Repeated testing produces superior transfer of learning relative to repeated studying

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2010 Sep;36(5):1118-33. doi: 10.1037/a0019902.


The present research investigated whether test-enhanced learning can be used to promote transfer. More specifically, 4 experiments examined how repeated testing and repeated studying affected retention and transfer of facts and concepts. Subjects studied prose passages and then either repeatedly restudied or took tests on the material. One week later, they took a final test that had either the same questions (Experiment 1a), new inferential questions within the same knowledge domain (Experiments 1b and 2), or new inferential questions from different knowledge domains (Experiment 3). Repeated testing produced superior retention and transfer on the final test relative to repeated studying. This finding indicates that the mnemonic benefits of test-enhanced learning are not limited to the retention of the specific response tested during initial learning but rather extend to the transfer of knowledge in a variety of contexts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*