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I read a lot of advanced math and computational science literature which requires the reader to be pretty involved most of the time. I usually read and simultaneously take notes, solve and comment in margins. However, when should I wait and review what I just read?

Is there some literature on this? I remember reading something about reviewing all that you read every 5 pages or something.

If I wait too long to review, after a certain point, I forget what I am doing and why I am doing it. The process becomes mechanical and I lose my intuition.

If I review too often, its boring because there is no thrill of learning.

If it is relevant, I practice Pomodoro and I keep the first minute to review the page which I was on.

Note: I am looking for literature (or at least well founded anecdotal evidence) on this. Not "do it when you feel you are forgetting" subjective answers.

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is a well-researched problem and there is plenty of literature out there on it. The solution is called spaced repetition. The premise here is that you should revise your material at the point just before you are about to forget it and there are well established 'forgetting curves' that you can apply. If you are revising long before the forgetting point, you are going over material that you already know well, and if you revise after you have forgotten you need to re-learn everything again.

There are many software solutions that will manage when you should be revising your material. The typical methodology is that you format your notes into short question / answer nuggets and input these into the system. The software will then ask you a question and it is up to you to recall the answer. The software then shows you the answer and based on how well you recalled it will schedule that question for a future time.

Personally I use Project Memoryze as it is web based and supports latex, but the real leader in spaced repetition research is Super Memo There are a number of interesting articles on there about learning techniques, and they make software to manage your spaced repetition as well – although it isn't free.

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Care to share some research and or literature links? Good call on the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashcard learning. –  Huibert Gill Mar 13 '12 at 13:38
    
Anki is an anternative to Supermemo. It is an open source solution. –  user2757 Mar 14 '12 at 16:29
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The first review should happen within 2 days. A second review should happen within 7 days of the first review. A third review should happen within 30 days of the second review. That is usually enough to engrain material for a long period of time.

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