Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 194–199 | Cite as

The memorial consequences of multiple-choice testing

  • Elizabeth J. MarshEmail author
  • Henry L. Roediger
  • Robert A. Bjork
  • Elizabeth L. Bjork
Applying cognitive psychology to education


The present article addresses whether multiple-choice tests may change knowledge even as they attempt to measure it. Overall, taking a multiple-choice test boosts performance on later tests, as compared with nontested control conditions. This benefit is not limited to simple definitional questions, but holds true for SAT II questions and for items designed to tap concepts at a higher level in Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of educational objectives. Students, however, can also learn false facts from multiple-choice tests; testing leads to persistence of some multiple-choice lures on later general knowledge tests. Such persistence appears due to faulty reasoning rather than to an increase in the familiarity of lures. Even though students may learn false facts from multiplechoice tests, the positive effects of testing outweigh this cost.


Final Test Testing Effect Memorial Consequence Wrong Answer Retrieval Practice 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Marsh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Henry L. Roediger
    • 2
  • Robert A. Bjork
    • 3
  • Elizabeth L. Bjork
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology & NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurham
  2. 2.Washington UniversitySt. Louis
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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