There is a misconception that the sole purpose of taking a test is to evaluate one’s knowledge. In truth, responding to questions on a subject is a powerful learning tool that has been proven to be much more effective than traditional parrot fashion learning. Research on retrieval practice, the act of bringing information to mind in order to promote learning and attention, has found that tests do not just evaluate learning, they accelerate it. Therefore, educational tools like Examsta promise to give learners the edge when it comes to preparing for exams.

“We tend to think of studying as a passive process of rereading information, taking notes and hoping to internalise knowledge. However, testing facilitates active learning and has been proven to be much more effective for long term retention. In fact, research conducted on over 1 400 Columbia Middle School students consistently demonstrated that their retention was better for quizzed material than for non-quizzed material. According to researchers, this ‘retrieval practice effect’, helped students achieve marks that were, on average, one grade higher, while also reducing test anxiety.”, says Marie de Wet, founder of Examsta.

According Marie, the very act of retrieving information, prompts your brain to ensure that the information is more accessible in the future. This is often observed in open-book testing where test-takers have the option to look up the answer and, consequently, finish the test with more knowledge than when they started. She developed Examsta as an accessible learning tool that would enable learners to benefit from this powerful study technique.

Examsta provides a web based platform from which students can access a variety of quizzes based on the South African school syllabus. Each questionnaire includes ten to fifteen multiple choice questions, with clear explanations and diagrams used to explain answers. Currently the platform is in testing phase, with Life Sciences questionnaires available to Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners free of charge. By the end of the year, History and Geography will also be available and paying a subscription of just R100 a year will grant users access to quizzes for every subject in their grade.

“Examsta aims to provide an effective, low cost learning tool that can benefit students from all socio-economic backgrounds. We have taken care to keep the website simple, to minimise data costs for low income learners and, in the future, we plan to make Examsta zero-rated so that no data will be required to access our content,” says Marie.

Marie, a qualified teacher currently completing her Masters in Educational Technology, has almost a decade of experience, including teaching children from low income communities and facilitating remote learning via WhatsApp. While most e-learning platforms focus on Physical Science, Marie launched Examsta in order to provide the first South African platform to focus on content-heavy subjects, like Geography and History, while properly differentiating between the CAPS and IEB syllabi. It has already been tested on 500 learners in Cape Town and 81% of survey participants found it to be a useful learning tool.

With Matric exams set to begin in November, Marie encourages learners to visit where they will be able to access all Life Sciences content free of charge.

“Learners have had a tumultuous year, fill of interruptions, challenges and stress. Examsta promises to give them a helping hand, making sure that they can easily access learned information and reduce test anxiety for their all-important matric finals”, she concludes.

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