Review Review 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 hexagon 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. No magical or mysterious method required.

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 two different ways to review, and I’d love to hear others’ suggestions. Then adapt these tips until it becomes your own.

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.

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.
This system provides regular accountability without the daily deadlines. Take all the books/passages you have memorized and put them in the natural order they appear in the Bible. Review your list in order and then return to the beginning. Example:
Psalm 139
1 Corinthians 13
1 Thessalonians
Hebrews 11
1 Peter
2 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 where it fits in the order.

Tweak these review systems to fit your needs. And all of you mega-memorizers out there, please add your advice, tips, suggestions and input. We will all benefit.

13 comments to Review Review Review

  • I am still figuring out the best rhythm for me, that “happy place” in the structure zone! For 2014 I have created a spreadsheet that lives on the desktop of my computer. My passages are listed here with a column for each month. My minimum goal is to review each passage each month. I just tick the box by the passage for that month. This gives me a picture of where I’m at and helps reduce the risk of ignoring those that need a little more work. (I have my favorites which are more easily reviewed!) I also work on my new memory stuff on the weekdays and the weekends are dedicated to review – usually. I’ve been pondering the idea of dedicating a hunk of time to review – like a personal retreat/sabbatical – and really capturing some of the big lessons that God has worked in my heart. I’d be curious to know what others have done!
    Thanks, Janet!

  • cathy blair

    hi there Janet and all bloggers! REVIEW! !…. this has been a a difficult process for me as well. WhenI first read your book back in 2009 and began memorizing books in the Bible I had neglected to set up a review plan. For a long time I justified not being able to review by thinking that it was better to be spending my efforts memorizing new passages. a few years ago I realized that my efforts at memorizing new stuff was really lost when I didn’t retain it and though I could say yeah I memorized the book of Philippians and Peter … if I couldn’t recall it then did I really memorize it? I think memorizing and keeping it in your memory go hand in hand. so a couple of summers ago I decided to bring back to mind all I had worked on. What worked for me since I was so rusty was too focus on one book for 30 days and each day review all of that book until I was fluid enough to have it back pretty soundly. Now I firmly believe that memorizing God’s Word without intentionally having a review plan to retain it just doesn’t make sense. They truly do go together as peas in a pod.

  • Cathy

    Thanks, Janet & Karen, for sharing your review systems. I use System #2 but need a way to keep track of where I am in the system and think I’ll set up a form like Karen’s. I always seem to start strong at the beginning of the month and then lose focus as the month goes on. I may reserve the weekends like Karen to just review. I have at least 20 minutes in the car when my husband drives us to and from church on Sundays that I can dedicate just to review.

  • Susan Turner

    I love to review because the passages I have memorized are very dear to me. I want to be reminded regularly of what God taught me in those passages and I don’t want to lose them. I have recently accumulated more than 7 passages and here are a couple of methods I use: the shorter passages I have doubled up. For example Titus is not too long and I have it down pretty well so I have doubled it up with 3 chapters in Isaiah – also not too long. I may review Titus in the morning and then the Isaiah passages as I run an errand. Another thing I do is on some passages that I seem to have down a little better, I alternate every other week on the same day. For example, on Tuesday I review Matt 5-7, The Sermon on the Mount, one week and the following Tuesday I review Luke 1-2, The Christmas Story. So as I add other passages, I will double up and alternate in the same way some of the more familiar ones. If I miss a passage one week, I don’t worry too much. I just pick it up again the next week. This seems to be working for me at the moment. I am sure that my system will change over time.
    Karen, I like your idea of a review retreat.

  • Richie Malone

    Once thinking that the memorization of an entire book was impossible, I have now come to see that Janet is exactly right: our brains were wired to do this. Our part is to put the information in there repeatedly and, after a certain magic number of times, it will remain there. I did not reach that magic number of times with Colossians before I slacked off with review and lost it. I made up my mind that I did not want it to be lost forever, so I went back and picked it up. Though the verses were familiar, it did take about 3 months of relearning each verse to put it back in place. My review routine has been hit and miss for the last couple of years. The books I have known longer than that are still there but this one which is newest did go away. So I know first hand how crucial it is to review daily. I have recently switched from System #1 to System #2 and it is working well.

