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How to Use Spaced Repetition Inside and Outside the Classroom

Spaced repetition is a learning strategy that involves providing learners with regular review and reinforcement of the material at increasingly longer intervals. This can help to consolidate the material in learners' long-term memory and reduce the rate at which they forget it.



A girl sitting on a library floor taking notes for spaced repetition


The basic idea behind spaced repetition is that, in order for new information to be effectively retained in long-term memory, it needs to be repeated and reviewed over time. This is because human memory is not a perfect storage system, and new information can be easily forgotten if it is not reinforced and reviewed. By providing learners with regular review and reinforcement, spaced repetition helps to ensure that the material is consistently being refreshed in their memory, which can facilitate long-term retention.


One common example of spaced repetition in action is the use of flashcards. When using flashcards to study new material, learners typically review the flashcards multiple times over a period of days or weeks. Initially, the review intervals are relatively short, with learners reviewing the material multiple times per day. Over time, the review intervals are gradually increased, with learners reviewing the material less frequently as they become more familiar with it. This gradual increase in the review intervals is an example of spaced repetition in action, as it helps to consolidate the material in learners' long-term memory and reduce the rate at which they forget it.



A stack of cards for spaced repetition on a table


There are many ways that teachers can use spaced repetition in the classroom and outside of it. Some examples of how to use spaced repetition in the classroom include the following:

  • Using flashcards or other review materials to provide learners with regular review and reinforcement of the material. Teachers can provide learners with review materials at the beginning of the lesson, and then allow them to use the materials to review and reinforce the material throughout the lesson.

  • Incorporating spaced repetition into class activities and assignments. You can design class activities and assignments that allow learners to apply and reinforce the material they have learned, and that provide learners with regular opportunities to review the material. For example, you can create a fun quiz for students that lets them repeat questions but focuses on how fast they can answer them, assigning additional points. Another idea is to have regular "fast-round" revision sessions within your class, where you get the students to go over the content they have learned e.g. two weeks ago. This can be just 5 minutes and done at the beginning of the class. If you use some gamification strategies (such as badges or collecting points), they might actually enjoy it.

  • Using spaced repetition software or apps. There are many spaced repetition software programs and apps that can be used to facilitate spaced repetition in the classroom. These tools can help you to create and manage review materials, schedule review sessions, and track learners' progress. The ones we like are Anki App, Cram, Quizlet, and Brainscape.



A boy using spaced repetition in front of a computer


In addition to using spaced repetition in the classroom, teachers can also provide learners with resources and support for using spaced repetition outside of class. Some examples of how to use spaced repetition outside of the classroom include:

  • Providing learners with review materials or quizzes that they can use to review and reinforce the material on their own. You can provide learners with review materials or quizzes using some of the apps mentioned above and give them as homework assignments. The students can then use them either on their own or with a study group.

  • Encouraging learners to create flashcards on their own to manage their review and reinforcement. There are many spaced repetition software programs and apps that can help learners to revise your subject and if they make the flashcards on their own, the effect is even stronger, because they need to go deeper into the subject matter. Also, using self-made flashcards enables the students to adapt them to their needs and offers a more individualized approach to learning.


To sum up, spaced repetition is a powerful learning strategy that can help learners to retain and apply new information over the long term. By providing learners with regular review and reinforcement at increasingly longer intervals, spaced repetition can facilitate easier memory retention and improve learning outcomes. Whenever possible, allow students to create their own flashcards to deepen the process.

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