Test-Enhanced Learning

A practical guide to improving academic outcomes for all students

By: Kristian Still


Or purchase digital products from our partners:


Products specifications
Attribute nameAttribute value
PublishedJune 2023
Size234 x 156mm

Written by Kristian Still, Test-Enhanced Learning: A practical guide to improving academic outcomes for all students is an informative guidebook that explores the wealth of evidence behind and the benefits of test-enhanced learning, spaced retrieval practice and personalisation.

Detailing the most up to date research into improving learning and retention, it takes us on a journey into test-enhanced learning, spaced retrieval practice, motivation, metacognition and personalisation. In so doing, the book provides a blueprint for all teachers and schools to improve the academic outcomes of their students and to achieve this in ways that improve the motivation of learners and reduces the workload for teachers.

Kristian Still has been developing these ideas with his classes for many years and has achieved considerable success in terms of the direct learning gains, and improved assessment grades of his pupils and the indirect gains in studentsgrowing confidence in lessons, with a wider group of pupils contributing to class and improved classroom behaviour. Consequently, students are finding greater comfort in class and experiencing less pressure or underpreparedness when a question is asked.

The book is supported by the free Remembermore app which uses digital flashcards as an aid to deliver the learning gains of personalised, spaced retrieval practice, providing teachers with insights into the effectiveness of their own teaching. It also contains a number of practical case studies from teachers using these techniques and the app to produce great results in their schools.

Spaced retrieval practice is a highly effective but counter intuitive revision technique in that it involves forgetting and relearning knowledge. Test-Enhanced Learning provides a blueprint for motivating students to adopt this technique in favour of seemingly easier but less effective techniques such as re-reading. Moreover, the Remembermore app does most of the convincing for you. It is a tool, not only to provide the flashcards for retrieval practice, but also to demonstrate the power of the technique to pupils.

The book goes a step beyond mere retrieval practice, offering a fresh approach to test-enhanced learning, both pretesting and post testing, supported by real, classroom-based routines that have been tried and tested by both Primary and Secondary teachers across a range of subjects. Exploring the research behind test-enhanced learning, it reveals that both pretesting and post testing (retrieval practice) offers improved memorisation and secures long-term learning.

Suitable for all teachers in all settings.

Picture for author Kristian Still

Kristian Still

Kristian Still is a Deputy Head at Academic Boundary Oak School, an independent private school in Hampshire. He has over 20-years’ experience as a head teacher and senior leader with a MsEd in Kinesiology, BSc in Sports Science, and a Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring. Kristian shares a keen interest in education leadership, evidence informed practice and #edutech.


  1. Kristian Still is to be congratulated on producing an up-to-date review of enriching research within a challenging and enthralling text for teachers, tutors and coaches at all levels. The text will stimulate awareness, greater insight and recognition of the value of test-enhanced learning.

  2. This is an informative book for all teachers interested in how test-enhanced learning can benefit their teaching and improve students’ academic outcomes. Using contemporary research and theory throughout, Still investigates the purposes and potentials of test- enhanced learning and spaced retrieval practice.

    The ideas discussed have been developed over many years in the classroom, therefore Still offers us a realistic view of what is possible and how test-enhanced learning can benefit the teacher as well as the student. Alongside his own experience and knowledge, Still has done extensive research into the subject, making this a rich and interesting read.

    Readers of the book can find further support on the associated, free Remembermore app, which utilises digital flashcards to help teachers deliver personalised spaced retrieval practice. The book is full of case studies which explain how to practically implement Still’s techniques, how to get the most from the app, and how to motivate students.

    Supporting both primary and secondary teachers across the curriculum, this is a well- researched, comprehensive book that will be invaluable to teachers looking to deepen their pedagogical knowledge and improve their teaching.

  3. Gaurav Dubay, Head of English at KE VI Handsworth Grammar School for Boys and Evidence Lead in Education (ELE).

  4. Test-Enhanced Learning is extremely interesting, informative and helpful. It’s so well written, it's like I'm experiencing the journey with Kristian. The research that supports the explanations of the concepts makes the book very accessible and will help to support me when I'm introducing the ideas to our department.
  5. Such a thoughtful look at an incredibly important topic of education. As a classroom teacher, I appreciate the deep dive into the research while also its accessibility to the classroom. Test-Enhanced Learning is a text all teachers, no matter their subject or level, can benefit from to improve instruction and learning in their classroom.

