Drill Repetition Frequency and the Leitner System

Kira Resari
Asked 3 years ago


I've long since had the suspicion that the drills are repeated at a too-high frequency, and are mastered to quickly, which not only causes a daily flood of a hundred or more drills if you progress at a steady rate of a lesson a day, but also decreases the chances that drills are stil remembered in the long run.

To verify this, I've picked out a random easy drill which I felt I would be able to master without any fallbacks and tracked its appearance in my daily drills until it was mastered with the following results:

The first repitition came after 1 day.

The second repitition came 2 days later, after 3 days total.

The third repitition came 3 days later, after 6 days total.

The last repitition came 6 days after 12 days total.

So, the current system as it is assumes that if you still know a drill a week after its last repitition, you have it mastered. That would be really convenient if it were true, but I'm afraid it does not quite hold up to my personal experience.

So allow me to suggest an alternate spacing. This one is based on the scientifically funded Leitner system which dates back to the 1970s:

The first repitition comes after 1 day.

The second repitition comes 3 days later, after 4 days total.

The third repitition comes 7 days later, after 11 days total.

The last repitition comes 30 days after 41 days total.

Not only does this ensure that "mastered" drills are really mastered, but it also drastically reduces the workload from drills by spreading out the same amount of drills over a longer period of time, reducing the amount of simultaneous drills to about 30% of what it is now.

What are everyone's thoughts about this? Is this also something that bothers you? Would you support the proposed solution? Do you have other ideas of how we could resolve this?

Let me know what you think!

Agreed! I upped my mastery level when I was at 2000 drills as I had a suspicion that I wasn't retaining early info. This gave me a massive backlog and as I've worked through it I've noticed that I definitely haven't got some very early stuff memorised. I'm paying for this package and I'm not even properly memorising things unless I've also been exposed to them in my other learning sources. Wanikani has a much better spacing with their reviews.

Commented 3 years ago

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2 Answers


Intervals between repetions in your sequence rise too fast. I have drill mastery set at 7-9 repetions, would i wait 1 year for drill to repeat?

On the other note, in the long run, you will have the same average amount of drills per day, doesnt matter what intervals you choose.

Answered 3 years ago



I agree with this, I think there should be more time between repetitions. I think this might have changed with the last update, it's hard to tell since the screen where you could see your upcoming drills is gone. But I used to master an average of 3-5 drills a week on the previous system and these days it's gone to 20-30 a day, makes me wonder whether I will actually be able to remember all of these in the long term. Of course this could be solved by increasing the number of repetitions until the drill is mastered even further, but then you just end up with a ridiculous amount of drills to do per day so it doesn't really help the problem.

Answered 3 years ago