[sci·ence · /ˈsʌɪəns] noun

the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment

Have you ever noticed how some students just seem smarter than others?  They always get it, they ace every exam…they must just be smarter, right? It may surprise you, but this “smartness” can be obtained by any student.

In the last few decades, extensive research has been conducted to understand how the human brain works, and how we learn. Cognitive scientists specialising in this research determined that higher achievers possess more knowledge* than others. But what does this mean? To see this, let’s try an exercise. Give yourself 5 seconds, and try to memorise all of these letters:


It’s not easy!

However, try it again – same letters, same order, 5 seconds to memorise them, but they look like this now:


Hopefully, you found the second set of letters much easier to memorise than the first set of letters! That’s because, chances are, you’ve heard of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), ITV (Independent Television Channel), the USA (United States of America), and so on. Your knowledge makes this impossible task suddenly very easy.

This is because knowledge is sticky.  When you try to learn something new, if you already know something about it, you’re more likely to succeed.  If you don’t already know something about it, and someone chucks loads of new knowledge at you, not much will stick.  Many students know all too well what this feels like: the class moves on to the next thing you don’t understand, while you’re still wondering why you didn’t get the last thing.

Our Up Learn videos contain a wide range of relatable examples that ensure that what you learn ‘sticks’ in your head. And, once you know a lot, you learn even faster. By learning more, scientific studies have shown you (and anyone else) can become the class genius**.

This is just one of the many learning secrets from cognitive science that we deploy in every one of our courses.  We created Up Learn using this science to offer a world-beating learning experience, so that nothing can stand between you and your success.

By combining the best teachers, the latest learning research, AI-powered adaptive technology and world-class exam prep material, we’ve made courses so effective that we guarantee any student an A*/A or their money back if they complete an Up Learn course, no matter their background or starting point. With Up Learn, any student can secure the best grades.  It’s like being handed the cheat codes to intelligence.

In this research summary, we’ll take a look at the ideas that inform our approach. We’ll look at what our intuitions tell us about them, and we’ll explain why our intuitions are often wrong. Finally, we’ll explain how these ideas set us apart from our competitors and help us deliver the world’s most effective learning experience.

*Our understanding of the role of long-term memory in human cognition has altered dramatically over the last few decades. It is no longer seen as a passive repository of discrete, isolated fragments of information that permit us to repeat what we have learned. Nor is it seen only as a component of human cognitive architecture that has merely peripheral influence on complex cognitive processes such as thinking and problem solving.  Rather, long-term memory is now viewed as the central, dominant structure of human cognition.  Everything we see, hear, and think about is critically dependent on and influenced by our long-term memory

**See Kirschner, P.A., Sweller, J. & Clark, R.E. (2006) Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching and Dweck, C.S. [2017] Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential

Core Concepts

Desirable Difficulty

Many people think the most efficient learning techniques should feel quick and easy, not long and difficult. However, this isn’t actually the case – when learning is harder and more effortful, it’s more effective and efficient. This is because if something is hard to master, we have a higher chance of remembering it. At Up Learn, we use learning methods that require a little bit more effort up front. However, this initial effort saves time in the long run, enabling our students to be more likely to understand a topic and remember the details.

Faster learning techniques appear on the surface to be more efficient, but we’ve conducted our own studies to identify the most effective approaches. Methods such as elaborative encoding took twice as long, but students were able to accurately recall over 95% of the material they studied (compared to 15% with faster methods like just making notes).
From day one we encourage students to link difficult study to effective learning. Desirable difficulty is a key part of many of the techniques we
use at Up Learn.

  1. Bjork, E.L., Bjork, R., Roediger, H.L., B, K., Mcdermott, M.A. and Mcdaniel (2010) ‘Making things hard on yourself, but in a good way: Creating desirable difficulties to enhance learning using testing to improve learning and memory’,
  2. Brown, P.C., Roediger, H.L. and McDaniel, M.A. (2014) Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  3. Think101 (2014) Episode 5 − learning to learn: Desirable difficulties.

Growth Mindset

The belief that talented mathematicians or linguists are born with a natural gift is a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is the idea that ability isn’t set in stone, and develops through hard work and practice. It’s true that some people are naturally better at different activities than others (learning an instrument, playing sports). However, natural talent has almost no impact on our learning compared to putting lots of time and effort into mastering something.

