Learning Matters (Spacing, Pacing and Testing)

How much you can remember plays a key role in exam success. So can we improve our memory? Is cramming really a successful revision method? What if spacing out your revision sessions was more effective? This would mean you could do the same amount of work, but yield much greater results from it. 

The Spacing Effect 

Spaced repetition is the process by which new or difficult concepts are studied more frequently than easier known concepts —so continually challenging yourself on your weakest areas of knowledge. Research states that humans tend to forget large amounts of information if they only learn something once. 

Since then, research has consistently shown the power of spacing out your learning. This means doing little and often, instead of a lot all at once. To commit something to memory, it takes time and repetition. It is important to allow time for the material to be forgotten and re-learnt. This process allows you to cement it into your long-term memory, (this blog on the exam countdown talks about this in more detail). 

Testing to attack your weaknesses 

The more you repeat hard concepts or the aspects of learning that you find tricky, the more likely you are to retain them. Consolidating learning on to flashcards allows you to regularly test yourself so that learning goes in to your long term memory.  

This week’s freebie is flashcards You can use these to test yourself on the go by–  

  • Test yourself on the go – on the bus, over lunch, waiting for a listen 
  • Give the cards to a friend or family member and ask them to test you 
  • Set timers – how much can you recall confidently in 30 seconds  
  • Refresh your cards. Colour code them by how easy or hard you find them. Green cards are your confident areas, orange cards are the areas you need to repeat again and again. 

If you don’t like writing flashcards, try some online ones. Brainscape: The Best Flashcards App | Make Flashcards Online allows you to design your own, or use those created by students like you.   

Remember, as it is not just the ‘what’ that matters, but the ‘when’ as well. An hour over 7 days, is better than 7 hours in one day. It’s about balance. 

Your teachers, tutors and keyworkers are on hand to help you develop your files. If you need support, just ask and we will be happy to help.   


Find that Freebie! 

You will find this week’s freebie in the place where you can also find the perfect study space – from seminar rooms, to private study pods. Learning Matters and having a place to study is key, so for this week’s freebie, find Michelle and Emily! 

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