Remember it Like it was Yesterday.

Do you ever have this problem, where you memorize a topic for an exam and later after some time let’s say a month if that topic is repeated in an exam forget most of it?

In these series of posts, we focus on how to learn and retrieve the information that was once committed to memory, in this post, I am trying to explain the basis of spaced repetition.

“Spaced repetition is a method of reviewing material at systemic intervals, over a period of time before it is forgotten.”

Before heading to the application of spaced repetition, we will understand how it works through the forgetting curves.


 A German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered the experimental study of memory and is known for forgetting curves and serial positioning effect. He experimented, and recorded his memorization of syllables (without any meaning), to test what he could remember after different time intervals. When he recorded his results on a graph, he found out that his memory of these unintelligible syllables declined with time, producing curves on the graph.

This presents that we need to review newly memorized information before, our memory of it declines. There are also other factors that may affect our memory including, the level of difficulty of the material, mode of learning, level of stress, and sleep.

Source: Medium

If you are studying a certain topic today, and you were to graph its memorization, time will be along the x-axis while the percentage of memory retention (found by testing) will be plotted along the y-axis.

The first time we memorize a given set of information, its level of retention drops as time passes. This is represented by the forgetting curve. What if it is reviewed? When reviewed a week later, the primary memory retains for a little longer. Additionally, the topics that were skimmed, might be scanned for, if a question is not answered. Thus, the required retention level of the primary memory, of the given information is maintained through repetitions that are spaced through time intervals.

The memory technique employed is also an important factor. Active Recall is the best memorization technique based on scientific evidence, you can read about it here.

How to do spaced repetition?

The answer to that can be apps like Anki and Quizlet. I find Quizlet better, as it has in-built testing features and has modern UI. Unfortunately, Quizlet is a paid app. Anki is famous for spaced repetition. The process of making flashcards is meticulous. I plan to study all the drugs in Pharmacology with Anki flashcards.

If one does it manually, I believe it’s easier. I use a notion with a page for a set of topics. The page stores all the questions, with the toggle list function. When dropped down, it shows the answer. It is easier to review. The page has three dates linked to it, the date it was first studied on, the date it was reviewed last time, and the next revision date. When viewed in calendar mode, you get to know which topic is to be studied and when.

You can review the notes a day after, then a week later, then on the 14th day, then 28th day, and then once every three months.

Hoping it will be easier for you.

“Everything is difficult before it is easy.” -Thomas Fuller


About the writer: Aimed for Kepler-452b, but as you know E=mc2. Medical student loves life. Follow here for more:



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