A growth mindset looks at mistakes as opportunities to improve rather than failures. At Up Learn we set regular tests so that students become more comfortable making mistakes, and then work with them to master their weaker topics. This approach takes the negativity out of learning, and in academic study, all that effort also leads to top grades.

  1. Mangels, J.A. (2006) ‘Why do beliefs about intelligence influence learning success? A social cognitive neuroscience model’, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 1(2), pp. 75–86. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsl013.
  2. Harvard (2015) The right mindset for success. Available at: (Accessed: 26 May 2016).
  3. Dweck, C. (2016) Carol Dweck revisits the ‘growth mindset’ Available at:
  4. TED (2014) Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve. Available at:
  5. Nussbaum, A.D. and Dweck, C.S. (2008) ‘Defensiveness versus remediation: Self-theories and modes of self-esteem maintenance’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(5), pp. 599–612.

Learning Formats

Education specialists used to think that each person has their own unique learning style (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic). Studies have found that individual learning styles do not exist, although we do learn effectively when we’re taught in the right format.

We’re more likely to remember how to assemble a wardrobe if we’ve assembled one before, rather than just read the instructions. Similarly, we’d draw a much better picture of the Eiffel Tower if we’ve seen a picture of it, rather than have someone tell us what it looks like.

In Up Learn courses, we focus on matching what we’re teaching to a format that will help students learn effectively. We’ll explain a physics concept through an animation, but focus on written mathematics when solving a physics problem.

  1. Brown, P.C., Roediger, H.L. and McDaniel, M.A. (2014) Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  2. Cook, D.A., Thompson, W.G., Thomas, K.G. and Thomas, M.R. (2007) ‘Lack of interaction between sensing–intuitive learning styles and problem-first versus information-first instruction: A randomized crossover trial’, Advances in Health Sciences Education, 14(1), pp. 79–90. doi: 10.1007/s10459-007-9089-8.
  3. Massa, L.J. and Mayer, R.E. (2006) ‘Testing the ATI hypothesis: Should multimedia instruction accommodate verbalizer-visualizer cognitive style?’, Learning and Individual Differences, 16(4), pp. 321–335. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2006.10.001.
  4. Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D. and Bjork, R. (2009) ‘Learning styles: Concepts and evidence’, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), pp. 105–119. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x.


Gamification uses things like point scoring, competitions or rewards in a product or service. It’s used to make things more interesting, and leave us wanting more.

Intuition tells us that learning is boring, and can’t be gamified. But gamification works really well to turn something not fun, like study, into something we’ll enjoy and do again. It’s a cliché, but learning can be fun, and it’s good for our grades if we can form a learning habit.

We use elements of gamification in Up Learn such as point scoring, progress bars and rewards.

  1. B.F. 8 (2015) BJ Fogg’s behavior model. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2016).Buckley, P. and Doyle, E. (2014) ‘Gamification and student motivation’, Interactive Learning Environments, , pp. 1–14. doi: 10.1080/10494820.2014.964263.
  2. Eyal, N. (2014) Hooked: How to build habit-forming products. United Kingdom: Portfolio Penguin.
  3. Raymer, R. (2011) ‘Gamification: Using game mechanics to enhance eLearning’, eLearn, 2011(9), p. 3. doi: 10.1145/2025356.2031772.

Reflection and Calibration

Reflection and calibration involve reviewing our learning strategies and assessing our own performance. When studying, it feels more effective to spend all of our time on learning the material, but it’s vital to spend time considering if we’re actually learning as much as we could be. Stopping to reflect reduces the risk of wasting time on the wrong topics or using learning techniques that don’t work.

Reflection makes us step back and take a look at the bigger picture, so it’s easier to see if we’ve gone down the wrong path. Calibration is a way of accurately assessing what level we’re working at, and identifying the areas we need to work on.

Up Learn students are set XP goals and their progress is recorded on a chart they can view any time. They’re regularly assessed on each topic, so they can see what level they’re working at. Students also mark their own practice exams, so they can assess their own learning.

