The Forgetting Curve and How it May Affect the Score You Get on a Fire Promotion Test

I think everyone can agree the less you review something the more likely you are to forget it. Did you know a German psychologist studied the nature of memory loss over time to help you determine how to retain more information while you work on your firefighter promotional exam prep

The Forgetting Curve

The Forgetting Curve was established by a German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus in the 1800’s to demonstrate the rate in which people forget newly learned information. He then used his curve to help slow down the process of forgetting and to help others do the same. 

How to Beat the Forgetting Curve

  1. Review Quickly Through Testing

Once you read a new chapter in your textbook or learn about a new topic you need to review it again in a timely manner. The urgency to review the information comes from the fact that you are most likely to forget new learned information within the first few days of learning it. This means it is critical for you to review the information you are studying for your promotional exam within a day of the first time learning it. If you review the information within a day you are more likely to remember and recall the information when you sit down to take your firefighter promotional exam. To get the most out of that review session and the biggest improvement in memory you should review through self-testing, this is called the testing effect. Testing yourself is also a quick way to know for sure if you know the information. Through both reviewing and testing you are reinforcing the information in your memory before it gets the chance to be forgotten come exam day. 

  1. Space Out the Review Sessions

Once you have initially studied and reviewed the information you are learning you must keep reviewing and quizzing yourself if you want to pass your firefighter promotional exam. One quick quiz session within a day of learning new information is not going to cut it. You have to keep quizzing yourself and reviewing the information, spacing out the review sessions more and more each time until you have mastered the material. You can use flashcards, online practice exams, or even make your own test questions up as a way to review. 

  1. Review Three Times Minimum

It is hard to know how many times you need to test yourself on new information before it is stuck in your brain. Whatever you do, review and test yourself on the newly learned information a minimum of three times for the greatest chance of beating the forgetting curve. Some information you will need to review many more times. You will need to use your best judgment to determine when you have mastered a subject. 

The Takeaway

If you want to beat the forgetting curve and get a passing score on your firefighter promotional exam you must put the effort in and review the information and test yourself on the information consistently. You will not pass your firefighter promotional exam by reading the textbook once and taking a single practice test.