Distributed Practice

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Distributed Practice

The distribution of practice effect

Research has shown that memory is improved by distributing practice (i.e., reviewing, studying) over time. However, immediate rehearsal of what has been learned is also vital. Thus, “distributed practice” consists of two parts: spacing and immediate rehearsal.


Learning is more efficient and effective when we study the same material over several sessions, spaced out over time. Not only does it improve recall, but the time it takes to learn something is also reduced. For example, a task that would take 30 minutes may take only 22 minutes (total time) if the learning is spaced out over two days. A 30% time saving and you’re more likely to remember it!

Immediate Rehearsal

If you test yourself and can recall the correct answer, your memory for those facts will be considerably strengthened compared to simply being told the information.

Try out this strategy:

  1. Say the new information out loud.
  2. Self-test or rehearse immediately (i.e., within the span of your short-term memory).
  3. Leave this item and go to the next item—learn and rehearse this new item. This gives you a short break (spaced practice) from the first item.
  4. Go back to the first item again. Rehearse again.


Source: Rose, C. (1985). Accelerated Learning. NY: Dell Publishing