Spaced-Repetition - series 2

Vidya Gopinath for keySkillsetVidya Gopinath for keySkillset
Vidya Gopinath for keySkillset
Spaced-Repetition - series 2

How do spaced repetition help improve learning and maximize retention?


Has your mind ever gone blank during an exam? Years have passed since this happened. My exam was coming up and I was completely stressed out. Not just any exam, but the dreaded Mathematics test. I sat the last day of the exam and tried to cram as much as I could in those last hours and minutes. And on the day, when I opened the question paper my mind went blank. Had I known about the importance of spaced repetition technique during my school days, I could have done away with hours of memorizing formulas and theories for exams. Well, the main reason being that though I may have done well in exams or not, I definitely don't remember much of what I have learnt after it. And the lesson I learnt? That rote learning method is highly ineffective and completely tedious. 

So, then the next obvious question would be what exactly is the spaced repetition system?. Also, how can it help improve learning and maximize the retention span.

Learn about spaced repetition intervals

How often are you stressed when you have to learn a lot, during a short span of time? Very often, you end up cramming everything at the last minute. And the result? You do not retain most of the information. But, with the spaced repetition schedule, you can change all that. You can apply here the “work smarter and not harder” approach to life. 

Spaced repetition technique involves learning via the active recall method by practicing, where the practice is spread out around multiple sessions. Because, the brain basically learns the most when it is forced to remember the correct solution/ answer. Active recall is more effective than a passive review method, which most people adopt. Here, the term “spaced” from the “spaced repetition schedule” is the time gap that falls between the practice. 

Now, the next question may be, the ideal time gap that should be between the practice. This is really simple. No need to worry about it. Spaced repetition intervals really depend on the quantity of information you have to retain, the difficulty rate and the time frame to learn it in. So, essentially you can self-pace your learning, the way you want to. 

Benefits of spaced repetition technique

  • The technique exposes you to information periodically.
  • A high storage strength aids your brain in the formation of memories.
  • Increases the amount of time you spend actively rehearsing a memory in your brain as opposed to passively consuming information.
  • Enhances retrieval and recall of information by consolidating new information with previously stored related knowledge in long-term memory.
  • By repeating material at predictable intervals, your brain learns to anticipate when it'll see it again, allowing it to respond with greater alertness and attention for that period of time.
  • The technique enables you to divide larger tasks into smaller chunks of work spaced at regular intervals throughout the day.

Maximize your memory retention through spaced repetition 

What you really need to understand is that in “spaced repetition technique”, frequency definitely plays a very crucial role. Memory mastery comes from repeated exposure to the skill(i.e. formulas/ functions used). This is the most researched yet underutilized learning technique. 

For example, the app “Duolingo”, where you can learn a language of your choice relies largely on this technique. If you are familiar with the app, you will be clear on how it works. Now, everyone knows that we forget things that we don’t use. And learning a language can be really tricky, especially when you don’t have to use it particularly anywhere. But. by using spaced repetition techniques, the Duolingo app works on the logic that we remember things that we see multiple times. 

In this phenomena, memory retention is increased by spacing out the study/ review sessions of the target language as opposed to learning it in one sync. Hence, the advice to follow is to study a little bit each day instead of cramming it all at once. With a little practice you can leverage the benefits of the spacing effects, not just in Duolingo, but in whichever training or courses/online classes where the technique is applied. 

Why does spacing technique work?

Now one of the most important parts of a learning process is “forgetting”. “Forgetting” though is an accessibility problem. It exists in storage, but you can't locate it.What we need to know about forgetting is that the more you forget something, you will have to work harder to recall it since we last studied or learnt it, so the increase in learning will be greater. Forgetting is what allows the learning process to build, same as an exercised muscle.

Spacing technique can be applied to any skill, and it is basically about modifying the time periods that you study in, by using them as intelligently as possible. In spaced repetition, the same lessons are reviewed at increasing intervals. Just as you train your muscles to become stronger, you train your brain to store information longer in your long-term memory. Research into the spacing technique also provides an insight into how to lower forgetting and maximize the retention rate. 


This is a technique that keySkillset particularly adopts. Here, learning skills is like building a sand castle, ie. you build the foundation first and then you get to all the fun details or the towers. However, if you do not frequently reinforce the base, the whole thing will start to crumble. As a result, keySkillset has incorporated the spaced repetition system into its course structure in order to reinforce learners' skill development. It is even known to double a student’s retention rate. keySkillset usually recommends you to practice each module for at least 10 - 15 minutes and 3 repetition of each module until you familiarize the commands. This helps to build your muscle memory and optimize your learning. 

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