Feeling the Future

A research article in press in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" by Daryl J. Bem of Cornell University shows that it is possible to study for a test after you take it... and influence your grade! As amazing as it seems, that is what the statistics show.

the current experiment tests the hypothesis that memory can “work both ways” by testing whether rehearsing a set of words makes them easier to recall—even if the rehearsal takes place after the recall test is given. Participants were first
shown a set of words and given a free recall test of those words. They were then given a set of practice exercises on a randomly selected subset of those words. The psi hypothesis was that the practice exercises will retroactively facilitate the recall of those words, and, hence, participants will recall more of the to-be-practiced words than the unpracticed words.

In other words, one hundred Cornell students were given a bunch of words to look at. Then they were asked to recall as many as they could. After that recall test, a computer randomly chose a subset of the original set of words for the students to study. A statistical analysis was then performed, and showed that the students did better at remembering the words they studied post-test! Woah. Maybe it's not too late for me to ace those SATs.