Send to

Choose Destination
Mem Cognit. 2016 Oct;44(7):1085-101. doi: 10.3758/s13421-016-0621-z.

Multiple-choice pretesting potentiates learning of related information.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MI, USA.
Department of Psychology, Hillsdale College, 33 E. College St., Hillsdale, MI, 49242, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Although the testing effect has received a substantial amount of empirical attention, such research has largely focused on the effects of tests given after study. The present research examines the effect of using tests prior to study (i.e., as pretests), focusing particularly on how pretesting influences the subsequent learning of information that is not itself pretested but that is related to the pretested information. In Experiment 1, we found that multiple-choice pretesting was better for the learning of such related information than was cued-recall pretesting or a pre-fact-study control condition. In Experiment 2, we found that the increased learning of non-pretested related information following multiple-choice testing could not be attributed to increased time allocated to that information during subsequent study. Last, in Experiment 3, we showed that the benefits of multiple-choice pretesting over cued-recall pretesting for the learning of related information persist over 48 hours, thus demonstrating the promise of multiple-choice pretesting to potentiate learning in educational contexts. A possible explanation for the observed benefits of multiple-choice pretesting for enhancing the effectiveness with which related nontested information is learned during subsequent study is discussed.


Learning; Multiple choice; Pretesting; Test-potentiated learning; Testing effects

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center