Study Strategy: Spaced Repetition

[box] One of the major takeaways from my time in fact-heavy classes was a study technique called spaced repetition. I came across this as a freshman, overwhelmed with the information I had to process in preparation for Midterm I. This method is an application of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve (shown below), which is a visual representation of how we forget what we learn. The idea of this technique is to review the material you are most likely to forget at that specific point in time.

Ebbinghaus Forgetting CurveThe go-to technique for studying for classes like this is flashcards. While many have found success with this technique, one can be more efficient with spaced repetition. I consider it to be leveled-up flashcards in that effect. Think of it like this. Newly learned information is like a rechargeable battery. Say you’re given 3 batteries at 10%, 60% and 90% and limited electricity. One would charge the battery at 10% first, right? Now let’s equate batteries to facts, and electricity to time. Why would you go through a stack of 100 flashcards just to find the one you’re most likely to forget?

It is in your best interest to review the facts you are most likely to forget (charge the batteries at 10%!). How can you incorporate this technique with your stack of flashcards? You could, for example, put them in separate stacks for each day you flip through them and alternate the stack you go through each day. This is called the Leitner System. Less cards = less stress! Or, you could use the free program Anki, which makes use of an algorithm that takes into account when you make cards, the time it takes you to flip to the other side and the times you get the cards wrong, to create a smart stack that optimizes your learning in as little time as possible.

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