How to Remember More of What You Learned With Spaced Repetition
Learning new information is exciting and important, but it can be frustrating when we forget what we’ve learned shortly after studying it. Fortunately, there’s a powerful tool that can help us remember more of what we’ve learned: spaced repetition.
Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves reviewing information at gradually increasing intervals. Spacing out your review sessions can help your brain consolidate the information more effectively, making it easier to remember over the long term.
The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve and Spaced Repetition
The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is a concept developed by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, which describes the rate at which we forget information over time. Ebbinghaus discovered that when we learn new information, we initially retain a lot of it. However, over time, if we do not revisit the information, we forget it at an exponential rate. The forgetting curve illustrates that we forget the majority of what we have learned within the first few days after learning it, and the forgetting curve levels off over time.
Spaced repetition is related to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve because it is designed to combat the rapid forgetting that occurs after learning new information. The basic idea behind spaced repetition is to review the material at optimal intervals determined by the forgetting curve. By reviewing the material at these intervals, spaced repetition aims to reinforce the material in our memory and prevent it from being forgotten.
The forgetting curve suggests that we are most likely to forget information within the first few days after learning it. Therefore, the initial review sessions in spaced repetition occur within the first few days after learning the material. The review sessions are spaced further apart as time passes but still occur at regular intervals. The intervals are adjusted based on how well the learner retains the information.
Using the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve principles, spaced repetition helps learners optimize their learning and retention of new information. By reviewing the material at optimal intervals, spaced repetition helps learners commit the information to long-term memory to recall it later when needed.
How to Use Spaced Repetition
Start with a strong foundation
Before you start using spaced repetition, make sure you have a solid foundation of knowledge of the topic you’re studying. If you don’t understand the basic concepts, it will be difficult to remember more advanced information. So, take the time to thoroughly understand the basics before moving on to more complex topics.
Use a spaced repetition app
There are many spaced repetition apps available, such as Anki, Memrise, and Quizlet. These apps make it easy to create flashcards and quizzes for the information you want to remember. They also use algorithms to determine when to show you the information again based on how well you remember it.
Start with small chunks of information
When you’re first starting out with spaced repetition, it’s important to start with small chunks of information. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much information at once. Instead, break it down into manageable pieces that you can review and remember.
Review frequently at first, then space out your review sessions
When you’re first learning new information, it’s important to review it frequently to help your brain consolidate it. You can start spacing out your review sessions as you become more comfortable with the information. For example, you might review the information every day for the first week, then every other day for the second week, then once a week for the next few weeks.
Mix up your review sessions
To keep your brain engaged and avoid boredom, mixing up your review sessions is important. Use different methods, such as flashcards, quizzes, and practice questions. You can also change up the order in which you review the information to keep it fresh.
Use active recall
Active recall is the process of trying to remember information without looking at the material. This is an effective way to reinforce your memory and improve your ability to recall information later. Use flashcards with prompts to help you remember the information, or try to write down everything you remember about a particular topic without looking at your notes.
Cramming might seem like an efficient way to study, but it’s actually less effective than spaced repetition. When you cram, you’re more likely to forget the information shortly after the exam. Instead, use spaced repetition to review the information consistently over time to help your brain consolidate it more effectively.
6 Stages of Learning with Spaced Repetition
The first step in the spaced repetition process is encoding. Encoding is the process of learning new information and committing it to memory. When you first encounter new information, your brain stores it in your short-term memory. However, if you want to remember that information over the long term, you must move it into your long-term memory through encoding.
The next step in the spaced repetition process is retrieval. Retrieval is the process of recalling the information you learned. When you retrieve information from your memory, you activate the neural pathways associated with that information, strengthening the connection between the neurons and making it easier to recall that information later.
Forgetting is a natural part of the learning process. When you first learn new information, your brain starts to forget it almost immediately. However, by using spaced repetition, you can prevent the information from fading from your memory entirely.
The key to spaced repetition is spacing out your review sessions. When you first learn new information, you must review it frequently to help your brain consolidate it. However, as you become more comfortable with the information, you can start to space out your review sessions. The goal is to review the information just before you forget it, which helps reinforce the neural pathways associated with that information.
