The Leitner System: 5 Steps to Learn Anything

How often do you have to complain about your memory? How often do you need to memorize something that won’t stick? And how quickly you get tired of repeating it all so that you decide to do without this knowledge?

It is the situation faced by about 80% of people who learn, for example, a foreign language. And to help them has created the Leitner system. But later, it turned out that it is suitable for memorizing any other information. In this article, the term paper writing service will tell you in detail about this system of remembering information.

Leitner’s Magic Cards

The basis of Leitner’s system is so-called flashcards on which information is recorded for memorization. Cards can be conventional paper or electronic.

The paper version can be based on ordinary catalog cards, which can be seen in any traditional library with catalogs – alphabetical, systematic, topographic. Alternatively, you can cut out a card of a size that is convenient for you personally from thick paper or thin cardboard.

Do not throw away last year’s unclaimed pocket calendars if you have a good idea for offices and publishers. You can write on a light background with a black marker, and such cards will look more exciting and fun than the usual ones made of monochrome paper.

Electronic cards can be made in any mobile application to create notes or special software. For Russian-speaking users, we can recommend the mobile application Brainscape or the online program Quizlet, which also has versions for iOS and Android.

The principle of using paper and electronic cards is identical. The only difference is how you “shuffle the deck”: flipping through the screen or moving the cards from one pile to another.

How to Use the Cards

Each of us has noticed that even the most trivial “can’t do” has its gradations: not very good, not always good, not good. Suppose you use the traditional linear method of memorization. In that case, you have to go through all the material from beginning to end each time, whether it is a list of new words in English, a set of formulas in physics, or dates of historical events.

Leitner’s system allows you to avoid wasting time repeating material you’ve already learned, even if it goes along with something you haven’t yet studied. This system is convenient because you can focus only on what is not yet memorized in any way and adjust the frequency of repetitions as you learn. How Does It Work?

The algorithm for using flashcards:

  • Allocate all the material currently being studied to cards in the mode of 1 card = 1 unit of information.
  • Cards with information you can not remember, put in the first deck, and repeat every day.
  • Cards with information you remember in fragments, put in the second deck, and repeat every other day.
  • Cards with information that you sometimes forget or can’t always remember quickly are placed in the third deck and repeated every three days.
  • As you master the material, the cards from the first deck into the second and then into the third deck.

This approach is called the method of interval repetition, i.e., repetition at specific intervals that are optimal for achieving results. You don’t have to reread the whole deck at once. Read as much as you can while driving to work, standing in line, or stirring porridge over low heat. Such “useless five minutes” can be several during the day, and the total runs up to the same 45 minutes you need for an entire lesson.

Students, high school students, and adults can use the card area more economically and write 2-3 related pieces of information on one card at once. For example, three forms of a verb in English, two formulas from the section “Kinematics” to calculate the average speed of motion and the average rate in irregular motion, dates of the first, second and third partition of Poland in the 18th century. Of course, to transfer the card to the next deck, you must master all the words, formulas, and dates from the card.

When using electronic cards, you can get recommendations on how long it will take you to memorize this or that information and how often you need to repeat it. In particular, this feature is in the Brainscape app. You need to estimate your level of knowledge for each card from 1 to 5 at the start, and the application will give recommendations for further study of the material.

English, physics, and history we took only for example. The scope of the cards is much broader.

The scope of the Leitner system

We began by saying that Leitner initially developed this system for learning a foreign language. Sebastian Leitner was a journalist, so language skills were a professional necessity for him.

The language learning process was adapted to the circumstances, i.e., the high mobility of the journalist profession, when because of constant travels and business trips, it is not possible to set aside a fixed time for lessons.

A set of flashcards with new words, verb forms, pronouns, participles, gerunds can always be taken with you. A small group can easily fit in a man’s jacket pocket, and two or three stacks will not take up much space in the bag. By the way, you can buy ready-made cards for studying foreign languages.

Just the same with flashcards you can prepare for exams in any subject in school and college, a report on a seminar or a conference, memorize the location of notes and options for chords on the fingerboard of guitar, learn along with the song, dividing it into couplets, bridge, and chorus, and in particularly complex cases, transcribing the cards line by line.

Just cards can develop memory and wit, putting them on the short jokes, anecdotes, sayings on various occasions. If you regularly repeat jokes and stories that tend to be forgotten, your brain will instantly respond to the right situation, where you can shine your wit and produce actual humor.

Many people like this system so much that they are ready to replace the whole learning process. Is it worth it? Let’s think about it.

The Leitner system: in addition to or instead of?

Here we want to remember the well-known saying: everything is good in moderation. Of course, Leitner’s system cannot wholly replace lectures, seminars, and classes, if only because seminars and lectures offer teacher feedback.

Of course, Leitner’s system cannot replace a systematized approach in any specialty, be it first aid techniques or basic computer literacy. The cards are only media for units of information. You can only fully master knowledge when you receive a systematized course of lectures in the correct sequence and learn to apply the information in practice.

For the same reason, the system cannot become an alternative to secondary or higher education, even if all formulas and dates for all subjects are transferred to the cards. However, Leitner’s system can significantly supplement traditional teaching methods, facilitate learning, and save time studying the material.

As mentioned above, using flashcards does not require a fixed time in your daily routine at all, and you can fill any empty stretch of the day with cards when nothing more important or exciting is coming up.

The advantages of the Leitner system:

  • Simplicity and accessibility.
  • Ability to implement in paper or the electronic format of your choice.
  • The ability to be used anywhere and everywhere.
  • Applicability to different fields of knowledge.
  • Test-readability in any subject.
  • Adaptability to remember any information broken down into short logical units.
  • Development of memory – operational, medium-term, and long-term.


If that time gap not filled with valuable things is too long, you can repeat the information from all three decks and then go around in a circle, returning to the first stack. It will be highly beneficial to you and will be an excellent test of the functionality of your short-term memory. You will be able to see for yourself at what rate you remember or forget information and, perhaps, correct methods of self-education in the future. Now let’s summarize all the benefits of the system.


Elissa Smart is an omnipotent demiurge behind PaperHelp’s blog. Driven by seething creativity, not only she helps students with particular research and writing requests, but also finds the energy to share her extensive expertise via blog posts.


Back to top button