  1. Association, A.P. (2003) Why we overestimate our competence. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2016).
  2. Dunning, D., Johnson, K., Ehrlinger, J. and Kruger, J. (2003) ‘Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(3), pp. 83–87. doi: 10.1111/1467-8721.01235.
  3. Morris, E. (2010) The Anosognosic’s dilemma: Something’s wrong but you’ll never know what it is (part 1). Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2016).
  4. UMBCtube (2009) Confessions of a converted lecturer: Eric Mazur. Available at:
  5. Bjork, R.A., Dunlosky, J. and Kornell, N. (2013) ‘Self-regulated learning: Beliefs, techniques, and illusions’, Annual Review of Psychology, 64(1), pp. 417–444

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle is also known as the 80/20 rule. It’s the idea that 20% effort produces 80% of an effect. We’re taught that hard work beats everything else, but most of us have witnessed classmates barely study and still come out with a top exam result. 

This isn’t just luck. The Pareto principle focuses on working in an effective way, rather than working for a long time. While all study requires time and effort, effective learning methods supercharge the process. If we’re learning well we’re faster at taking on information, and we also don’t have to revisit topics again and again.

At Up Learn, students work smart, and then work hard. We make sure that our students receive the maximum effect for the amount of effort that they put in. We don’t waste time with repetitive exercises on topics our students have already mastered.

We focus on core academic concepts in our lessons and use our algorithm to identify weak spots. This system allows students to quickly master their subjects, build a genuine love of learning, and achieve high exam scores.

  1. FightMediocrity (2014) How To Be Productive– The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch Animated Book Review Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2016).
  2. Koch, R. (1997) ‘The 80/20 principle: The secret of achieving more with less’, Long Range Planning, 30(6), p. 956. doi: 10.1016/s0024-6301(97)80978-8.
  3. Koch, R. (2004) Living the 80/20 way: Work less, worry less, succeed more, enjoy more. London: Brealey, Nicholas Publishing.
  4. Vsauce (2015) The Zipf mystery. Available at: (Accessed: 29 May 2016).
  5. Clauset, A., Shalizi, C.R. and Newman, M.E.J. (2009) ‘Power-law distributions in empirical data’, SIAM Review, 51(4), pp. 661–703.

The Science We Use

Elaborative Encoding and Visceralisation

Elaborative encoding involves memorising a new piece of information by linking it to something else. People often do this when meeting new people (‘Jack, who is Ben’s friend’ or ‘Jack, who is from Toronto and has long hair’). Visceralisation does the same thing but with emotions or senses, like when a certain smell reminds you of a childhood memory.

When studying, we’re often keen to get through the material as quickly as possible by just highlighting and note-taking as we read. Although elaborative encoding and visceralisation take longer, they’re much more effective techniques. This saves time in the long run. When we link new information to our existing knowledge or experience it becomes more memorable. The more effort this requires, the more likely we are to retain the information.

The change of speed and direction of light as it passes from one medium into a medium of higher or lower density.
Refraction of light

A student could use elaborative encoding by linking it to a memory, like riding a quad bike as a child. Imagining the ray of light as themselves driving from the smooth tarmac into dense mud, the bike would ‘refract’ by changing speed and direction. By taking the time and effort to link the definition to a memory it would then became much easier to recall in their exam.

All Up Learn students learn how to visceralise. Through memorisation exercises, students link strong memories and senses to facts and concepts.

  1. Arnoux, P. and Finkel, A. (2010) ‘Using mental imagery processes for teaching and research in mathematics and computer science’, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 41(2), pp. 229–242. doi: 10.1080/00207390903372429.
  2. Bradshaw, G.L. and Anderson, J.R. (1982) ‘Elaborative encoding as an explanation of levels of processing’, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 21(2), pp. 165–174. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5371(82)90531-x.
  3. Coane, J.H. (2013) ‘Retrieval practice and elaborative encoding benefit memory in younger and older adults’, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(2), pp. 95–100. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.04.001.

Dispelling Misconceptions

A misconception is an incorrect idea or piece of information that we’ve stored in our heads. Someone dispels a misconception when they give us the right information, and replace our old, wrong idea. When someone presents us with incorrect information, we tend to dive straight into explaining the correct information, thinking it will overwrite the error. 

