We don’t mean failing a FINAL exam is a good thing, but researchers have discovered that taking pretests (testing knowledge before actually learning course material) can help students better focus and retain information on key content, helping them do better overall in classes than if they merely studied as normal.
Why Failing an Exam is A Good Thing
“[A] (bombed) pretest drives home the information in a way that studying as usual does not. We fail, but we fail forward.”
As an article in the New York Times explains, students who were given pretests during multiple experiments generally scored higher than control group counterparts. Researchers believe that their wrong answers on pretests weren’t just useless shots in the dark; they actually primed students’ brains to receive the information to come, helping them learn and recall correct information more effectively later on.