Expectation of a final cumulative test enhances long-term retention

Mem Cognit. 2007 Jul;35(5):1007-13. doi: 10.3758/bf03193473.


In the present study, subjects studied lists of words across four experimental conditions: whether (or not) subjects received initial testing for these lists and whether (or not) they were made aware of an upcoming final free-recall test. Initial testing enhanced final-test performance; however, subjects benefited more from initial testing when they also knew they would need to remember the information for a later test. The data suggest that holding an expectation of the final test encouraged the continued processing of study materials following an initial test, affecting the accessibility of these materials at the time of final recall. The results clearly illustrate how an expectation of a cumulative test might influence long-term retention, which may have important implications for educational practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Semantics
  • Time Factors
  • Vocabulary