But to replace the old information, we have to realise we had it wrong in the first place. Let’s look at the science behind it:

A scientific study assembled group of physics students and showed them different amounts of multimedia content.

  • Group one received basic content about Newton’s laws of motion.
  • Group two received the basic content plus additional information on the topic.
  • Group three received all of this plus extra ‘refutation’ content. It highlighted (and corrected) common wrong answers on the topic.
  • Group four received all of this content, plus a discussion with their tutor about common wrong answers.

Each group then took the same test on the material. The students in group three and four performed the best, showing how effective it can be to dispel misconceptions while we’re learning.

At Up Learn, we deliberately address the wrong answers in our lessons so we can rewrite them. We even create questions and exam how-tos that lead students to the wrong answers. We use the same tricks as exam papers to catch misconceptions so students can confidently recall the right information on exam day.

  1. Muller, D.A., Bewes, J., Sharma, M.D. and Reimann, P. (2007) ‘Saying the wrong thing: Improving learning with multimedia by including misconceptions’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(2), pp. 144–155. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2007.00248.x.
  2. Limón, M. (2001) ‘On the cognitive conflict as an instructional strategy for conceptual change: A critical appraisal’, Learning and Instruction, 11(4-5), pp. 357–380. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4752(00)00037-2.
  3. Prosser, M. and Millar, R. (1989) ‘The “How” and “What” of learning physics’, European Journal of Psychology of Education, 4(4), pp. 513–528

Retrieval Practice

Learning something new is the easy bit, what’s harder is remembering it later. Retrieval practice is the process of testing ourselves to remember something we’ve learned.

Taking notes and highlighting makes us feel like we’re absorbing lots of information. What we’re actually doing is storing the information in our short-term memories. If the exam we’re studying for is over a week away, we’ll have forgotten most of it.

Testing ourselves to retrieve information after we’ve learned it takes effort, and that effort triggers our long-term memory. Even if we don’t get the answer right, searching for the information helps us to retain it.

Retrieval practice is at the core of Up Learn’s system. We test students on their knowledge throughout their lessons. Our adaptive learning system sends forgotten material back into their learning schedule. They are then given the information and tested on it again. Even if they remember it the first time around, we’ll test them again over time to make sure it’s in there for the long term.

Roediger, H.L. and Karpicke, J.D. (2006)
  1. Brown, P.C., Roediger, H.L. and McDaniel, M.A. (2014) Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  2. Coane, J.H. (2013) ‘Retrieval practice and elaborative encoding benefit memory in younger and older adults’, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(2), pp. 95–100. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.04.001.
  3. Karpicke, J.D. and Roediger, H.L. (2008) ‘The critical importance of retrieval for learning’, Science, 319(5865), pp. 966–968. doi: 10.1126/science.1152408.
  4. Roediger, Henry L. and Karpicke, Jeffrey D. (2006) ‘The power of testing memory’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(3), pp. 181–210. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2006.00012.x.

Interleaved Learning

Focusing on one task or topic makes us feel like we’re mastering it. When studying maths, we’re more likely to focus on one topic (e.g. calculus) before moving something else (e.g. geometry). Even textbooks present information this way. Interleaved Learning is the process of mixing topics that are somehow related, as this allows students to draw out relationships and connections between the topics. An example of this is the A BBC ITV USA FBI CIA Z example at the top of this page where we have interleaved the letters with a series of acronyms that you might be familiar with.

At first it can feel uncomfortable to introduce a new problem before we’ve solved the old one. But it’s proven that we are more able to retain information if we interleave learning by mixing different tasks or topics together during study.

Up Learn schedules tests, quizzes and exam practice sessions for students that combine multiple topics (just like an exam paper).

