The Magic of Intelligent Repetition

More than 25 years ago I took up a job in the US and moved to Salt Lake City in the state of Utah. My work was in software development, and pretty soon I noticed something very strange in the office.

Most of my work involved typing away on a computer keyboard, which I did with just the two index fingers of my hands. I could type quite fast, or so I thought until I saw Americans all around me typing with all ten fingers at a really rapid pace! It was mesmerising. People didn't even need to look at their keyboards while typing! It was as if their fingers knew where each letter on the keyboard was, and magically went to the right letter, in the right order, at a remarkable pace.

I asked a friend how she could type in that fashion and she told me that they learnt it as kids in school. Most of them learnt the "right" way to type. She showed me how it was done, and pointed me to a few exercises to learn how to do it myself.

I bought a desktop computer the next day and got to work. I would practice for at least two hours at home every evening, but when I went to work the next day, I would go back to using two fingers due to the pressure of work. So I didn't make much progress! Finally I forced myself to use the technique at work, and within a month I was typing at double my earlier speed!

I think we all know how I was able to do it. It was through practice which involved intelligent repetition. I learnt at home and immediately applied it in the office the next day. Whenever I had trouble with a letter, or a sequence of letters, I would remember to practice that weakness at home, and like magic, I would get better at it, improving my performance. However I did not get much better initially when my practice did not include regular application.

So what does this have to do with studies?

In my experience, most children study by reading and re-reading their books, highlighting text, and reading their class notes. This is like learning which finger to use for which letter when typing. It gives us temporary knowledge, but not the skill or ability to apply it when required. That ability is developed through the practice of regular retrieval of information from the brain. On demand. Every day.

So how do we do this without having to take practice tests every day? Research has shown that the most effective method is the use of flashcards which automatically enforce continuous self testing. Puzzles, crosswords and quizzes are other methods that can complement the use of flashcards for this purpose. However all of the content must be intelligently designed to enable this to happen.

This is exactly what we have been doing at Cerebroid Education over the last 3 years. We have built the FlashCardz platform that helps children get better through a combination of digital flashcards, engaging crosswords and challenging quizzes. Our team is continuously looking at new methods of self-testing.

Students acquire knowledge and understanding from their teachers at school and coaching institutes, and then practice on-demand retrieval through the FlashCardz platform. Hundreds of our students have found that it works like magic. Just like typing super-fast with intelligent practice.

Try it, and you will find yourself performing better in tests and exams, and becoming more confident about tackling your next board exam!


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