Imagine yourself peacefully studying in your room. You may be studying with a friend (while staying safe, of course). The afternoon sun shines through the window, but you are completely absorbed in your work.
There’s music playing. You nod along with the low bass lines. The synth samples, acoustic samplings, and the occasional voices in the background combine to create a chill atmosphere. The groove carries your study session through the late afternoon and early evening.
Essentially, you are one of the two people in the animation that accompanies Quizlet’s house study mix for concentration and focus. And, if you learn how to harness the interleaving study strategy, you can also be a person who never blanks during exams.
The interleaving study strategy is like house music.
This strategy actually resembles the structure of house music. The elements of a house track are repetitious, but layered differently as the track goes on.
Interleaving also uses layering to present the same elements in different ways. This strategy involves mixing, or interleaving, different concepts or subjects as you study. You repeat the same course material, but in several variations.
Interleaving vs. block studying
Students usually study different concepts or subjects in separate blocks of time. They often spend large chunks of time on one thing. This is known as “block studying.” In contrast, interleaving arguably helps you retain more information in a shorter span of time.
For example, imagine that you and a friend are studying for a calculus final together. Your friend uses the block studying method. They study each topic in order, repeating problems from the first unit until they can do that type of problem in their sleep. Then they move on to the second unit, which builds upon the first.
You’re using the interleaving study method, so you study topics out of order. You spend a short, intense period of time on one concept, then switch to another concept that’s not necessarily related to the previous one. You repeat the same type of problem, but not in order. You may do a problem from the first unit of your curriculum, then the fourth, then the sixth, then cycle back and do another problem from that first unit.
When you test each other, which is a form of active studying, you do better than your friend at recalling the correct strategy to use when solving a given problem. This is because interleaving forces your brain to continually retrieve information while studying. You can’t rely on your short term memory to solve the problem in front of you, because you used a different solution strategy for the last one.
In this imaginary scenario, you and your friend have done the same number of problems. In one block of time, your friend spent a lot of time doing the same kind of problem. They didn’t have to consider what kind of solution strategy they needed, because they knew exactly which unit they were working on and what that unit focused on.
But you jumped around, rather than solving the same type of problem over and over again. Every time you cycled back to a specific type of problem, you had to actively remember what kind of problem it was and how to solve that kind of problem.
It’s hard at first, but it’s worth it. It’s especially worth it in a class like calculus, where problems have similar ideas and wording but vastly different solutions.
How to use interleaving in practice
Interleaving is most beneficial when topics or subjects are related in some way. You can mix up course material in one subject. Or, you can alternate studying similar subjects, such as those in the humanities.
Quizlet study sets can help you with interleaving studying. You have the option to shuffle your flashcard study sets, so you’ll encounter concepts in a random order. You can also use test mode to actively test your knowledge in a range of topics.
Interleaving goes best with house music.
If you like chill background music to relax you, with a little variation to stimulate your brain, try Quizlet’s study house mix as the soundtrack to your revolutionary new study strategy.
If you’re looking for something a little more calming, like classical music or nature sounds, you’ll find it on Quizlet’s YouTube channel.