As everyone know exams are coming in a week and they are approaching quickly. If you are anything like most college students , then you will spend at least one night or day trying to cram the information into your head before you take the test. However, this may be even less reliable than you think. I decided to try and find out just how expansive is the memory in the short term.
A study done by Peterson and Peterson hypothesized about the duration of the short term memory, or how long you retain that information if it is not stored in long term memory.
They conducted an experiment where they had volunteers to to remember random groups of three letters. The independent variable was the amount of time between when the participants heard the letters and the time time they had to recite them. The independent variable was the accuracy of the volunteers. The researchers found that short term memory declines sharply within seconds if there is no rehearsal or repetition. With three seconds in between hearing the letters and saying them there was 80% accuracy of recall. However with 18 seconds between hearing the letters and saying them, only 10% of their answers were accurate. That’s less than half a minute!
If you are still not convinced you can’t rely on your short term memory for exams, you can actually test it for yourself. If you follow the example given by Kendra Cherry, a psycho-social rehabilitation specialist, you can look at a group of around 25-30 words for a minute. Then when you are done see how many of the words you can recall without looking. Kendra says that the words can’t be alike or be related because the brain uses grouping as a memorization skill. So the task would be harder if the words were “Bed, Dinner, Worm, etc” as opposed to “Baby, Bottle, Crib.”
My suggestion is that if you want to do well on your exams, give yourself enough time to repeat, rehearse, and practice the information.