Spaced Repetition Helps Students Remember What They Study

Memorizing all the information on a test can take a long time. Students often try to cram everything in at the last minute, which is inefficient, to say the least, and won’t help them really show what they know on the test. The study technique of spaced repetition can help students speed up the learning process significantly — and it can complement almost any other study process.

Put simply, spaced repetition uses increasing intervals of time between review sessions of previously learned material. This exploits the spacing effect, which refers to the fact that studying the material a second time is more effective when the two study sessions are spaced apart.

The idea of spaced repetition has been in the news lately thanks to the article The New Way Doctors Learn, which talks about the spaced repetition studying technique in the context of medical school. The level of detailed memorization demanded by medical school is far beyond the expectations faced by most students, so this may not be the best way to introduce spaced repetition to your students. Also, the article presents the technique as entirely new and revolutionary when spaced repetition has actually been around in different forms for quite some time.

To introduce the concept of spaced repetition to teachers and students, I recommend the video below by Thomas Frank. Frank shows exactly how students can use spaced repetition to study more effectively for a test as well as how to combine this strategy with other popular study methods such as flashcards, note-taking, and apps.

I highly recommend the other videos on Frank’s channel, which offer information and recommendations on effective study skills.

What do you think of the spaced repetition study technique? Let us know in the comments.

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager