questions with a view to the review)
  2. Memory cards (the act to prepare them is a study form also).


It serves in all the studies! One has tried on in primary, secondary and university education. It has been investigated and confirmed his utility to learn languages, geography, species of birds, structures of a flower, history, meaning of symbols, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (3)€¦ any thing.

So that you see to what extent this technique is useful, I enumerate several aspects to you demonstrated by the scientific evidence (4):

  • It improves the learning with any format of examination: free memory, questions of short answer, questions type test (multiple answer). Even if the format with that you practice is different from the type of final exam that you will have later. This means that you can use your cards with total tranquillity, if you cannot secure an examination similar to which you will happen officially. That yes, some formats work better, those than they force to you to generate the answer, more than to recognize the correct answer; that is to say, the free memory or the short question is more effective. To greater difficulty, major reward.
  • It works to any age, and it has been demonstrated with studies realised in primary day-care centers, schools, students of secondary, middle-aged and old medicine students, adults.
  • It works with any level of knowledge, that is to say, inexperienced students and experience. That is, that if you are thinking that you are less intelligent than your companions (idea who already you can be erasing of your head), yes, this technique also is for you (and it will do to you more intelligent, without a doubt;)). Vote demonstrated that it worked in patients of Alzheimer! (5)
  • It works as much to remember data as to make inferences, that is to say, improves the understanding than you have studied and favors doing relations between facts, something that the students of Medicine, Infirmary, Physiotherapy, etc, must do continuously.
  • It works with any type of material that you have used to learn something, are short texts, long texts, videos or anatomical laminae.
  • It works with any term of time, that is to say, whether the formal examination on the following day takes place as if one week takes place later or several weeks or even months later. In order to secure a lasting memory he is better to re-examine itself more at intervals spaced. This is the great news for the students who need to remember contents to very long term, as the competing futures of the MIR, PIR, EIR, QIR, etc. How to obtain this, nevertheless, it requires of a planning to short, half and long term that I will have to investigate for next entrances of the blog 😉


  • 2-3 elaborates cards maximum by each subject, when you review them after the classes (or when you read them for the second time if you have not gone to class). If you are not able to work on a daily basis, it works per weeks. You do not demand yourself to be exhaustive. Better few cards (but learned well) every week that to oppress to you to try to make all the cards of all the classes of the previous week. It uses questions of short answer, or comparative tables.
  • It is demonstrated that it is better more. The concepts pay attention better if you review questions as much exceeds they until you guess right them several times, in the same session of study as in different sessions. This you can obtain classifying it the questions of examination or the cards that there are preparation in two parts: in one, those that you respond or the first one or second review (you leave that pile for the following week); in another one, those that you respond bad and you must review on a daily basis. Some applications as Anki selects automatically what questions you must more often review.
  • If you can secure explanations on why of each correct answer, also it works better. So you can add a brief explanation to the foot of your memory cards, under the correct answer. *Recuerda how to make cards for short questions here.
  • It will give time Me to everything, to read, to make schemes and to practice questions? If it does not give time you, it remembers what Dunlosky and cabbages. they emphasize in his revision, that is more efficient to spend a determined time to examine to you that to re-study. Perhaps you must learn to resign to a re-reading in exchange for making cards. But an advantage that has cards or flashcards, whether is in fine cardboard as in one app of the mobile as Anki, is that you can review them in the dead short whiles that we have throughout the day, as the transport from house to the faculty and back from house.
  • It has been verified that the benefits to examine to you are majors if it beams in different days, that is to say, it is not necessary to review a card swearword several times in the same sitting; also the effect is superior if the interval between a review and another one is longer, although the effort to put you to it is greater.


- Beam the first cards although are simple and although they are in paper.

- It changes your notes to Cornell technique simply drawing up a line in the margin in your next class.

- A look throws to Anki and other applications of spaced review.

- It reviews already and where it is: it takes your cards in the bus, of stroll by the field, in the park.

- If you are oppressed, test with 1 subject and you do trial and error with her. If you like, generalize it to all the fourth month period although you are already to 2 weeks of the examinations, because better late than never.



Other entrances on study techniques:


1. Abbott, E.E. (1909). On the analysis of the factors of recall in the learning process. Psychological Monographs, 11, 159-177. doi: 10.1037/h0093018.

2. Roediger, H.L., III, & Karpicke, J.D. (2006). The to power of testing memory: BASIC research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 181-210.

3. Kromann, H.P., Jensen, M.L., & Ringsted, C. (2009). The effects of testing on skills learning. Medical Education, 43, 21-27.

4. Dunlosky J, Rawson KA, Marsh EX, Nathan MJ, Willinghamd DT. Improving students' learning with effective learning techniques: Educational Promising directions from cognitive and psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 2013; 14:4-58.

5. It votes, D.A., Duchek, J.M., Sergent-Marshall, S.D., & Roediger, H.L., III. (2006). Does retrieval Does expanded produce benefits to over equal-interval spacing? Explorations of spacing effects in healthy aging and early stage Alzheimer's disease. Psychology and Aging, 21, 19-31.

Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

7 Commentaries
  • Javier
    Published to 19:04 h, 13 September To respond

    I share everything what you say.

    The typical micro-examination of review that I realise with my students of primary in regular intervals is fundamental to determine concepts.

    A long time ago I encountered an article of New York Times titled €œTo Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take to Test€

    In order to really learn, it stops studying and you do an examination.