When you review information using spaced repetition, you’re not simply reviewing it once and moving on. Instead, you’re reviewing it at gradually increasing intervals. For example, you might review the information the next day, then again in three days, then again in a week, then again in two weeks, and so on.
The ultimate goal of spaced repetition is mastery. Mastery occurs when you’ve internalized the information to the point where you can recall it effortlessly and accurately. When you’ve achieved mastery, you don’t need to review the information as frequently, as your brain has already consolidated the information and made it a part of your long-term memory.
With practice and patience, you can use spaced repetition to become a more effective learner and improve your ability to remember the information you need to know.
How to Use Spaced Repetition for MCAT Prep
Preparing for the MCAT can be a daunting task, but spaced repetition can help make it more manageable. By spacing out your review sessions, you can improve your recall of the MCAT material and boost your chances of success. Here’s how to use spaced repetition for MCAT prep:
Spaced repetition works best when you have plenty of time to review the material. If you’re planning to take the MCAT in six months, start using spaced repetition to review the material now. This will give you plenty of time to review the material thoroughly and ensure that it’s committed to memory.
Use High-Quality Study Materials
To make the most of your spaced repetition practice, it’s important to use high-quality study materials. Look for resources that are specifically designed for MCAT prep, such as the AAMC’s official MCAT materials. These resources are designed to help you master the material on the MCAT and are an essential part of any successful spaced repetition practice.
Break the Material into Chunks
The material on the MCAT can be overwhelming, so it’s important to break it into manageable chunks. This will make it easier to review the material using spaced repetition. For example, you might break the material into chunks by subject, such as physics, biology, and chemistry.
Use a Spaced Repetition App
A spaced repetition app can be a helpful tool for MCAT prep. Look for an app that allows you to create flashcards or other review materials and has built-in spaced repetition functionality. Anki and Quizlet are popular MCAT prep apps with spaced repetition functionality.
Focus on High-Yield Material
To make the most of your spaced repetition practice, it’s important to focus on high-yield material. This material is most likely to be tested on the MCAT, which is most important for your future career as a medical professional. Focus on high-yield material during your review sessions to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your spaced repetition practice.
Finally, it’s important to take breaks during your spaced repetition practice. Your brain needs time to rest and recover, so it’s important to take breaks to prevent burnout. Additionally, taking breaks can help your brain consolidate information and make it easier to recall later.
The 6 Benefits of Learning with the Spaced Repetition Technique
There are numerous benefits of learning with the spaced repetition system. Here are some of the most significant advantages:
- Improved Memory Retention: Spaced repetition helps to improve memory retention by allowing learners to review material at optimal intervals. By spacing out the review sessions, learners are able to reinforce the information they have learned and commit it to long-term memory.
- Efficient Learning: The spaced repetition system is an efficient way to learn new material. Instead of spending long hours cramming for a test, learners can spread out their review sessions over time. This means that they can cover more material in less time without sacrificing understanding.
- Long-Term Retention: One of the biggest advantages of spaced repetition is that it helps to promote long-term retention. Because the information is reviewed at optimal intervals, it becomes more firmly entrenched in the learner’s memory. This means that the learner is more likely to remember the information in the long term.
- Personalized Learning: Spaced repetition can be customized to suit individual learners’ needs. Learners can adjust the frequency and difficulty of their review sessions based on their level of mastery. This means learners can tailor their learning to suit their needs and learning styles.
- Improved Test Scores: Spaced repetition has been shown to improve test scores. By reinforcing the material over time, learners are better able to recall the information during exams. This can lead to higher grades and better academic performance.
- Time-Saving: Spaced repetition can save learners time by reducing the need for extensive review sessions. Instead of spending hours reviewing material, learners can review the material more efficiently over time. This means they can spend more time on other aspects of their studies or activities.
Overall, spaced repetition can be a powerful tool for MCAT prep. By using effective spaced repetition techniques, you can improve your ability to recall the material on the MCAT and boost your chances of success. Start early, use high-quality study materials, break the material into chunks, use a spaced repetition app, vary your review sessions, focus on high-yield material, and take breaks to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your spaced repetition practice.
Make sure to check our other blog posts for more information on MCAT prep. If you need more personal assistance with your journey to your favorite medical school, please contact Jack Westin’s team of professional academic advisors. Check our website to access our free weekly live sessions, affordable MCAT prep courses, and tutoring options.