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There are some topics that you just can’t avoid when looking into modern strategies for studying. This weeks question is about one of those topics: spaced repetition.

I keep hearing about spaced repetition. A bunch of websites offer tools to study more effectively claiming spaced repetition is the key to their tools. I don’t remember ever reading your thoughts on spaced repetition. What do you think about it?
-Caleb

For the readers that haven’t come across spaced repetition in the past, it is the idea that you can’t just study once and remember it. In fact, you can’t just study something twice and remember it. The more times you study something, the less often you have to study it to keep it in your memory but you can never completely stop using something and remember it forever.

For example, if you want to remember that “caminar” means to walk in Spanish, you can’t just study it now and remember it forever. A week from now, you might have to restudy it. Then a month from now you should restudy it again. Then a year from now you should restudy it again. Then, you pretty much have to continue this forever. This is, to some extent, the nature of memory. Instead of studying it once, you need to study it repeatedly at extending periods of time.

Science has backed up this idea. Spaced repetition is definitely a factor when trying to remember something. This is really a common sense concept for anyone that’s dedicated themselves to studying. Eventually, you forget what you already learned. To get information to stick better, you need to be willing to review that information regularly. In fact, I recommend that all the time on this blog.

It is definitely a factor but there is a serious problem when most people discuss spaced repetition. Spaced repetition may be useful but the vast majority of spaced repetition tools are based heavily on pseudoscience.

These tools claim to have a serious scientific backing to them but the backing is generally too flimsy to count on to be anything consistent.

Right now, in my opinion, there is not enough information on spaced repetition to create a solid and consistent study tool relying on it. Each spaced repetition based tool will end up working great for some people and working terrible for others.

My point is not to say spaced repetition tools are useless because I’ve used them myself. I’m just saying to be cautious when anyone is trying to sell you on the concept of a “scientifically proven” spaced repetition tool. (Many of these tools take science on spaced repetition and claim it’s proof for their specific timeframe. The timeframe is the really tough part that needs the scientific backing.)

Some of these tools can be used and adjusted to make spaced repetition work well through experimentation but these tools are not the important part of the solution. It’s the experimentation that’s doing the real work. 

I highly recommend spaced repetition. I’ve even recommended it a few times without actually calling it by its name. You need to be willing to review information regularly to get it to stick. That being said, don’t trust people claiming to have figured out the ideal time frame for this repetition. There are no strong scientific backings for specific tools I’ve looked into. Many of these tools are just cookie cutter guesses at what a good routine should look like. While they may work alright, I wouldn’t be betting too much on them.

Keeping repetition to a minimum is my preference though. For more info on that read Repetition Helps You Remember. It Doesn’t Help You Think.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow and check out the archives to learn more. If you’re looking to learn it all even faster, be sure to check out the ebooks in the sidebar.

Q/A – What’s The Deal With Spaced Repetition?

PLEASE STOP!

This is an absolutely essential read for anyone on this blog.

I’m about 4 hours away from something big.

The story began a decade ago when I first started to share my study strategies with other students.

I had figured out the Holy Grail of academic optimization strategies – and every intermediate step to get to it. Using this strategy, I pulled a nearly 4.0 GPA while running a double course load in college – and once I started sharing it.

Students noticed.

Droves of them.

And then teachers noticed.

Most of the teachers that were looking out for their student’s best interest got what I was saying and supported the cause. Others… well… not everyone has the student’s best interest at heart.

Anyway…

Early on (even before Smart Student Secrets,) I started writing for average students.

I knew… I was NEVER one of the “smart kids”. I was mediocre at best. And I knew, if these strategies worked for me then they could work for just about anybody. And that’s who I wanted to connect with.

But… There was a problem…

I built an audience giving these strategies away. Sure…

And I’d get messages from them. And we’d talk. And I’d hear their stories.

I’d hear from A+ students that cut their study time by 90%.

I’d hear from B students that took their grades up to A’s.

I’d hear from teachers that were sharing my strategies with their students.

I’d hear from older students how these strategies changed their life.

I love it. I love introducing these strategies that changed my life to other people.

But there was always this… but…

What about the C students?

What about the D students?

What about the students that are currently failing?

Sure… Some would reach out.. but…

They never followed through… They’d take a small step. They’d sign up. They’d learn some killer strategies. Seeing right there how powerful they were going to be…

And then… life kicks in. They lose sight of their goals.

And it’s gone.

Forever.

Student’s came to this site to improve their life. They see the possibilities. But then… they move on.

In about 4 hours, I’m going to be introducing something – an email subscriber exclusive – that can help change that.

It’s going to make more Smart Students than at any other time in this site’s history.

If you’re ready to take your academic game to the next level – if you want to see it for yourself.

Write your email in the box. Check the confirmation you want emails. Confirm your email. And see for yourself.

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5 thoughts on “Q/A – What’s The Deal With Spaced Repetition?

  • July 25, 2020 at 9:25 am
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    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the rest of the website is extremely good.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2019 at 9:22 pm
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    Fantastic article, we’re going to repeat this on our new site. Many thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • September 29, 2019 at 5:06 am
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    Wonderful article. Expect to use this.

    Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 3:23 am
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    An attention-grabbing dialogue is value comment. I believe that you need to write extra on this matter, it might not be a taboo subject but typically individuals are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

    Reply
  • June 13, 2019 at 6:36 pm
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    Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I genuinely thought you would probably have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

    Reply

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