Spaced Revision vs. Spaced Repetition (Explained for Beginners)
Developing a personalized study strategy customized to suit your learning style, capacity, and needs will help improve your academics.
But if you are preparing for an important exam and find it difficult to recall what you have learned, it is time to change your method and choose a technique that will enable you to retain information better.
Sometimes when you review your reading materials all the time without pacing yourself, your brain becomes saturated. Soon you find yourself in the diminishing return zone.
Thus, studying for long hours is a poor study habit that affects your retention capacity. That is why you should consider incorporating spaced revision and spaced repetition into your study sessions. These two study techniques utilize the spacing effect in their approach.
While spaced revision is a strategy that involves integrating time intervals into your study revision sessions, spaced repetition is the process of revising a topic through active recall by spacing the repetition in specific intervals.
Keep reading this article to get comprehensive information about the two study techniques, how to incorporate them in your sessions, and which is best for learning.
What is spaced revision?
Spaced revision involves introducing specific time intervals into your revision sessions to avoid getting overwhelmed by the study materials.
This is an effective form of learning in which you take some breaks in between your study sessions to make the information indelible in your long-term memory.
Studying for 5 hours a day without taking a break can overstuff your brain. It is like flogging a dead horse. At the end of the day, you cannot remember half of what you have learned.
What is spaced repetition?
Spaced repetition is a specialized learning technique where you repeatedly review a study topic at specific intervals. It involves letting yourself forget some information you have learned to enable active recall.
With this learning method, the reviews are performed at increasing intervals and during a recap session so that crucial information becomes unforgettable and remains encoded in the memory.
Is there a difference between the two?
There’s a difference between the two techniques. Spaced repetition is a memorization technique whereby you repeatedly revise a topic at a spaced interval, while spaced revision involves integrating time intervals into your study sessions.
Both are based on the spacing effect phenomenon. This describes how you can maximize retention and improve long-term memory when learning sessions are spaced apart.
The spacing effect has been introduced in a study by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. He carried out an experiment where he memorized nonsensical syllables to test whether he could recall information over time.
According to this study, information slips out of memory after some time. This gave birth to the forgetting curve theory.
Allowing an optimal gap between revision sessions helps you retrieve information from memory quickly. That is why it is essential to revisit learning material regularly to improve your retention power.
Ebbinghaus’ discovery concludes that each repetition session increases the optimum interval before the next repetition is needed.
Also, it is easier to recall information when it is built upon things you already know. Every repetition helps flatten the forgetting curve.
Both spaced repetition and spaced revision reinforce how distributing learning over time helps maximize retention.
Steps to use spaced repetition and spaced revision
Like every other study strategy, these techniques require careful planning and deliberate efforts, accompanied by a solid commitment to succeed in your academics.
Follow these five simple steps to utilize them efficiently.
1. Categorize your study topics
The classification of the study topics to include in your spacing intervals will be determined by the nature of the subject and the level of your knowledge.
You should prioritize complex topics and those in which you have a broad knowledge gap. Additionally, identify essential topics in your syllabus that have a higher chance of appearing in your exam questions.
Use a spreadsheet or a table to categorize these topics to make your plan easier to create and follow.
2. Create the spacing intervals
Planning and creating the spacing intervals of your sessions is a vital step in these techniques. It should integrate an excellent work-life balance to avoid burnout.
When creating a structured revision plan, don’t forget to consider your learning capacity. If you are a slow or quick learner, your spacing schedule should be designed to accommodate this factor.
Although designing this schedule is not a one-size-fits-all thing, the most common is the one that follows the SuperMemo algorithm developed by Dr. Pior Wozniak.
The recommended intervals are:
- 1 day after the initial learning session- 1st repetition
- 7 days after the initial learning session-2nd repetition
- 16 days after the initial learning session- 3rd repetition
- 35 days after the initial learning session- 4th repetition
This schedule, however, is not cast in stone. Using this guide, you can create a plan that works for you.
For instance, if one of the topics in your syllabus is the “Reproductive Health of Women,” your plan should include a review session the next day after the initial study.
The second repetition should be scheduled three days after, and so on.
3. Study and review the topic for the first time
In this third step, use the schedule you have created to study the topic for the first time. This initial session should be intense and purposeful.
Purposeful reading will enable you to retain the information better because establishing a reason for your reading will enhance relevance.
Focus on what you are reading and eliminate every distraction and bad reading habit, such as subvocalization, that will slow down your reading pace.
Doing away with all distractions will save you time as you’ll be more focused and won’t need to reread the study materials.
If you are a slow reader, consider employing speed reading techniques to help you read faster, or you can also utilize a speed reading tool to read faster.
Take your time to comprehend what you are reading so that subsequent reviews of the study materials will be a walk in the park for you.
4. Recall the information for the first time
After the initial study of the topic, it is time to use spaced repetition to recall the information based on the schedule you created. This should happen the next day or any day you have mapped out for it according to your plan.
Focus on recalling the old information you learned during your initial study session instead of learning new information.
5. Recall the information again according to your spacing intervals
As per your schedule, you must recall the information again after several days. Ask yourself questions to help you remember and encode the information in your memory.
It is vital to follow the schedule you have already created to improve the effectiveness of this strategy.
Even if you are finding it hard to recall, be patient with yourself. The secret to this technique is that it will make the active recall process harder when your brain forgets some of the information.
This will enhance the retention process because it is now mentally challenging. But the minute you retrieve the information, it will be very difficult to forget. Because the harder it is to recall, the easier it is for the encoding process to take place.
Which one is best for learning?
Spaced revision and spaced repetition are essential study strategies. Depending on your learning needs, both techniques are necessary for learning because they maximize retention.
Spaced repetition is best for mastering a difficult topic you are struggling with. It helps improve the retention capacity of the brain, and it is efficient for the long-term recall of information.
On the other hand, spaced revision allows you to space your revision sessions. It helps ensure that the interval in your revision sessions are not jam-packed but distributed over time.
Spaced revision and spaced repetition utilize the spacing effect to encode information in the memory.
There is, however, a slight difference between the two techniques. Spaced revision requires integrating time intervals into your study sessions, while spaced repetition is the process of revising a topic at specific intervals.
The steps involved in these study techniques include classifying your study topics, designing a spacing schedule, and actively following the plan during revision sessions.
This strategy is essential in memorization and learning because it helps retain information in your long-term memory.
Alternatively, you can improve your memory by taking Iris Reading’s online course to help maximize your memory and enhance your comprehension capacity.