Developed in 1885 by German Psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus, the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve is a concept which tells us about the recall rate of the human mind. Herman Ebbinghaus tested this concept by writing down a list of consonant-vowel-consonant words. These kinds of words are known today as “nonsense syllables” because they make no meaning at all. Examples of nonsense syllables are DAX, BOK, and YAT. He wrote down a total of 23,000 words like this and learnt all of them. Over time, he checked how many of these words he could recall. He was able to recall words lesser and lesser over time. With each passing day, his memory of the list was going lower and lower. That is when he came up with a graph to understand the pattern of his decaying memory.

Source: Praveen Shrestha, “Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve,” in Psychestudy, November 17, 2017, https://www.psychestudy.com/cognitive/memory/ebbinghaus-forgetting-curve.

From this graph, he understood that the amount of knowledge retained for the first few days after the learning drops steeply. After that steep drop, it’s obvious that Ebbingaus was able to remember the same nonsense syllables that he remembered the day before. What this means is that by revisiting or reviewing what we learnt from time to time will help us not to forget it.

If there is someone’s memory that you are in awe of, they have probably learned to tackle the  Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. Before getting into ways to get over the curve we have to understand the concept of forgetting. The rate of forgetting is simply the time period in which the mind forgets the learned information. The factors which influence the rate of forgetting within a mind are: 

  • Poor representation of the information
  • The establishment of meaning behind the information
  • Physiological elements such as sleep and stress

A common misconception is cramming will help. This is absolutely not true. Things stay fresh in our minds in the initial stages and it is a must to cement things at that time. When you cram one day before a deadline your mind is able to only retain fifty to sixty percent of what you learn at the time and this leads to poor results. This is why it is important to start on in the initial stages of learning something.

A simple hack to render the curve as redundant is spaced repetition. Spaced Repetition is a method of learning that was developed to ensure that information is retained in one’s mind by consistent reviewing and revising in set intervals. This learning technique takes into account the psychological spacing effect. If you review the matter too early, you would be wasting time, and if you review it too late it becomes less reviewing and more studying again. The best way to know when to review something is when you can recollect 85% of the subject matter. That is when it is a good time to review. This is a scientifically proven way to store information in our memory for a longer time. 

For example, imagine you have attended an hour-long session. Once you reach back home your mind is still fresh with all the points from the session. This is when you should try finding trigger points that will help you remember the session in parts. Suppose you remember three trigger points that recall twenty minutes of the session, this cumulates to the one hour of the session. Now in order to make sure the information from the session is imprinted in your mind, all you need to do is recall these trigger points every night before sleeping. This activity won’t go on for more than twenty minutes and will benefit your memory in the long run. 

While no student is expected to remember nonsense words like DAX, BOK, and YAT there are much more trying and harder concepts like friction, velocity and grammar that need to be conquered. Another way of making sure these don’t slip from one’s mind is by learning to understand. Mindless memorization comes with its own problems. If the question is presented in an application, blind memorization will fail you. For this reason, it is important to understand what you are studying. An easy way of doing this is practicing application based questions which will give a better idea of what the concept is. No matter how well versed you are in a concept, it is human nature for it to slip your mind. This is why revision and practice is very important. If you are not well versed in a particular concept , practice is much more crucial. 

The major takeaway from this is consistency and revision is key. Students tend to have to remember many things on a daily basis. This can create a lot of chaos in the study process. Which is why consistent practise and revision will gravely benefit them. The difficulty comes in staying consistent and making sure that the right revision is carried out.

This is where stellar platforms like QuizNext enter the picture. With QuizNext, your child will have a consistent and well-curated revision schedule that will be time-efficient and tailored to each and every user. Most E-Learning platforms focus on long hours of studies. QuizNext, on the other hand, focuses on consistency. Its AI-based remembering algorithm determines a student’s forgetting curve across various subjects and creates a study plan that helps kids to tackle the forgetting curve. With its Revise+ feature, you can rest assured that your child is getting the perfect practice and not succumbing to the forgetting curve. 

In conclusion, overcoming the forgetting curve is quite easy. All we need to do is have a constant revision schedule that is made efficient with trigger points and important topics.