May and June are stressful months for students due to end-of-year exams. Modesta Pousada, professor of Psychology and researcher at the UOC, provides the keys to achieving what every student wants: to pass. These are: plan study and revision in advance and carry it out progressively; minimise distractions while studying; know what the assessment tests will be like and work on the content in a coherent way; and, finally, try to manage the anxiety that the assessment situation may generate in an appropriate way.
Firstly, the expert recommends recognising the primordial role of memory. "An assessment situation involves retrieving and bringing different information into play to answer the questions, problems or reflections that are asked of us". Secondly, they should be aware of certain aspects related to the functioning of their attention and memory, which will be very useful, both when preparing for exams and when taking them.
When asked what they should bear in mind when preparing for assessment tests, the expert replies: "The first question is that we cannot retrieve information if we have not recorded it beforehand; we have to have stored it previously. This is the moment of learning, where attention plays a decisive role, one of the key characteristics of which is that it is limited".
Memory, learning, attention
These are the key words at a time in history plagued by young people with a weak attention span in a society where multitasking is considered the most natural thing to do, despite the evidence: "We cannot attend to multiple sources of information or multiple tasks simultaneously, without one of them suffering", corroborates Pousada, who recommends that at the time of study students should be in a context with as few distractions as possible.
In other words, a comfortable environment, where they have everything they need to work, where they can leave interruptions aside and where they can concentrate. "Turning off or silencing the mobile phone or other devices, eliminating sources of noise and having all the material we need within reach is the first step," he stresses.
Knowing in advance what the characteristics of the assessment test will be is also important. It has been proven that the ability to remember something depends on what they did when they received the corresponding information, i.e. they will retrieve information better if the way they study it is congruent with the type of assessment test they will have to take.