Is there any reason why chunking the digit span test would not help, and what is the average score without chunking? By chunking I mean any rehearsal besides saying the numbers one time as they appear.

I asked a similar question already:

Does the digit span test draw on any executive functions besides working memory, if "chunking" is not used?

Just intrigued why chunking might not work as well (and it's trivial that it won't always work as well), or not at all.

  • $\begingroup$ "Just intrigued because I score less when I try and chunk! Bluntly, I cannot chunk, and any attempt to do so is either barren or empties my head" This question seems off-topic to me due to it "relating to an individual". In other words you are asking here why chunking doesn't help you. If you can find references to back the fact that chunking does not help others with digit span tests, this would counteract the answer given in your similar question and make this question on-topic. Can you find anything like this? $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2018 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ this isn't a "self-help" question! @ChrisRogers no different to asking "what do low iq scores mean ps i have a low iq" $\endgroup$
    – user7852
    Aug 29, 2018 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers sorry if i was rude Chris $\endgroup$
    – user7852
    Aug 29, 2018 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ @user3293056 "chunking the digit span would not help"...but for what? what are you hoping to help? $\endgroup$
    – faustus
    Sep 1, 2018 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


As far as I know the effectiveness of chunking depends on (1) test speed and (2) amount of practice.

At low speed simple techniquest benefit almost everyone a little, even with virtually no practice. Quoting from Dempster and Zinkgraf

Recently, in fact, evidence has been found that questions the validity of the assumption that chunking plays a role in digit-span variance. In one experiment, Lyon (1977) presented 12-item digit sequences to adult subjects for whom conventional digit-span estimates were available, and instructed them to think of each successive group of three digits as a three-digit number. The important result was that subjects with high spans (average = 8.3) benefited just as much from the chunking instructions as those with low spans (average = 6.1). Thus, prompting all subjects to impose a common structure on the lists did not produce the convergence of the two groups that would be expected if chunking was the source of differences between subjects in the high- and low-span groups.

On the other hand

However, it does seem plausible that the temporal characteristics of the digit-span task (rapid presentation rate and single trial) simply allow little opportunity for chunking, unless the individual is exceptionally adept at creating chunks (Hunt & Love, 1972, pp. 248-250), or has received an extended period of practice (Ericsson, Chase, & Faloon, 1980; Gates & Taylor, 1925; Martin & Fernberger, 1929). For such an individual, chunking can be a highly successful strategy.

The "extended practice" mentioned there involves associative techniques not merely chunking.


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