Spaced Repetition: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re looking for a way to improve your learning and make the most of your study time, spaced repetition may be the answer. What is spaced repetition? How does it work? And how can you use it to improve your own learning? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll answer all those questions and more. Plus, we’ll give you tips on how to find the best Spaced Repetition App for your needs!


What is Spaced Repetition?

Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves breaking up study sessions into smaller, more frequent intervals. The idea is that by spacing out your studying, you can better retain information and improve your long-term memory. It is especially effective for learning topics that require a lot of memorization and is highly utilized by students with great study habits.

At first spaced repetition intervals are closer together (e.g. every day), but as you master the material, the intervals gradually increase (e.g. every other day, then every week, etc.). This spaced repetition schedule allows you to review the information just before you’re about to forget it, which makes learning more efficient and effective.

Unlike cramming, which is a popular but ineffective study technique, spaced repetition can help you learn faster and retain information for longer. In fact, research has shown that spaced repetition is one of the most effective learning techniques available.


Why is Spaced Repetition so Effective?

There are a few main reasons why spaced repetition is so effective. First, it helps you overcome the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve is the tendency for humans to forget information over time. By breaking up your study sessions and reviewing material just before you’re about to forget it, spaced repetition can help you keep information fresh in your mind and reduce the amount of time you need to spend re-learning forgotten material.

Second, spaced repetition can help you build neural pathways. When you first learn something new, your brain forms new neural connections (or pathways) to store that information. However, those connections are weak and easily broken. With spaced repetition, you’re effectively reinforcing those connections and building stronger neural pathways that make it easier for you to access and recall information.

Lastly, spaced repetition uses active learning. Active learning is a type of learning that requires you to engage with the material, rather than just passively receive information. With spaced repetition, you’re actively recalling information and testing your memory, which helps you learn and remember better.


Steps for Using Spaced Repetition

Here are our steps to get started on learning with spaced repetition:

Choose a Testing Method for Spaced Repetition Learning

There are a few different ways you can use spaced repetition in your own learning. One popular method is to create flashcards. Whenever you come across a new concept, term, or piece of information, jot it down on a flashcard in addition to your study notes so that you can review it at regular intervals. This will help you commit the information to memory and recall it more easily later on.

There are also a number of spaced repetition apps that can help you with your learning. These apps often use algorithms to create personalized study plans and flashcards based on your individual needs. They can be a great way to supplement your own study habits and help you learn more effectively.

Create Review Content as you Learn

Remember that to use spaced repetition effectively you have to create review content as you’re learning new material. The key is to create this review content shortly after you’ve learned the material, while it’s still fresh in your mind. That way, when you go to review it later, you’ll be able to effectively recall the information and consolidate it in your memory.

When using spaced repetition you will be combining your studies with active recall, which is one of the most effective ways to learn. This involves testing yourself using the material you have created. So make sure that the review material you are creating is of high quality. What you learn will only be as good as the review material you create.

Feel free to add images to your flashcards. In fact, research has shown that adding images to your flashcards can actually help you learn and remember better. So if you’re having trouble remembering a concept, try adding an image to your flashcard to help jog your memory. Most spaced repetition apps, listed below, allow you to add pictures to their notes where appropriate.

Create a schedule

Once you have a learning medium, it’s time to create a study schedule. This will involve breaking up your study sessions into smaller intervals and spacing them out over time.

The optimal time intervals in between your spaced repetition learning depend on how soon an upcoming assessment is. If you have an assessment coming up soon, your intervals will be shorter (e.g. every day or every other day). As the assessment date gets further away, you can gradually increase the interval between your study sessions (e.g. every week or every other week).

The following table provides recommended intervals depending on how far apart tests are. Please remember that these intervals are just recommended guidelines – you should adjust them based on your own learning needs and preferences.

  • Soon (e.g. next week) | Every day or every other day
  • After that (e.g. in a month) | Every other day or every week
  • Later (e.g. in three months) | Every week or every other week
  • Much later (e.g. in six months) | Every three weeks

Review & Repeat

The final step is to review and repeat the information you’ve learned at each interval. This will help solidify the material in your memory and ensure that you can recall it when you need to.

When reviewing, make sure to test yourself on the material. This will help you to gauge how well you remember the information and identify any areas that need more work. If you find that you’re struggling to recall a certain concept, make a note of it so that you can focus on it in future study sessions. Likewise, if you find yourself mastering a concept include it less in future studies.

The beauty of having created flashcards is that you can use them any time. Whether it’s between classes, during transit, or during lunch break.


Best Spaced Repetition Apps

There are a few different spaced repetition apps available, each with its own unique features. Here are a few of the most popular options:

Anki:

Anki is a free, open-source spaced repetition app that’s available for a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. It features a simple interface and comes with pre-made decks for a variety of subjects. You can also create your own decks and add multimedia (images, audio, video) to help you learn more effectively.

Anki is highly used by professional school students making it our recommendation for spaced repetition apps.

SuperMemo:

SuperMemo is a commercial spaced repetition app that’s available for Windows and Android. This app was developed following an extensive study on long-term memory, and it is a real-world application of the spaced repetition learning method, which several psychologists have proposed for efficient teaching since the 1930s.

SuperMemo features a variety of tools to help you learn, including flashcards, articles, and audio/video recordings. You can also create your own decks and add multimedia to help you learn more effectively.

Mnemosyne:

Mnemosyne is a free, open-source spaced repetition app that’s available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This app was designed with the aim of being as simple and efficient as possible. It uses a sophisticated algorithm to schedule the best time for a card to come up for review. Difficult cards that you tend to forget quickly will be scheduled more often, while Mnemosyne won’t waste your time on things you remember well.

Mnemosyne features a sleek interface and allows you to create your own decks or use pre-made ones. You can also add multimedia to help you learn more effectively.

Memory Palace:

Memory Palace is a commercial spaced repetition app that’s available for iOS. This app was designed with the aim of helping you learn more effectively by using the spaced repetition technique.

Memory Palace features a variety of tools to help you learn, including flashcards, articles, and audio/video recordings. You can also create your own decks and add multimedia to help you learn more effectively.


Other Tips for Spaced Repetition

Here are a few other tips that can help you get the most out of spaced repetition:

  • Try to create a relaxed and comfortable environment when you study. This will help you focus and retain information better.
  • Make sure to take breaks during your study sessions, aka the Pomodoro Technique. This will help prevent burnout and allow you to come back refreshed and ready to learn.
  • Consider studying in groups. Being able to teach others shows ultimate mastery of a topic and also gives you the opportunity to fill in gaps in your current knowledge.
  • Try to associate the material you’re learning with something that you already know. This will help your brain make connections and better remember the information.

For a full list of study tips, check out our study habits post!


Summary of Content Covered

Spaced repetition is a powerful learning tool that can help you improve your memory and recall information more effectively. By using spaced repetition, you can create strong neural pathways that make it easier to access and recall information. There are a few different ways you can use spaced repetition in your own learning, including creating flashcards, making a study schedule, and using spaced repetition apps. Whatever method you choose, spaced repetition can help you learn more effectively and improve your memory.

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