Spaced repetition is a method to systematically memorize things. It is quite easy to implement and makes you remember things without much effort. I’m using it for some time and always fascinated by the results.

Memorization is a strange thing. I often surprise myself by remembering things I learned in the near past. But when I actually need to learn things, I had no idea how should I do it.

When I was a university student, I preferred the more practical courses. I was struggling to memorize all the details, but if I faced a challenge then I solved it even if it meant staying up all night. I found practical problems engaging and I knew exactly when I was finished.

On the other hand, I had no method to memorize things. I did not know if I knew the subjects or not, had no end condition. Also I mostly read the materials until I got tired (it happened quite soon) then put them aside. It was clearly not an effective method.

Spaced repetition remedies these. The first step is to create a challenge-response pair, like a flashcard. The challenge is what you see and you try to guess what’s on the other side. If you have enough of them (start with ~50, later you’ll see what fits you learning style), you have all the necessary preparations ready.

Recalling is important. Merely reading things makes remembering them harder. For every card, look at the challenge then try to guess the answer. If you got it right, discard the card. If not, move it to the back. Repeat that until the cards run out. Congratulations, you just finished day 1.

The key is to do this at gradually longer intervals. After day 1, do this at day 2, then 4, 7, 11 then 16. You can do it longer, but I’ve found that at this time I can safely remove the cards and I’ll remember them permanently.

There are a few softwares that aim to help you with the process, even calculate an “optimal frequency” for you, but you can implement it quite easily without any.

It works, and it gives you an exact method to learn nearly anything. Also it gives you a deadline, after that you’ll most likely know the card’s contents.

The only hard part is that you need to follow the routine for several days. Do you find it hard? Perseverance is the answer.