The persisting benefits of using multiple-choice tests as learning events


Taking a test tends to improve the retention of the tested information. Additionally, taking a test often influences the later retention of non-tested information, provided such information is related to the tested information in a specific manner. To illustrate, recent research has demonstrated that multiple-choice tests containing competitive alternatives can improve retention of both tested and non-tested information pertaining to such incorrect alternatives at least over a short delay. The present research investigated whether such improvements in retention would persist with a delay more likely to occur in educational contexts (i.e., 48 hr). Taking an initial multiple-choice test improved retention more than a comparable cued-recall test—for both previously tested and related information—and over both short and long delays. Moreover, misinformation effects seen for the multiple-choice test at the short delay were reduced. These results thus have important implications for the use of multiple-choice tests as learning opportunities.

Back to Table of Contents