Results of using the Active Recall method

Results of using the Active Recall method

Within the field of tech, there is always change.

Every six months new hardware is unveiled. And it seems like there’s a new language or software to make yourself even more efficient. With all this change, learning quickly is an essential skill when making the choice of working within tech. But added to that, learning how you learn best can make the process of this continuous learning path easier. One way to ensure that you’re keeping up with your field is to do certifications. I myself like taking certifications because:

  • They make me focus on learning one thing well
  • Makes me work towards a deadline that’s time-boxed
  • Gain a qualification that’s not tied to any employer

Like most people, I decided to use my tried and tested method of revision – reading, note taking, then test taking. But, apparently, this isn’t the best method to revise.

I stumbled upon the Active Recall method on a video by Ali Abdaal and after he put forward his arguments, I decided to switch my revision style to the Active Recall method.

As a quick recap, this method describes taking a number of tests in order to pull the knowledge out of your head. And if it isn’t there (by the evidence of you getting the answers wrong) then you learn the correct answer. You continue doing this until you are able to pass the tests sufficiently.

Last year, I decided to take the Azure Fundamentals exam to gain a basic understanding of Microsoft’s cloud services. I already gained my AWS Cloud Practitioner certification in 2020, and it was time for me to continue diving into the cloud.

So how did I find this new method relative to the tried and tested read, notes, take test?

Benefits

  • Just need to watch the content once
  • You can jump into practice exams early
  • You learn from your mistakes quickly
  • You don’t have notes after that you potentially will never look at again

Drawbacks

  • You need to take a full exam which (for me) could be 2 hours. Then after making time to research what you did wrong or were unsure of and then commit that to memory is
  • You may need to do a lot of retakes in order to commit things to memory
  • If you don’t have a range of exams, the more you take them you’ll start to remember the answer, not because you’ve learned the content but because you know it’s the right option (only applicable to multiple choice exams)

Conclusion

So, did it work? I can’t tell fully how well this has worked over the long term, but I think that I have still retained a lot of the knowledge even after five months. I wouldn’t be so bold to say that I’d be able to take the exam and pass but I’m sure I’d get a pretty high score.

As this is the first time that I’m using this technique, I’m not sure if the level of the exam made it easier to apply to this method and whether content for the associate exams would work just as well.

One tip that I would suggest is that you may want to take the first few exam attempts with a guide. When you don’t know an answer, you can immediately look it up, and learn immediately instead of waiting until the end of the test.

Oh and by the way, I passed! On to studying for the associate level 🙂

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