Memorising – Long term (Part 1)

When you break down a large task into smaller parts; the smaller parts may involve having to memorise something. Maybe even memorise a lot of things. For something like this, you might think you’d simply have to repeat it to yourself until its a part of your very soul but that’s a very inefficient way to learn things.

Introducing, Herman Ebbinghaus. He introduced this graph in psychology called the forgetting curve:


The first line in red is how we naturally remember and forget things. Typically after learning something, after a month or so you’ll have retained barely 20% of it. So kinda obvious but memory declines overtime. And as a descendant of Sherlock Holmes I can safely say when you revise something you remember it better.

The very very very cool thing is what happens after you revise. Looking back at the graph you’ll notice it takes longer to forget it. (Don’t know the exact numbers here) But this is the fact we can exploit. Further, the time between each review can be increased and it’ll still have the same effect.

Let me just say how cool that is. I’ll even fancy quote it. I can do the same revision (which is memorisation based) by studying less frequently.

The frequency pattern you will kind of have to figure out on your own, everybody is different at the end of the day. The typical pattern you’ll see on the internet is to learn the first day, then revise the following day, then following week, then month, (then maybe 3 months). Everyone is different so you may have to revise earlier or maybe you can relax more.

Remember however that you have loads of things that you need to memorise so there is a whole cycle of things that you’ll be busy with. It can get very complicated if you were to plan every little thing so I use something called Anki.

It uses the same idea and shows you memo’s. I’ve seen anki used to help teach volcabulary but I also use it for university work. I create a deck writing ‘week 1 to 12’ followed by whatever class its for, say ‘calculus III’. Anki every day gives me a random week, I spend some time revising it and if it was easy I click ‘easy’ in the program and the next time that same note appears is like 4 days later. If I click ‘hard’ then it appears like the next day. All in all, it basically tells me what to revise and simulates this application of the forgetting curve.


(Part 2 coming soon)

TL;DR This is too hard to put into one line. Just read it 😛


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