Whether they’re ten-question pop quizzes or hours-long final exams, tests weigh heavily on the minds of college students.

And, though students may take part in cram sessions and all-nighters that take place on the eve of their exams, they may often find themselves wondering: Is there a more effective (and less stressful) way for me to study for these tests?

The answer is yes! Research [such as that discussed in “The Testing Effect: Illustrating a Fundamental Concept and Changing Study Strategies,” an article by G.O. Einstein, H.G. Mullet, and T.L. Harrison (2012)] shows that self tests can help students retain the information they’re learning in their courses.

In this video, you’ll hear about the benefit of self tests from someone who’s seen them first hand. You’ll also hear some ways to use notecards as an effective study tool.

Three Ways to Give Yourself a Self Test

Dr. Christine Harrington offers several helpful tips for self tests in her book Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, Second Edition. We’ve summarized them below.

1. Take an online quiz. No, not the ones that tell you which movie character you are! If your instructor hasn’t provided an online quiz (through a web link, or in your course management system), you may be able to find them through a publisher’s website (like CengageBrain).

2. Create your own quizzes. You’ll review the material twice: once when you’re writing the quiz, and again when you’re taking it. Where, or how, to find content for your quizzes? Use your lecture notes, or pull from chapter summaries, review questions, or the glossary of your textbook.

3. Use notecards. Sure, you can use index cards… they’re portable and both easy and inexpensive to make. (And again, writing out the notes is, in and of itself, a way to review the material.) But you might also try out digital flashcards, like those available from Luvo. (Do you use MindTap in your course? Good news… it’s easy to use chapter-specific flashcards, or create your own, in the MindTap App, available on the App Store and Google Play.) (Harrington, 67)


Have you seen the benefits of self tests among your own students? How do you promote effective study skills among your own students? Share your thoughts in the comments.



Einstein, Gilles, Hillary Mullet, and Tyler Harrison. 2012. “The Testing Effect: Illustrating a Fundamental Concept and Changing Study Strategies,” Teaching of Psychology 39, no. 3 (July 2012): 190-193.

Harrington, Christine. 2016. Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.