    This wine to confirm something that I already knew and that it had often verified actually with my students.

    Sometimes I tell them for knowing if you have learned or something you try to explain it to your parents or grandparents.

    A greeting!

  • Marina
    Published to 07:08 h, 14 September To respond

    Hello again!
    Thank you very much by all these advice.
    The truth is that it worries much how to apply all these new techniques to me that I have learned thanks to your blog without dying in the attempt.

    I believe that I am a little out of phase at the time of studying and that my yield has not been the hoped one to limit to me to read notes and to review.

    It seems to me a dynamic and active study much more. When asking to you you are you yourself the one that is attacked and it is put on approval, thus you do not have to hope to that the professor and parts with certain advantage does it already. You also know your strength and the weak ones.

    As or I shelp you in my blog, it thought to apply everything what you comment here (Cornell, flashcards and comparative tables) but not if it is going to be dream of one night of summer, or I am really going it to turn into a habit. I begin the classes tomorrow, so I will already be to you commenting.

    A kiss.

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 09:09 h, 14 September To respond

      Hello, Navy! It gives much joy to see me this way you again.

      Then also it worries to me much how to establish new habits without seeing me exceeded. I believe as slowly that the key is in going slowly, as the old habits settled in us. Thus attempt to do it with the blog, the post weekly, newsletter that I have been home for 1 week, etc.

      To read and to review are the method of study of practically all adult student. He is the one that I used to study my oppositions in 2011, accompanied of examination maneuverses that organized with a companion of my hospital. The maneuverses were most dynamic than it did.

      In your case it would say the following thing to you:
      1-El Cornell method is simple, that is enough with you down leave to a margin to the left and another one, and you take notes as always. That you can do it from the first day. When the class finishes reviews the notes and proponte to point 1 single keyword in the left margin, to be trying.
      2-with flashcards you do not have temptations of to be exhaustive every day, but proponte to make 1 card to the day by subject.
      3-Las comparative tables can help in weekly reviews or every 2 weeks you, when several subjects have been explained that you want to compare. If you have been removing 1 keyword, or 1 card per day of class (or subject, it is 1 subject in each class almost always), that means that already €œyou have chewed€ a little each subject and will be easier to work the table. But it is not necessary that you are forced to use tables from right now.

      You do not reject your classic form completely to study because, after all, Medicine course has brought you where you are now, in 4º, nothing less. It is important that him DES the value that it has, that is much. Thus also you will know to give value to the innovations that you will try this year.

      A hug and mainly amuses to you proving new things!

      P.D. To the readers, pass you through the blog of Navy, are worth the trouble

      • Marina
        Published to 14:47 h, 23 September To respond

        Thanks for the advice!
        I finish seeing your new entrance and now I pass that way 🙂 to me

        From the first day volume the notes with the Cornell method and the truth are that it goes to me very well. I use the zone of concepts as it advances the class with key words as clinic, treatment, diagnosis, etc. Later, when I can, review the notes and I emphasize them and I make the summary with my own words.
        I am very happy with this method because it makes me be very kind in class and the truth is that I point everything almost (before wasted long time in completing).

        Also I have done a few flashcards but I have not had enough time as autoexaminar several times to me. The comparative tables I have at the moment not used them, but I try to do it, as you indicate well to me, when it advances plus the matter.

        A kiss, and thanks to mention my blog 🙂

        • Almudena Trinidad
          Published to 21:00 h, 25 September To respond

          Wonderful the one of the Cornell method. In the original method one considered that in the lateral one questions or key words were written that served to be examined one same one. I do not know if you have done it thus, but it is serving to you to take advantage of better the classes, already is acting his as.

          With respect to the lack of time to review flashcards, you have detected idlings in your day to day? The trip from house to the hospital and vice versa, other transfers in bus or meter€¦ you could there be useful.

  • Marian
    Published to 08:42 h, 03 October To respond

    Studying these days I have remembered this entrance and I have thought about passing me to comment a resource that until now never had used and me this seeming useful.
    Some publishing houses, if purchases the book, in line give access you to resource between which they are test online (of 5 answers as in the examination) of each chapter. It is truth that you need to have bought the book, but in some subjects it is coming to me well, especially in which there are associate images.
    He is not as effective as cards, since you do not make you yourself the review material, but is difficult to include images in cards (for example x-rays) and in that sense it seems to me a good resource to consider!
    Thanks for all the ideas and all the entrances that you are making us arrive, the truth is that although it costs to start up at the home of course, serve as motivation to try to do the things every day better a little.
    A greeting!

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 10:49 h, 03 October To respond

      Thank you very much, Marian.

      Another manual that I know well and that contributes to questions test to practice is the Manual of Otolaryngology of Ramirez-Camacho 😉 Hay as 15 units in the library of the Medicine faculty of the UAM. Although to elaborate the own questions is more effective, not always is time to cover all the subjects with each subject. For that reason I suggest to you:
      1-Review all the books that you can in the library in case some of them has questions test to practice in the own book, or online, in which case you will be able to accede if the librarians have kept the keys. Or also to prove the access codes that come within the book because the same nor is not activated.
      2-Do a small friendly group with which you can distribute subjects to elaborate review questions. You can study each matter in the home and soon to use the questions of review of another person; the loss of efficiency fade of to have done them you is not compensated with the time saving that you can invest to review.

      A greeting and thanks to contribute to the blog 🙂

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