Abstract Taking a test on a passage one has just studied is known to enhance later retention of the passing contents. This study examined the effects of three types of initial test on later retention: a short-answer test, a multiple-choice test, and a full free-recall test. Questions on the first two of these tests covered only half of the passage contents. Later retention was compared for both initially tested content and un-tested content with that of a control group not initially tested on the passage at all. The subjects were 57 secondary school students who studied a brief history text before taking one of the initial tests. All were given retention tests 2 weeks later. The classical testing effect (enhanced retention due to initial testing) was shown to be influenced by the type of initial test used. Thus, a testing effect was evident in the case of the initial short-answer test, but not in the case of either of the other two tests. A depth-of-processing view is advanced in interpreting this finding. The testing effect was found not to generalize to untested content and in one condition (the initial multiple-choice test), retention of untested content was depressed.