Bad Memory – then you need to understand the Forgetting Curve

Mar 7, 2022 | Blog

Memory is something that fascinates me.  I wonder if you also feel like your brain is full and to add another topic to remember means that old memories are lost.  Our memory is best at remembering events with a high emotional load, in an effort to keep us safe for the future.  We remember the birth of children, marriages, losing family members or friends.   Yet I ask students the next day what appeared on their exam and they have already forgotten.  This means we can forget useful information and this is where the forgetting curve becomes relevant.

What is the forgetting curve?

German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus tested his memory over various periods of time. Once he’d gathered all the data, he plotted it on a graph that looked a little something like this:

What Ebbinghaus had discovered is the fact that we lose memory over time.  The graph shows that when you first learn something, the information disappears quickly, most of it in the first couple of days, after which the rate of loss slows.

In a training context, the Forgetting Curve shows that you will forget an average of 90% of what you have learned within the first month.  So how do we combat this?

  1. Micro-learning to reinforce content, watching different videos, and completing the exercises helps strengthen the memory (the good news is that we have set up our training system to do this for you!)
  2. Remove jargon – make sure you break the information down into common sense (see our 3 tips here)
  3. Make it interactive, engage in the quizzes and assignments to get detailed feedback

We recommend studying with a study centre who has actively designed their material to combat the forgetting curve as this could be the difference between a pass and a fail!