If your teacher gives you a choice, sit down, read a textbook for 75 minutes continuously, or 25 minutes in three sessions. What would you choose? Of course, 25 minutes in three sessions. Seventy-five minutes sounds exhausting hard to complete the work continuously.  Whether you choose 75 minutes or 25 minutes, in both cases, you will remember just 10 minutes from the beginning and 10 minutes from the end. Middle study time is downtime. Generally, you forget what you studied. This phenomenon is known as the primacy and the recency effect.

The primacy effect refers to the tendency to remember information presented at the beginning of a list. We remember best what we see or hear first. So, use the primacy effect to learn a new topic, downtime (lowest retention time) for the practice.

In contrast to the primacy effect, the recency effect refers to the tendency for people to remember information that is presented last in a list. Recency Effect is an effective time for an application to retain what we have learned.


For effective learning, you must plan your study sessions to take advantage of both the Primacy and the Recency Effects. If you want to remember something better, learn it at the beginning, summarize it at the end of your study time.

“As the lesson time lengthens, the percentage of downtime increases. So, use short, frequent study sessions. Make each study session 25 minutes, like in the Pomodoro technique.

Assume that we have two brilliant students like you, and each student has 75 minutes. The first student prefers to study 75 minutes continuously. But other student uses the Pomodoro study technique, divides 75 minutes into three equal intervals. After 25 minutes of study, he gets 5 minutes break. According to the primacy and recency effect, the first student utilizes 20 minutes effectively. On the other hand, the second student uses 60 minutes more effectively.


Application of Primacy and Recency Effect

  • Design each lesson time 25 minutes. Don’t extent if you are learning a new topic
  • Review and summarize what you learn last 5 minutes
  • After 25 minutes, take a short break, stand up and stretch, and rest your eyes. During 5 minutes break, don’t do anything that you like to do. Because once you start, indeed, you will not come back. You never end it within 5 minutes. Never watch TV, don’t pick mobile, computers, social media, don’t read newspapers or magazines, etc. during 5 minutes break.

If you want something to remember, learn it at the beginning, summarize it at the end of your study time. Practice as much as possible right after 10-15 minutes of lesson time (prime time segment). Explain to somebody what you have learned (Feynman technique). Make sure you begin and end your lesson time with the most crucial concept.



  1. Morrison, M. “Primacy and Recency Effects in Learning.” Rapidbi, The BBS Agency, 17 march 2015, https://rapidbi.com/primacy-and-recency-effects-in-learning/
  2. How To REMEMBER FOR TESTS | LBCC Study Skills, YouTube,  Long Beach City College, 6 April 2011,  44:33, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rncitiqvXcg