Title: Using Spaced Repetition and Active Recall to Hack Your Brain Authors: Category:#supplementals Number of Highlights: 9 Date: 2022-11-15 Last Highlighted: 2022-11-15


How many times have you read a great book that had the potential to change your life, but you ended up doing nothing different? The problem is that we forget too much. To solve this problem, we developed Mastery.

Mastery is our label for the one-two punch of spaced repetition and active recall applied to your highlights. Used together, you’ll retain substantially more of what you read with significantly less effort. Here’s how to get started.

The first principle of Mastery is called “active recall.” Active recall is when we challenge our minds to retrieve a certain piece of information rather than passively reviewing the same.

Cognitive science has repeatedly demonstrated that active recall significantly strengthens memory compared to passive review.

For example, simply reading the fact: “Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492” would be passive.

Filling in the following blank would be active: “Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.”

See what we did there? All we had to do was hide one of the words in your passage in order to elevate your review from passive to active!

This fill-in-the-blank is the first form of active recall embedded into Readwise. It’s called cloze deletion and is great for everyday use.

Creating question & answer pairs and then quizzing yourself on them is the most powerful form of active recall, but can be a lot of effort. That’s why we offer both Q&A and cloze deletion.

Now, let’s try converting a passive highlight to active recall using cloze deletion.

First, click the Master button below (or use the keyboard shortcut: m).

Then, highlight (or tap) the word “master”, then hit Save.

That’s it! You now know how to apply active recall to any highlight you wish to seriously master. Now let’s talk about the second principle of Mastery: spaced repetition.

Spaced repetition is a technique for spacing out when you review material. It uses your feedback to show you information at the optimal time for retention, minimizing how long you spend reviewing.

These buttons inform our spaced repetition when to show you this information next. Really important (or hard to remember) cards sooner. Not so important (or easy) cards later.

Now you know how to hack your brain using active recall and spaced repetition in Readwise.

A final word: Even though Mastery looks like flashcards, it’s not about memorization. It’s about reprogramming your mind to spot patterns, form connections, and resurface to you the right idea at the right time.

You can read more about this reprogramming idea here.