Active Recall and Spaced Repetition: How to Study Effectively


How to Study Effectively Using Scientific Study Method, Active Recall and Spaced Repetition 

As students, we were always told to study for our exams and quizzes but nobody taught us how to study for them. 


Today, Tutopiya will bring you through two scientific study methods namely the Active Recall and Spaced Repetition. It works and help students study effectively. 


Have you ever felt like you understood everything your teacher taught you in class but only to find yourself struggling at home when you attempt the tutorial questions and homework? 


You are not alone! 

Active Recall And Spaced Repetition

What is Active Recall? 

Well, as the name suggests, you actively recall the information that you have learnt. This constant retrieval of information helps students to move information from short-term to long-term. 


Moreover, by constantly making your brain retrieve specific information, your brain will be able to form stronger muscle memory that will allow you to draw information whenever you need it.


At first sight, it seems like you are just memorizing information, but no.


Active Recall works best when it comes to learning about concepts and theories, learning how to spot what the question is asking and when to apply which concept to solve the problem. 


This study method not only helps to strengthen student’s ability to retain information but also helps students to connect the dots when it comes to different concepts. 


Active recall is ranked as one of the higher utility study methods in research from 2013


The process of active recalling at the beginning can be very uncomfortable since we are training our brain to do something that requires a significant amount of brainpower. 


But enjoy the process! It only gets better with practice! 


Now, what is the second most efficient study method? 


Of course, learning how to retrieve information is one important aspect, but how do you prolong this memory to an even longer period of time? 


Use Spaced Repetition! 

What is Spaced Repetition? 

Spaced Repetition involves spacing your revision into specific intervals over a period of time. 

(Source: https://wildfirecomms-images.co.uk/img/ebbinghaus-diagram-1-1479295300.png)


Spaced Repetition is a learning technique that has been discovered to fight memory decay. As seen in the graph above, if we stop retrieving this information after a specific period of time, we start to forget them. 


And the only way to keep them in our long term memory is to constantly review them. The more times you review these materials, the longer the intervals become before your next revision. 

How To Study With Active Recall And Spaced Repetition

These 2 study techniques will go a long way for your study journey. It might be hard to visualise all these so here’s a draft plan that Tutopiya made to help you understand how to incorporate them into your study plans. 

The draft plan, the topics are spaced out at different intervals. This is because spaced repetition helps students to recall information at the point where they are about to forget it. 


This way, it strengthens the memory and prolongs the length of this memory. 


How to Study with Active Recall?

So how can students apply active recall when studying? 


After having reviewed all your materials using any of the methods you prefer such as rereading, summarizing and highlighting your notes. Its time to start retrieving this information. 


Here are some ways you can actively retrieve information from your brain! 

Closed Book 

You can always test yourself by putting aside all your textbooks and notes and start working on practice questions to see how much you really know the material. 


For more specific subjects such as Biology and History where you rely heavily on active recalling, it is good to close your book and recall points by points. Keep going back and forth until you have mastered the material. 


It is also good to practice writing down what you are recalling each time to strengthen your muscle memory of this information. 


Flashcards are one of the most effective tools you can use to incorporate active recall into your studies.


If you are old school and prefer to write down your flashcards, by all means! 

If you are looking for a digital alternative, you can always try these out! 


  • Anki

    • Anki is a paid flashcard application. 
    • It also incorporates spaced repetition study method. It hides card that you have gotten correct until a few days later where when you practice on the deck of cards again, it pops up. 


  • Quizlet 

    • This is a free flashcard application that allows students to make flashcards and share their cards with others. 
    • Students can also use other student’s flashcards decks for revision. 
    • It, however, does not incorporate the spaced repetition study method. 


What’s great about using flashcards for studies is that they only take you less than 30 minutes a day to complete reviewing your flashcards and concepts. 


Start making these flashcards are the start of the topics where you have the most doubts about the topic. 


Jot down any doubts you have when you are working on practice questions. 


It is also useful after taking a test, you look at which topics you are most confused and doubtful about. You can then curate your flashcards to strengthen the weaker parts of the topics. 


Instead of cramming all your revision from chapter 1 to 26 of your science syllabus, start early by incorporating spaced repetition and active recall into your study plans. 


This way, by the end of your semester right before your final exams, you will have decks of flashcards and prior KNOWLEDGE to start revising and working through those past year papers! 

Preparing for the New Academic Year Ahead! Active recall and spaced Repetition 

Tutopiya is a Live Online 1-1 Tutoring Platform based in Singapore which specialises in Tuition for students aged 6 to 18. 


Tutopiya provides experienced and specialist, trained & screened Singaporean Tutors for secondary 1-4 students for all streams and all subjects. 


Learn multiple subjects in the comfort of your own home! 

Every lesson is personalised to target each student’s exact needs.


Tutopiya also offers a FREE 1-1 Trial lesson on any subject of your choice for all new students! Come experience online learning with Tutopiya today!

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