What is Spaced Repetition?

Vidya Gopinath for keySkillsetVidya Gopinath for keySkillset
Vidya Gopinath for keySkillset
What is Spaced Repetition?

Spaced repetition is a method of learning or practicing new knowledge/skills in a gradual manner. While spaced repetitions may seem novel, it's not really a new concept. A German psychologist named Herman Ebbinghaus first described it in 1885. As a study technique, spaced repetition learning is extremely effective because you are deliberately hacking your brain. 

Meanwhile, the below data by the British researchers at the University of Leicester show how effective spaced repetitions can be. For this they built a custom-built web app. Each learner could have a personalized repetition schedule for physics study material. The app allowed students to request a spaced repetition schedule, a mass repetition schedule, or to not use it at all.

  • The average exam score for learners who chose space repetition was 70%.
  • The adjusted mean exam score was 64% for those who preferred massed usage.
  • Those who didn't use the app at all had an adjusted average exam score of 61%.

Now, let’s see how the spaced repetition learning method works. 

How spaced repetition technique works?

You could start by plotting your retention or how much you retain of something you learn vs the time. First day you learn something. Now, if you do not practice  it again, the forgetting curve will be like an exponentially decaying curve. Now, if you review(practice) or actively retrieve what you have learnt at increasingly spaced intervals after learning it, then the forgetting curve will flatten out and you will get a better long term retention. 

The key is to review the material at well spaced intervals, multiple times. The best time to revisit a lesson/ skill is actually just around the time that you are naturally likely to forget it. Because forgetting follows the exponential curve, the trick is to time your studies or plan the study sessions around it. So, ideally you should plan for longer intervals between the lessons/ modules that you are more familiar with and shorter intervals between the modules that you are less familiar with. 

Tips to use spaced repetition for effective learning 

Spaced repetition promotes unconscious muscle memory so that skills are acquired without much conscious thought after sufficient practice. Meanwhile, find these suggested quick recap of the tips on how to use spaced repetitions for better retention and more effective learning. 

  • Learn and right at the time you are likely to forget it, review/ practice the skill/ module again 
  • You work to build your muscle memory by working hard to practice often and multiple times at regular intervals
  • Continue to practice at spaced intervals till you are familiar with the skill/ module 


This immensely powerful technique is not only one of the many keys to retaining information, but it also helps with learning as you grow older. And how it works effectively is that for you to keep any information in your brain, you have to refresh it periodically with specific time intervals. Many online courses and LMS training platforms have adopted this technique to deliver more effective learning methods. 

keySkillset is one such LMS platform that designs its courses based on this spaced repetition techniques. keySkillset recommends that you practice each module for at least 10 - 15 minutes and repeat each module 3 times until you are familiar with the commands for Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Financial Modeling or Python coding. 

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