Just to throw some anecdotal monkey wrench into the discussion…
I’ve found that, without question, the things I remember best over many years are the ones that I drilled extensively over several days, and never again afterward other than occasional recall by happenstance.
In 7th grade, I had to memorize the list of English prepositions. I repeated them extensively for three days, and I still remember the list almost 30yrs later. In 9th grade, I had to memorize the opening sonnet for Romeo and Juliet. Same method, and I still remember it word for word. Same for the Boy Scout law, oath, motto, and slogan.
The keys – at least for me – are attentive repetition, some form of rhythm, having a long enough piece of content that your brain processes it as a sequence rather than just a datapoint, and extensive repetition over several days (i.e. with sleep in between).
My main issue with WK’s review style – which I think can allow people to develop leeches – is that it doesn’t demand attentive repetition. They tell you to be attentive in the FAQ and/or user guide, but the reviews don’t have a way of encouraging or enforcing that. It has to be done voluntarily. When you miss one, if you don’t put attentive focus on it, your subliminal brain doesn’t recognize the information as important. And I suspect that attentive focus doesn’t come naturally to some people, so they need to be taught or guided to into it.
- Attention is a signal to the brain to trigger memorization.
- Sequences are one of the brain’s most powerful memorization mechanisms (due to the necessity of temporal pattern recognition).
- Having more than just a small datapoint (e.g. a standalone vocab word) allows ‘sequence’ to become useful in data recovery when you lose (i.e. forget) part of the sequence. This is the principal behind Viterbi encoding in computer science.
- Repetition with sleep in between allows the brain to encode-then-[refine/reinforce].