  1. Birnbaum, M.S., Kornell, N., Bjork, E.L. and Bjork, R.A. (2012) ‘Why interleaving enhances inductive learning: The roles of discrimination and retrieval’, Memory & Cognition, 41(3), pp. 392–402. doi: 10.3758/s13421-012-0272-7.
  2. Moulton, C.-A.E., Dubrowski, A., MacRae, H., Graham, B., Grober, E. and Reznick, R. (2006) ‘Teaching surgical skills: What kind of practice makes perfect?’, Transactions of the … Meeting of the American Surgical Association, 124, pp. 66–75. doi: 10.1097/01.sla.0000234808.85789.6a.
  3. Rohrer, D. and Taylor, K. (2007) ‘The shuffling of mathematics problems improves learning’, Instructional Science, 35(6), pp. 481–498. doi: 10.1007/s11251-007-9015-8.

Contextualised Learning

Contextualised learning starts by answering the age-old question: Why am I learning this?

Before we learn something new, we begin by finding out how it fits into our everyday life, and why it might be useful to us. Then we move on to find out how we’re going to learn about it, and finally, what the concept actually is.

Most students don’t focus on context at all, and skip to learning what the new information or topic is. But tapping into our curiosity and motivation to learn primes us for the new information.

When introducing a topic, we always make sure our students know why they’re learning it. Contextualised learning creates eagerness to learn, a trait that is not only useful for academic study, but also the world beyond it.

  1. TEDx Talks (2013) Inverting the curriculum: Ariel Diaz at TEDxCambridge 2013. Available at: .
  2. Trigwell, K. and Prosser, M. (1991) ‘Improving the quality of student learning: The influence of learning context and student approaches to learning on learning outcomes’, Higher Education, 22(3), pp. 251–266. doi: 10.1007/bf00132290.
  3. Lave, J. (1988) Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics, and culture in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Dougherty, M.J. (2009) ‘Closing the gap: Inverting the genetics curriculum to ensure an informed public’, The American Journal of Human Genetics, 85(1), pp. 6–12.


Generation is trying to solve a problem or answer a question that is completely new to us.

If we come across a question or problem that we’ve not seen before, it’s tempting to just look up the answer. While this solves the problem in the short term, we’re unlikely to remember the answer if it crops up again in the future. 

Generation forces us to look for a solution before we are sure of the answer. Trying to solve a problem makes the outcome far more memorable, even if we don’t get it right the first time. This is the reason why the best tutors ask students lots of questions during lessons.

Our interactive video lessons often ask questions about a new topic while students are learning it. By solving problems without the full answers ready to hand, students are engaging with the material on a deeper level. They’re also always given full explanation later.

  1. Bjork, E.L. and Storm, B.C. (2011) ‘Retrieval experience as a modifier of future encoding: Another test effect’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37(5), pp. 1113–1124. doi: 10.1037/a0023549.
  2. Jacoby, L.L. (1978) ‘On interpreting the effects of repetition: Solving a problem versus remembering a solution’, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 17(6), pp. 649–667. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5371(78)90393-6.
  3. Metcalfe, J. and Kornell, N. (2007) ‘Principles of cognitive science in education: The effects of generation, errors, and feedback’, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14(2), pp. 225–229. doi: 10.3758/bf03194056.
  4. Reynolds, R.E. and Anderson, R.C. (1982) ‘Influence of questions on the allocation of attention during reading’, Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(5), pp. 623–632. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.74.5.623.

Cognitive Load

Cognitive load refers to the amount of mental effort our working memory uses. The more we have in our working memory, the harder it becomes to take on new information or solve a problem.

Most learning resources add extra information to make them more engaging to read. There’ll often be a mini biography on the life of the scientist whose equation you are studying, or a joke. When we’re trying to learn, these extras can have a negative impact by adding to our cognitive load.

At Up Learn we focus on core concepts and skip the extra stuff. We break down topics and introduce them piece by piece, avoiding any unnecessary information. Our animations keep the content engaging, and we review each lesson we produce so it’s interesting, but not too distracting.

  1. Kirschner, P.A. (2002) ‘Cognitive load theory: Implications of cognitive load theory on the design of learning’, Learning and Instruction, 12(1), pp. 1–10. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4752(01)00014-7.
  2. van Merriënboer, J.J.G. and Sweller, J. (2005) ‘Cognitive load theory and complex learning: Recent developments and future directions’, Educational Psychology Review, 17(2), pp. 147–177. doi: 10.1007/s10648-005-3951-0.
  3. Muller, D.A. (2008) Designing effective multimedia for physics education. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2016).
  4. Sweller, J. (1988) ‘Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning’, Cognitive Science, 12(2), pp. 257–285. doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog1202_4.

