Spaced repetition: Science-backed secret to long-term memory

Max 5-min read

What is spaced repetition?

Spaced repetition is a widely recognized and evidence-based technique for improving memory retention and long-term recall of information. In a nutshell, space repetition involves dividing and spreading information over time, instead of attempting to learn everything in one go. The method is based on the forgetting curve, which shows a decline in recall ability over time unless information is reviewed. ⏳

Understanding the forgetting curve

The forgetting curve, a well-documented phenomenon in psychology, illustrates the natural decline in memory over time. The concept of the forgetting curve dates back to 1885, when German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus showed in his research how quickly information fades unless actively recalled. 

Spaced repetition combats this by strategically reintroducing information at optimal intervals, strengthening memory pathways and preventing knowledge from slipping away. By spacing out the review of information, spaced repetition helps to overcome the decline in recall ability and leads to better memory retention and long-term recall. This is because the spacing of reviews allows for information to be processed and consolidated in memory, which helps to strengthen the neural connections responsible for recall. In this way, spaced repetition aligns with the principles of the forgetting curve, providing a highly effective and evidence-based approach to learning.

This curve helps to illustrate the need for spacing out the review of information over time, instead of attempting to learn everything in one go.

forgetting curve spaced repetition

Evidence of spaced repetition improving memory

Cramming for exams might feel productive in the short term, but spaced repetition offers a scientifically proven path to long-term memory. Studies back up this approach:

  • A Journal of Experimental Psychology study showed participants using spaced repetition achieved an average recall accuracy of 80%, compared to just 60% for those who crammed everything in one go.
  • Another study in Memory & Cognition found that spaced repetition significantly outperformed reviewing multiple times in a short period or a single-session. Participants using spaced repetition achieved an average recall accuracy of 75%.

These results highlight the effectiveness of spaced repetition in boosting memory retention compared to traditional study methods. 🧠

Can medical students use spaced repetition for higher test scores?

The short answer is yes. The vast amount of information medical students need to memorize can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there’s evidence that spaced repetition can significantly improve test scores. 💯

A study in the Journal of Medical Education demonstrated the effectiveness of spaced repetition for anatomy learning. Students who used this method achieved an average test score of 88%, a significant improvement compared to the 78% average score of those who didn't use spaced repetition.

Spaced repetition in Voovo

The Voovo app is a useful tool for students to put spaced repetition into practice.

The app has a built-in spaced repetition system that adjusts the interval between reviews based on the user's interaction. Users can rate their knowledge of each flashcard, and the app determines the optimal time to trigger the information again for maximum retention.

Learn more about spaced repetition in Voovo from this video:

Medical students should incorporate spaced repetition into their studies

In conclusion, spaced repetition is a highly effective technique for improving memory retention and long-term recall of information. Medical students, in particular, can greatly benefit from using spaced repetition in their studies. 

Voovo provides a useful tool to help students make the most of spaced repetition and achieve better results in their studies.

This blogpost was written by the enthusiastic team of students at Voovo. We believe in a world where the fact that students forget 95% of the information they learn in only 3 days is not overlooked. We developed the Voovo app to help students absorb loads of difficult information quickly by creating the fastest and easiest way to create and use flashcards. Furthermore, we are sharing our experiences and knowledge through well-researched articles and helpful study tips.

If you'd like to try spaced repetition using flashcards, download our app from the App store or Google Play.

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