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What can you learn about learning from Harvard med students?

Spacing out learning over time leads to drastically improved retention.

Via Annie Murphy Paul at Time:

In more than two dozen studies published over the past five years, he has demonstrated that spaced repetition works, increasing knowledge retention by up to 50 percent. And Kerfoot’s method is easily adapted by anyone who needs to learn and remember, not just those pursuing MDs.

And there’s an easy way to implement this technique:

How can you learn like one of Kerfoot’s Harvard Medical School residents? Most email programs allow you to schedule the sending of messages, making it easy to create a spaced-repetition course for yourself. Divide up what you need to know—the text of a speech, the material on an exam—into smaller units, no more than a few sentences long. Then put the information into emails scheduled to be sent to yourself at weekly intervals. To achieve the greatest memory-strengthening effect, mix up old and new material, and put the information in the form of a question to which you’ll have to recall the answer. You’ll find that your email is making you smarter—no all-nighters necessary.

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About Eric Barker