Mastery Learning

Mastery learning is a style of teaching established in the 1960s. It requires students to achieve at least 90% on a topic test before they can move on to the next concept.

Each student takes a different amount of time to master a topic. Mastery learning lets students to do this at their own pace, and makes sure no one gets left behind. This technique isn’t used a lot in the classroom because it takes time, which many teachers don’t have.

With Up Learn, students can spend as much time as they need to on each topic. With 24/7 on-demand tutoring available, they can also get help when they need it.

  1. Block, J.H. (1987) ‘Improving student achievement through mastery learning programs Daniel U. Levine’, American Journal of Education, 95(4), pp. 622–625. doi: 10.1086/444331.
  2. Block, J.H. and Burns, R.B. (1976) ‘1: Mastery learning’, Review of Research in Education, 4(1), pp. 3–49. doi: 10.3102/0091732×004001003.
  3. Bloom, B.S. (1968) ‘Learning for Mastery’, CSEIP, UCLA.
  4. Guskey, T.R. (1986) ‘Implementing mastery learning’, NASSP Bulletin, 70(490), pp. 125–126. doi: 10.1177/019263658607049033.

Corrective Feedback

Corrective feedback is being given answers after an assessment, or feedback on the performance of a task.

When taking practice exam papers, it’s tempting to check the mark scheme as soon as we’ve finished a question. But it has been shown that feedback has the best effect on learning from mistakes when it is given at the right time. For example, when you’re learning new material, it’s most effective to get frequent, instant feedback. When you’ve mastered the content and are preparing for an exam, it’s better to get used to this style of testing and receive all your answers/feedback at the end.

Up Learn’s courses give answers straight away when students are answering questions on new content. In our exam-style testing we give corrective feedback once the whole test is complete. Students take our exam practice sessions with a time limit, and it’s impossible to access the answers until they’ve finished the whole paper.

  1. Butler, A.C. and Roediger, H.L. (2008) ‘Feedback enhances the positive effects and reduces the negative effects of multiple-choice testing’, Memory & Cognition, 36(3), pp. 604–616. doi: 10.3758/mc.36.3.604.
  2. Kang, S.H.K., McDermott, K.B. and Roediger, H.L. (2007) ‘Test format and corrective feedback modify the effect of testing on long-term retention’, European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19(4-5), pp. 528–558. doi: 10.1080/09541440601056620.
  3. Salmoni, A.W., Schmidt, R.A. and Walter, C.B. (1984) ‘Knowledge of results and motor learning: A review and critical reappraisal’, Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), pp. 355–386. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.95.3.355.

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a technique we can use to test ourselves on the same material over and over again. This technique makes us leave time between each test to make sure it’s embedded in our long term memory.

Repeating the same information to ourselves (‘burning it in’ to our brains) feels like an effective way to memorise. And while this works in a short time frame, like the day before an exam, we will lose that information after a few days. That’s why it’s important to test ourselves again later when we’re likely to have forgotten things. This makes us put in more effort and leads to deeper learning.

When students complete an Up Learn section or topic, their final score changes over time. Even if they’ve scored 100%, our AI adjusts its assessment of students based on how likely they are to forget content. So, the more students revisit a topic or quiz, the higher their score stays as the information firmly sticks in their long term memory.

  1. Ausubel, D.P. and Youssef, M. (2010) ‘The effect of spaced repetition on meaningful retention’, The Journal of General Psychology, . doi: 10.1080/00221309.1965.9711263.
  2. Bird, C.P., Nicholson, A.J. and Ringer, S. (1978) ‘Resistance of the spacing effect to variations in Encoding’, The American Journal of Psychology, 91(4), p. 713. doi: 10.2307/1421519.
  3. Jacoby, L.L. (1978) ‘On interpreting the effects of repetition: Solving a problem versus remembering a solution’, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 17(6), pp. 649–667. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5371(78)90393-6.
  4. Woiniak, P.A. and Gorzelanczyk, E.J. (1993) Optimization of repetition spacing in the practice of learning. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2016).