As simple as quizzes are, they can be time consuming and awkward to administer – for example, in an informal session or when you’re training a large group.

A new study validates an easier approach: just have people answer the questions in their heads.

Researchers divided subjects into two groups and had them memorize a list of words. One group then completed a computerized quiz. The second group read the quiz questions and simply thought of the answers.

On a final test, both groups scored the same.

Takeaway: When formal practice isn’t possible, learners can practice effectively by testing themselves.

Source: Smith, M. A., et al. (2013). Covert retrieval practice benefits retention as much as overt retrieval practice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(6), 1712-1725.

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