Building Strong Study Skills Series: Self-Testing

Building Strong Study Skill Series: Self-Testing. Students studying with a tutor.

Note: This series details how to study smarter, not harder, to help students succeed in their academics. All information in this series draws upon principles from psychological research on learning and memory.

Throughout this series, we’ve covered a broad range of study skills. According to effect sizes in the literature, some of these skills are not very effective (Study Habits You Should Knock Part I and II), while others are moderately effective (Interleaved StudyingSelf-ExplanationElaborative Interrogation). By far, however, spaced practice and self-testing are the most effective study techniques.

So what is self-testing and how do you do it?

Proper Technique

Self-testing consists of testing your knowledge independently. It can take many forms: answering questions at the end of the chapter, flashcards, online review quizzes, etc.

Tips for Success

Self-testing is most effective in a free-recall format, as opposed to a recognition format like true-false or multiple choice questions.

Creating your own questions for self-testing increases the effectiveness of this study technique even further!

Why It Works

Research shows that the most powerful type of learning occurs when students retrieve information from their memory.


Self-testing is a straightforward study technique that most students already use. For the best results, try creating your own free-recall questions.

Keep up with our weekly Building Strong Study Skills series to learn the most effective study strategies and succeed in your academics. Schedule a session with one of our expert tutors today to receive all the information and guidance you need to gain a deeper understanding of your academics and perform better on your tests! Building effective study habits takes time, so the sooner you get help, the better prepared you will be by the time finals roll around.

Read Other Articles in The Building Strong Study Skills Series


  • Terry, W.S. (2018). Learning and Memory: Basic Principles, Processes, and Procedures, Fifth Edition. New York, Routledge, a Taylor and Francis Group. ISBN 978-1-13-864591-2.
  • Rhodes, M.G., Cleary, A.M. and DeLosh, E.L. (2020). A Guide to Effective Studying and Learning: Practical Strategies from the Science of Learning. New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-021447-0 (pbk).