  6. Kristian’s writing is underpinned by a staggering amount of research which he has drawn from a rich variety of sources and skilfully synthesised into a coherent and compelling exposition of test-enhanced learning against the backdrop of human cognitive architecture.

    Test-Enhanced Learning is illuminating, informative, applicable and actionable for teachers in all aspects of their job. Terminology, theories and concepts are clarified with concise explanations and examples. Readability and utility are enhanced with key takeaways and a case study at the end of each chapter. The signposts to one seminal paper per subtopic testify to Kristian’s consideration for the time-poor teacher striving to be evidence informed. Refreshingly balanced discussion throughout protects against lethal mutations; Kristian does not shy away from conducting his negative controls!

    The image problem of testing is tackled head on, and I challenge anyone after reading not to be convinced that the primary role of testing is formative; testing is learning.

    To my mind we are educating Schrödinger's learners – students are simultaneously alike and unique in the way that they learn (even though the former is sadly often dismissed), owing to a shared physiology and cognitive architecture and uniqueness of experiences, circumstances and nuances of cognitive capacity. This book elucidates the beauty of test-enhanced learning as, when adaptive, it caters for both the aforementioned qualities. But more importantly, regardless of circumstance, it can level the playing field by giving the greatest learning gift of all – independence.

    Mitigating the desirable difficulties of testing, motivation is the golden thread running through the book; vital yet impossible to spontaneously or forcibly generate. Instead, it emerges along the learning journey only when preceded by success. Success leads to belief in the process, motivation emerges, engendering commitment from which achievement will follow, building confidence. And confident learners will not only reap individual benefits, they will enrich the classroom.

  7. To say that this book is incredibly rich is an understatement. Written by a teacher, for teachers, Kristian Still has written a book that provides useful insights in multiple layers. In its entirety, the book eloquently distils significant amounts of academic research into accessible chapters for the busy teacher wanting to understand more about the science of learning, memory and testing. However, the book is also cleverly written in a way that moves beyond the research into day-to-day practical application. Each chapter ends with a bullet-list summary of its content and then a case study depicting how its content manifests in a real-life classroom. All of this, alongside well-placed honest reflections and enlightening anecdotes from the author’s own exploits into test-enhanced learning. With so much to offer, why wouldn’t you read this book?!

  8. Still’s Test-Enhanced Learning is the product of an intense three-year journey. Firstly, as an experienced educator, he has continued to adapt and hone his pedagogical practice in the classroom to study how testing, memory, spacing and interleaving can truly bring about the very best outcomes for his students. This has been paired with incredibly in-depth academic research on how we best study, learn, store and retrieve information. Still has presented some of these ideas before through his articles and presentations but having such a comprehensive overview of test-enhanced learning in this book is quite the achievement. Beyond the theory and research, Still also includes clear takeaways for the classroom and practical examples are explained through different case studies. This book is a must-read for any classroom practitioner who is keen to make the best use of test-enhanced learning and a testing routine to motivate their students to achieve.

  9. This well-researched book draws together so many elements related to testing and retrieval in an informative and insightful manner. The extensive range of relevant research from which Kristian quotes contains numerous pearls of wisdom as well as phrases that capture the essence of the argument that he presents, including ‘the steady creep of improvement’, ‘the valley of disappointment’ and how ‘performance during learning is a poor predictor of future performance.’ Kristian pulls together much of the thinking related to cognitive science that is currently popular but does so with depth and understanding and, crucially, practical application.

    As an advocate of this approach to teaching, Kristian makes the case coherently for the need for quizzing and low-stakes testing to secure the knowledge, build the schema and be able to apply the learning. He draws perceptive conclusions such as ‘teach less and plan to reteach’ and emphasises the need to explain to the students why he teaches like this and how it can help them.

    The case studies are helpful in translating research into real-life classroom examples by teachers who are applying these principles. Kristian’s exploration of retrieval and testing avoids being bogged down in research but instead uses the findings as a basis for his evolving practice with vignettes about how his teaching evolved based upon test-enhanced learning. Again, this narrative makes the arguments more relatable. The book also questions many assumptions including a welcome consideration of the importance of motivation in retrieval practice that can be overlooked in the excitement around retrieval. There is also a recognition of where research has weaker claims, such as an observation that states there is a ‘general declining impact as learners get younger’. This shows not blind adoption of research by Kristian but instead a questioning approach to improvement.

