Reading, Learning and the Forgetting Curve

A few days ago, I shared with some friends the titles of some books I’ve got lying around, which I’m hoping to finish “devouring” soon. And just like at other times when I’ve talked about reading or learning, I found myself asking the question:

How much of the new things we are currently learning, do we remember long enough to apply?

Reading is good. Learning is great. But both are useless if we can’t apply what we learn for the simple reason that we forgot all about what we’d learnt. Research (on The Forgetting Curve) shows that within an hour people forget about 50% of the information they’ve learnt/been taught. Within 24hours, they’ve forgotten about 70% and within a week, they’ve forgotten 90% 🤕


-> Read with a purpose: When you’re looking for answers you pay more attention and as such are more likely to recall what you learnt in the process.

-> Skim read: Before you read, take a few minutes to quickly look through the entire piece just to get the essence of the reading material without reading the entire thing. This gives your brain a first sight of the material, so when you do read, it’s the second time the key points are being registered in your brain, and as such that repeated exposure to the same information is likely to increase the likelihood that you’ll remember.

-> Read (the entire piece or whatever portions you choose) actively: Active reading requires that you – take notes, highlight new ideas or key points, think about what you’re reading (Do you agree? Is there a word there you need to check up in the dictionary? Do you need to do your own research to confirm if what the author says is really true?)

-> Pause from time to time to create a mental picture of what you’ve read so far: Our brains recall pictures better than it does words.

-> Offer to share with or teach someone what you’ve learnt.

-> Review. Review. Review: Flip through the book a day after, a week after, a month after and go over your notes and highlighted portions.

I’m positive these tips will help you recall more of what you read. However, if you’ve got any more tips, please share in the comments. Merci Beaucoup.

Cheers to your success!



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