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What is Spaced Repetition?

When it comes to exams, many medical students are crammers in the build-up to the test day. In the short term, cramming is probably one of the most effective ways to pack a large number of facts into your head. Unfortunately, after the exam, crammers do not remember most of what they learned. In fact, without reviewing information, the forgetting curve looks like an exponentially decaying curve.

As future doctors, it is especially important for medical students to learn how to effectively synthesize and retain the knowledge for the long-term, both to earn the best score possible on board exams and to later have the knowledge available to inform their clinical practice. There are many medical facts that doctors need to carry in their memories to work as experts in their profession.

One evidence-based method to better remember medical facts is through spaced repetition, which was first described by a German psychologist named Herman Ebbinghaus in 1885. Spaced repetition is a learning methodology that entails the use of increasing intervals of time between subsequent reviews of previously learned material. This method gives medical students the opportunity to learn more effectively, improve board exam performance, and to become a better-informed doctor.


Created by Lecturio

How does Spaced Repetition Work?

Instead of learning as many facts as possible within a short period of time, you should review material at increasingly spaced intervals after learning it. The perfect time to revisit information that you are trying to learn for your test day is right around the time you would naturally forget it.

Timing is, therefore, very important. This means you should have more widely-spaced intervals between study times for the material that you are more familiar with and shorter intervals between study sessions for the material you are less familiar with.

It turns out that thousands of studies have replicated this finding: people forget what they’ve learned at a predictable rate, but re-learning the material at spaced intervals dramatically improves long-term recall. With reminders of the initially learned material at particular intervals that are in direct relation to the forgetting curve, medical students can achieve much better long-term retention of the material. Thanks to spaced repetition, the forgetting curve starts to flatten out and results in better long-term retention.


Created by Lecturio

How to Integrate Spaced Repetition into your Lecturio Study Routine

Created by Lecturio

Normally, when you learn with Lecturio, you start by watching videos. In order to test whether you have memorized the presented content, we challenge you with integrated recall questions that pop up during each video. Memorization, however, is not so much intended to answer questions correctly right after you have learned a set of facts. Memorization is about remembering those facts as time passes.

That’s why Lecturio developed a tool that will enable you to easily and successfully review previously learned material. Lecturio has implemented a smart learning algorithm. To try spaced repetition for yourself, click on the button below:

Due Today and Memorized

With spaced repetition, you will see two new status indicators. Instead of Open, Wrong, and Right, the status of questions is denoted as Unanswered, Due Today, and Memorized.

Unanswered: These are questions you have not yet answered.

Due Today: These are either previously incorrectly answered questions, which have been prioritized in the spaced repetition quiz deck for further review, or questions answered correctly, which are due for review based on the algorithm.

Memorized: These are correctly answered questions, for which the date of repetition is in the future. This means that our spaced repetition system thinks there is a very high probability that you can still recall the correct answer to that question at the current time.

The Quiz with Self-Evaluation

As alluded to above, memorization is not only about answering a question correctly but internalizing facts in a way that allows you to apply them at any given time. That is why the confidence with which you can recall a correct answer is an important variable. The system asks you to indicate how confident you are that you’ve correctly answered the question.

If you answered the question correctly, and you indicated confidence in your answer, the system will set aside that question for you to take again at a later date. If you answered correctly, but weren’t sure that you did or if you answered incorrectly, the system will, in most cases, ask you to retake the question on this same day or in a shorter interval of time.

Created by Lecturio

More to Come!

For the future, Lecturio wants to develop more tools for you to have a perfect learning experience; giving you the means to add questions to a personal quiz deck, create multiple quiz decks by topic, get more detailed statistics, configure a custom algorithm, and set up reminders.

With the spaced repetition and the other upcoming tools, you don’t need to re-learn a massive amount of forgotten information anymore. Get the perfect exam preparation with the best long-term benefits and integrate the spaced repetition into your daily study routine. You have what it takes to study efficiently and earn a high USMLE score!

Learn. Apply. Retain.
Your path to achieve medical excellence.
Study for medical school and boards with Lecturio.

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5 thoughts on “Spaced Repetition – Study Smarter, not Longer!

  • David Duperreault

    How do I reset my spaced repetition?

    1. Lisa-Marie Morig

      1. Open the settings on the spaced repetition overview page of your account.
      2. Click on “Reset Deck” and confirm.

      All due and memorized questions will not be shown on the spaced repetition overview quiz anymore. Instead, they will be presented as “unanswered” on all the other quiz dashboards. The course progress and the progress of your tasks in the study planner will not be affected.

      Best regards,
      Lisa from Lecturio

  • Mathias Holgersen

    Is it possible to “reset” your spaced repetition, so old questions are removed and only future questions pooled in?

    1. Robert Bender

      I would like this feature too.

      1. Natan Loyfman