    The book also has useful end-of-chapter takeaways that summarise the key ideas shared as well as handy ‘If you only read one paper then read …’ suggestions.  A most welcome book for the teacher looking to deepen knowledge and improve their teaching based upon detailed research and written in an engaging and informative style.

  10. This book is a fascinating exploration of the testing effect in practice. Finely balancing research and case studies, it will provide food for thought for any teacher or school leader interested in learning more about this important subject.

  11. In a power-packed compact volume, Kristian Still presents an extraordinarily well-researched guide to support teachers as they practically employ retrieval through quizzes, self-tests and other memory-stimulating activities. Test Enhanced Learning is about how putting memory to the test can be applied in a host of learning situations. Through the use of an authentic teacher voice, case studies from a variety of contents and levels, and helpful summarisation points, Still manages to communicate a treasure trove of research in a way that educators can digest and readily apply.

  12. This is a unique and long-awaited book. While it's been a few years now that schools have known about the top cognitive science teaching strategies, we've all been waiting for an in-depth analysis of their application in real classroom contexts by a practising teacher – one where the students' own psychologies, faced with a new and challenging about-change in how to learn, are noticed, developed and described. These are real field notes, backed by a comprehensive and interconnected familiarity with the relevant research.

    When we read accounts, we want to know more than what happened. We want to know the teacher's theory of action – what they intended to happen and why – and the often surprising deviations on the journey. Such insights into the teacher's thinking gives the reader so much more than just another trawl through the well-known studies. By presenting the account in this way, the reader becomes more intelligent too.

    Kristian Still's book is comprehensive, personal, analytical, practical and a positive validation of the impact of integrating and adapting teaching strategies to fit the context in which they are applied. I highly recommend this book and consider it to be a launch of a new era in which context and techniques are intelligently integrated.

  13. This book is an accessible and enjoyable encyclopaedia of test-enhanced learning. Kristian explores all the facets of test-enhanced learning including the usual suspects in up-to-date detail plus feedback, motivation, metacognition, illusions of competence and more. Not only has Kristian done the reading, thinking and trialling in his classroom, he's also spoken to the researchers about their work and motivations. The result is a rich combination of their insights, providing suggestions for educators that they can use to guide their practice. This, in combination with practical case studies from exceptionally thoughtful teachers, brings the research to life. I'll be coming back to this book time and again!

  14. The format for each chapter in Test Enhanced Learning is helpfully divided into three segments – the literature, takeaways and a case study to illustrate an application of principles presented. I used this rational order to engage with the material on metacognition as I had enough prior knowledge to navigate the research studies. However, when encountering the chapters I was less familiar with, I accepted the invitation to adapt due to my needs as a learner.

    On occasion, I chose to engage with the case studies first, for these got my attention. I recognised the scenarios and readily associated them with teachers’ dilemmas. I attained an appreciation of the principles within the chapter and how they might contribute to a solution within the reality of schools.

    I also allowed myself to be creative with the takeaways. Before reading the research studies, I used them as signposts and revisited them at the end. The initial encounter provided me with essential hooks to process the significance of detailed literature. Whereas the case studies offered qualitative terms and phrases such as ‘more’, ‘less’, ’greater’ and ‘improved’, the cited studies complemented with quantitative data. The comprehensive coverage served to reassure me that the author had done the groundwork for the conclusions he had reached.

    Kristian has weighed, tasted and sampled the complex ingredients within the subject matter. The format in each chapter affords you the option of digesting the content as either a set menu or a mezze, in accordance with your bespoke needs and appetite.

  15. Retrieval practice is an essential topic for every teacher and school leader to understand. As it has gained in popularity (a quick Google Ngram search shows exponential growth in the use of ‘retrieval practice’ since 2000), educators around the world are looking to get their hands on no-nonsense, practical solutions for embedding techniques that harness the testing effect into their specific contexts. Still’s Test-Enhanced Learning has provided educators with the primer and the blueprint for doing so. Through perceptive descriptions and illustrative case studies, Still takes readers on a journey through the research and related concepts of this powerful area of evidence-informed instruction. The result is a book that is accessible to both new and long-time enthusiasts of the science of learning. For a field that has often vilified testing while embracing fads, folk theories and other foolishness, this book is, if not a miracle, a giant step in the right direction.

Write your own review