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Spaced Repetition

In an era of computerized study aids and multi-media education, one low-tech tool remains as important as ever: the flashcard. Simple paper cards, with a question on one side and an answer on the other, remain a great way to learn new information. Indeed, there is research to suggest that flashcards are the best tool for memorization.

Much of this research focuses on what is called "spaced repetition," in which information is reviewed over gradually expanding intervals. As scientists have learned more and more about how the human memory works, spaced repetition has become an increasingly popular way of assimilating new information.

The basic structure of spaced repetition is as follows: material is actively learned, and then reviewed between one and ten days later. It can then be reviewed 2 to 25 days later, and subsequently over an even longer period. In some cases, information will be so well consolidated after two or three reviews that it can be recalled years later!

It is easy to see how this theory of spaced repetition applies to flashcards. If you learn all of the information on a set of flashcards, and then go back over it a few days later, you will be amazed at how much you remember. And, as long as you make sure to review the information every once in a while, you never need to worry about forgetting it! The theory of spaced repetition is just another reason why training with flashcards is the smart and easy way to learn.

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