How well do you know your work/studies?

It’s a difficult one…

How well do you know your work once you have completed studying? How do you know if you have studied enough?

It’s difficult to tell, isn’t it?

One way of trying to determine whether you have studied enough is to try and anticipate what could be in your class test or exam. If you can truly do this, you have most likely studied enough. Of course, this also means that you will be able to answer the exam questions that you have anticipated, in full!

It is always a good idea to practice with past exams, and tests, too.

In order to determine HOW WELL DO I KNOW MY WORK? you can also ‘test’ yourself by asking yourself a few questions. The answers will give you an indication if you know your work well enough.

This requires

  • deeper thinking and
  • self-analysis.

The questions are loosely based on a phenomenon called the ‘Anti-Knowledge Effect’ or the ‘Four Stages of Competence’. (You don’t need to remember what the phenomenon or the stages are called).

Stage 1:

Unconscious incompetence

Do you understand your work / a specific section of your studies?

If the answer is a definitive NO, you know that either you haven’t studied enough or you haven’t studied at all. Alternatively, what you are working on is too difficult and you need to call in the help of a fellow-learner, a tutor or a teacher to re-explain it to you so that you can fully understand it and thereafter you can work on it on your own.

You should also ask yourself:

Do I want to learn? Am I motivated at all?

If the answer is ‘no’, you should address the motivational issue first.

Stage 2:

Conscious incompetence

Do you realise which sections of your work you do not understand?

If you know which sections pose a problem to you, then you know what needs to be addressed / needs more time and concentration.

Be aware that when you test yourself on this section of work, you will still make mistakes but rest assured, this will improve over time.

Stage 3:



Do you understand your work / a specific section of your studies?

If the answer is YES, test yourself. If working out answers to questions or a past paper requires a lot of concentration, it means that you know your work but that there is still room for improvement.

Tip: If you are trying to study more effectively at this stage, break your work/answers into smaller sections/steps.

Stage 4:

Unconscious competence

Do you understand your work / a specific section of your studies?

If the answer is YES! YES! YES! it means that answering this section has become ‘second nature’ to you. You will find it easy to answer topic-related questions as well as exam questions. You now know your work so well that you will be able to help others by explaining it to them.

Whatever you do, don’t fall prey to the Dunning-Kruger Effect! Read more on a previous TAS blog post here.