How and When to Review

“How in the world do you remember all that Scripture?” A common question with a simple answer. I review!

The human brain doesn’t store everything it comes across. When information is important and you want to remember it, you tell your brain to store it by reviewing the information over and over. Things as simple as learning the days of the week, to more complicated concepts like chemistry symbols, all require memorizing and then reviewing until the repetition alerts your brain to hold on to this data.

Memorizing Scripture and being able to recall it later is done the same way. However, each person’s requirement may vary. For me, it requires hundreds of repetitions to put something into my long term memory. For some people it may take fewer repetitions.

Many who attempt memorizing become discouraged when they take months to learn a passage or a book of the Bible, but then because they don’t review it, they lose what they’ve worked so hard to achieve. Deflated and regretful they assume “I’m just not good at memorizing.”

The solution—get a review system that works for you. I offer three different ways to review, and I’d love to hear others’ suggestions. Adapt these tips into something that works for your lifestyle.

Review System #1: will work for your first 7 books or passages.
After memorizing any book or passage (such as Titus), choose a specific day of the week, and designate that as your weekly review day. For example, on Mondays you will always review the entire book of Titus, even while you’re working on a new memory project. This means that at the end of one year you will have reviewed the book of Titus 52 times. This is moving it closer to long-term memory when you will not have to review as often.

Your next project might be the book of Philippians. After completing Philippians, designate another day of the week to review Philippians—let’s say Tuesdays. Your next completed project will go on Wednesdays, and so on.

This system will work for 7 or fewer passages. Weekly deadlines keep you reviewing the truth you’ve learned. When you have more than 7 passages, the system becomes a burden because you have to double up. It’s time to move on to the next system.

Review System #2: for more than 7 books/passages.
Take all the books/passages you have memorized and list them in the natural order they appear in the Bible. Review your list in order, taking as many days as you need to get it perfect, then return to the beginning. Example:
• Deuteronomy 6
• Ruth
• Psalm 139
• Isaiah 53
• 1 Corinthians 13
• Philippians
• Titus
• Hebrews 11
• 1 Peter

With this system it doesn’t matter if you skip a day or take several days on one passage.
When you complete a new project, insert it into the list where it fits in the order.

Review system #3
Another suggestion comes from my book, page 134-135. After a few years of memorizing, the number of books and passages memorized grows to a very long list. When this happens you end up reviewing each one less frequently. And your most recent project doesn’t get enough review. So here’s my suggestion for your recently finished passage. Insert it into the list every other one, for a few months until you feel it is ready to go into your regular rotation. For example, if 2 Thessalonians is your recently finished project, here’s what that will look like:

• Deuteronomy 6
2 Thessalonians
• Ruth
2 Thessalonians
• Psalm 139
2 Thessalonians
• Isaiah 53
2 Thessalonians
• 1 Corinthians 13
2 Thessalonians
• etc.

Your greatest probability of success will be if you can devise a system that works for you. Each person has a different schedule, different stage of life, different learning style. Some days you have more time, or more repetitive tasks when you can review at the same time. Some days may be completely off limits. Design a system that works for YOU, and then keep tweaking it as needed.

All of you mega-memorizers out there, please add your advice, tips, suggestions and input. We will all benefit.

12 comments to How and When to Review

  • Beverly Schlomann

    I’m not sure how “systematic” it is, but I try to review just before I go to sleep at night. It helps me calm my mind and focus my thoughts to rest. Thank you for this article — you have spurred me on to love and good deeds by reminding me that I need to be more systematic about retaining what the Holy Spirit has placed in my heart!

    • Hi Beverly, I’m glad to be the reminder for you and others. Reviewing is essential if we want to keep what we’ve worked so hard to learn.

  • Brooke Espinoza

    This is great, Janet! Thank you so much! I like the Review System #3 because my brain needs extra review sessions to hold on to a passage I’ve worked so hard to memorize. I’ve always reviewed my passages, doing what Dr. Andrews Davis describes in his booklet, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture. When I finish memorizing a passage I recite it from memory, once through, for the next 100 days. I like to occasionally check myself against the Word, “weeding the garden”, to make sure I’m not adding or dropping out words as I say my verses. Here’s a short PDF describing his review process.
    I really like how he breaks down the review process for the book of Matthew. While I’m faithful to recite a newly memorized passage for 100 days straight, I’m often guilty of not reviewing a passage weekly to keep it fresh. Janet, I’m going to start your weekly review method to freshen up the previously memorized passages in my memory. Thanks!

    • Brooke, Thank you so much for sharing this link with us. I love having extra voices to give new insights and methods that work for others. 100 days sounds like a good amount of time to get something solidified. I think I will do that with my most recent passage.

  • Lise

    Thanks for your great ideas on how to review passages. It is one of those things that I know I need and want to do but don’t. Every time I focus on reviewing I am richly blessed.

  • Vickie Hendershot

    Janet and friends, Thank you for your tips and ideas on review. Just wanted to comment that during review of even the first chapter I memorized, I enjoy new insights and amazing truths that I had not noticed before. What I would have missed had I not kept reviewing them!

    • Vickie, You’re right, God has more to show us in our passage beyond our initial learning. Even years later there is so much to learn. It’s a living book!

  • Ruth

    I’m usually pretty good about reviewing for the first few months after I finish a passage, but then it gets harder since I am usually working on something new. I find it very hard to review regularly more than the past two years or so of memory passages. One thing I do that is helpful is that I have the audio versions on my iPod, and even though I don’t review the passages enough to be able to completely remember them, I try to listen to all of them (what I’ve learned for the past 9 years) at least once a month.

    • Hi Ruth, Listening on audio sounds like a good plan. One of the ladies in my scripture memory group records herself saying the passage and then listens to herself while saying it aloud. That works for her.

  • Karen Burroughs

    Thanks for the link! I’m always looking for ways to improve my “system” such as it is. I have to keep my structure a little loose so that I don’t burn out. I need flexibility. So each month I put a fresh post it note in the back of my Bible where I record that I reviewed a book. It seems to be working for now – sort of soft accountability thing!