Study Tips – Get it wrong, and then get it right!

Do Revision Questions First!

Do Revision Questions First!

New research has shown that getting things wrong actually facilitates learning (Scientific American, 20th October, 2009). Getting things wrong helps with memory and challenges the brain to learn.

Students want to get the best mark on their final exams, but they need to challenge themselves to achieve their best.

A lot of students make the mistake of writing volumes of study notes on each subject. This is a time consuming process and as the student is “copying” from another source, the amount of learning in this process is minimal.

I have been telling students this for years – but often the perfectionism in individuals or the need to get a full set of notes distracts from the actual learning of the new material. My advice is stop being so obsessed with notes and do practice questions.

The current research suggests that if we challenge ourselves to retrieve or generate answers we can actually improve our recall.

The simple example is to do VCE practice exams before you have completed all your coursework or your notes. I know from experience that those who get the highest marks in VCE have done the most practice questions, or written the most practice essays.

Students may even consider trying to do the revision questions at the end of the chapter before they begin to the study the chapter. Primary school teachers often give their students pre-tests on certain topics and this is a great way to help facilitate learning.

If students get the questions wrong in a self test before they actually study, the study process is going to be far more useful for recall.

So VCE students should do as many practice exams and test yourself as much as they can – even before they have fully learned or revised the material – their marks will show the results!


Roediger, H. L & Finn, B. (2009).  Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn. Scientific American.