Repetition is the key to effective learning

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How to prepare for an exam, so that knowledge stays in the memory for a long time? This question is of interest not only to students but also to psychologists, teachers, and cognitive scientists. Moreover, they are actively seeking answers, and several strategies for effective learning have been proven so far. The usual strategy of studying is indeed outdated. Modern students don’t want to do ordinary tasks and assignments. Moreover, everyone can type in Google “write my paper, please”, and hundreds of services have appeared. So writing boring essays isn’t about today’s students. They know how to manage their time, and can divide the important and necessary tasks for their future and secondary things. Especially, now finding the best essay writing service is much easier than writing a paper on your own. Besides, it doesn’t mean that students don’t want to study. They want so let’s look at some learning strategies step by step. Let’s start with repetition.

Strategy #1: Repetition is effective learning

It has been proven that learning and repeating at intervals is more effective than rote learning all the material at once. In studies that show the effectiveness of repetition, two groups of students are usually compared. One group learns all the material at one time and does not repeat it before the final test, and the other group repeats what they have learned at regular intervals. The repeaters always do better on the final test.

Why is repetition important?

Memory is formed through connections between brain cells – neurons. For example, you suddenly remember an event from a graduation party. Then the connections in your brain that are responsible for that memory will be strengthened and it will be easier for you to remember that particular event next time. Now imagine that your classmate remembered the same prom night, but a different event. In his brain, other connections – which are responsible for this particular event. And if you and classmate suddenly meet, it turns out that you remember different things about the same prom night.

We do not remember the event itself, but our last memories of it. When you meet a classmate, it is not the prom night that you will remember, but your last memory of it. It is the one that is re-framed in your memory – “re-recorded”. Your graduation might have been filled with bright events, but because you do not recall them, they are “erased”.

Learning material can also get “erased”. If you don’t repeat it, if you don’t strengthen the relevant connections in your brain, that material will gradually disappear from your memory. Remembering is more than an action. It is a dynamic process and very sensitive to change. That’s why purposeful repetition is so important – reinforcing connections between brain cells, and neurons. So if you still don’t remember about the best essay writing service reddit, here is a kind reminder about the online helpers. And now let’s find out how to repeat effectively.

Repeat at least once

Let’s turn to one of the first studies of effective repetition, which was conducted in 1925. Back then, researchers divided students into two groups. One group listened to a text six times in a row, and the other group listened to it three times in a row on one day and three times in a row three days later. The students had to play back what they had heard twice: immediately after listening to the text six times and four weeks later. After listening, the first group, which listened six times in a row, did the best. However, after four weeks, the second group remembered much better than the first.

So, cramming all the material the night before an exam is the right strategy if you just want to get a mark. If your aim is to gain knowledge in the long term, you will need to repeat the material at least one more time.

Repeat at fixed intervals

Does interval repetition really work? And if so, what is the optimum interval?

German psychologist Hermann Ebignhaus tried to answer these questions back in 1885. Based on his experiments, he developed a forgetting curve that showed the rate at which we forget information. Hermann’s experiments prompted further research into memory and the development of effective memory algorithms.

Subsequently, scientists have developed interval repetition methods in which the pause between repetitions gradually increases. For example, the 2014 study compared two groups of students: the first group studied foreign words with the same repetition intervals for four weeks, and the second group with increasing repetition intervals. On the final test, the second group showed the best results.

Researchers are still debating about the optimal pause between learning the material and repetition. It is now recommended to focus on the deadline and the goal with which you will master the material. The most effective repetition interval is 10-20% of the time between the first study and when you need to remember it. For example, if the exam is in a week, it is better to study the material and repeat it the next day. And if you want to remember what you have learned even after a year, you should repeat the material after three weeks.

Repeat before going to bed

We constantly hear about the benefits and necessity of sleep. One reason is that it is during sleep that new connections are formed between brain cells and old ones are cemented.

Yes, an experiment was conducted in 2012. One group of people learned a couple of words at nine in the morning and another group learned a couple of words at nine in the evening, before going to bed. Tests after 12 and 24 hours revealed that the group that learned a couple of words before bedtime remembered them much better. So studying before bedtime is especially effective when you need to learn the material by heart.

At the same time, sleep deprivation has the opposite, negative effect on memory. So getting enough sleep (8-10 hours a night) is the key to long term memory.

Stop in time

In the English-language literature, there is the term overlearning. This happens when you have mastered the material, but still continue to learn it. Like if you know how to solve quadratic equations, and you keep learning it anyway.

Studies have shown that overlearning does not pay off in the long run. So don’t waste time and don’t create the illusion of learning – stop in time.

How to incorporate repetition into self-study

Plan your learning time so that you repeat what you have learned. Consequently, you have to give up the idea of learning everything the night before an exam.

If you have time, you can plan repetition in increasing intervals. If you do not want to calculate the repetition day yourself, you can use free special applications.

Repeat what you have learned before you go to bed, and make sure you get enough sleep for 8-10 hours a night.

How to arrange repetition in the classroom

If you are a teacher, effective repetition can also be introduced into the classroom. Some activities you can do include:

  • schedule a few minutes in each lesson to repeat material from the previous one;
  • include repetition of previous lessons in your homework;
  • dedicate a class hour to planning. Help students plan their time – so that they repeat the material the day after class.

Repetition is an effective but not the only strategy for effective learning. We will cover others in the following materials.

If you are interested in effective learning strategies, read on:

  • An overview of the most effective learning strategies from Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, based on years of research and teacher experience.
  • Organising Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning. A practical guide to effective instructional strategies from the American National Center for Educational Research.
  • Scholarly article on promising teaching methods in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.


SND Team

We are a team of writers passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. We cover anything else that our readers may find interesting. This includes trending news, lifestyle and finance topics, consumer guides, and much more.


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