    • OK, one more tip that might help. When I complete a new passage it needs more review so I insert it every other one for about a year so that I don’t lose it while I’m reviewing the others. For example, Deuteronomy 6 I did last year so I review it in between all the others. Hope this makes sense. If not, its explained more fully in my book, page 134. I try to keep the blogs to 400 words so I don’t have room to include everything. I love all the comments. Keep them coming

  • Cherie

    I really like Karens idea of a retreat for review and reflection of our memory work. Wow? May I say how much this scatterbrained, exhausted mommy needs that? Gosh, just the sound of it is awesome. 
    As far as review, this is one area that I haven’t organized well, and I’ve been wanting to. 
    Not knowing today’s post would be about this subject, I took advantage of the few minutes my littlest was watching a cartoon last night and created a chart to try and organize my review process. My plan was to go in order of what I’ve memorized which is very random, but I really like Janet’s idea of going in the order of the chapters in the Bible. I’ve decided to do this. I made a chart with 30 rows and 2 columns. One column for the day of the month and the 2nd for the chapter/chapters. and I am going to list all 50 chapters, doubling up on most to fit them into 30 days. I’m excited to start this because the more I memorize, the harder it is to keep track. Especially since I’ve memorized so much of Paul, and he repeats himself a lot. 
    I cannot emphasize enough how much reviewing constantly is the key. There is no way I could have memorized 50 chapters in less than 5 years without it. Doing dishes, driving, stoplights, laundry, vacuuming, brushing my teeth, showering, cooking—all of these daily mindless activities I use to review. It is such a habit now. I’m so grateful for our online community in which we mega-memorizers can share ideas. And I’m gonna keep on dreaming of a Mega-Memorizer Retreat. 🙂

  • Lise Anderson Brocious

    Wow ladies,what great ideas! I have been struggling with review for several years. Janet encouraged me last September to just review for a while and so for 4 months I just reviewed and did nothing else. It was an amazing time not only because I got the passages back but because I learned to love reviewing during this time. So when I started back on Luke 10 I asked God to show me how and when He wanted me to review. Within a week God showed me clearly where, when, and how to review. So I guess my big recommendation for reviewing is PRAY! With all the wonderful info we have received just in this blog we have the head knowledge but we need Him to show us what to do and do it.

    • Hi Lise, thanks for sharing. I too have come to a decision in my review. Last year I memorized 2 Corinthians chapters 1-7 and my plan was to do chapters 8-13 this year. I took all of January to review 1-7 so I was going to start chapter 8 tomorrow on Feb 1. I decided this morning that I will take all of February to review some of my rusty passages. And then reevaluate after that. My tendency is to rush to the NEW passage because I love it so much. But I always get fresh insights when I review, and I really don’t want to forget any of the passages I have memorized over 20 years. They are my treasures that have given me daily joy. Press on everyone. Whether review or new, let’s press on.

  • Mark Zinke

    Probably daily I recite a passage or book for encouragement and to help me think right. I probably review more this way than any planned way.

    Another thing I do is, as I finish memorizing a chapter of a book I generally recite the other books I have done recently. Like yesterday I finished Colossians chapter 2. This morning I recited 1st Peter & Ephesians, Psalms 1, 8, 23, 25, 119, 139 and 150. Now tomorrow I will review Colossians 1 and 2 and begin Colossians chapter 3.

    Its kind of cool that I found this memorization sight. I don’t know any people who really memorize the bible. Ms. Pope, I heard you on WMBI and sent you a note and you reached out to me, thanks.

    • Mark, welcome to our community. You have found others who love memorizing God’s Word. We will value your input and learn together. I like how you said that you recite a passage to help you think right. Me too, because by default I think about ME, and it takes me down a path where I don’t want to go.

  • Josh

    Yes, repetition is the key. When I was a teenager, long before I became a Christian, I listened to certain kinds of music over and over, and I still remember the lyrics to so many of those wicked songs by heart, even though I wish I could forget them.

    I’m in the process of memorizing Philippians (which will be my first book memorized). I want to make every book of the Bible that I memorize as much a part of my permanent memory as those songs. I want to be able to recite it effortlessly, and still be able to do so in 50 years. So of course I will review at every opportunity, and once I know it by heart, gradually review less often to make time for reviewing other memorized books.

    The point is to be able to have God’s Word with me wherever I go, at all times. Why wouldn’t I review?

  • Kelly

    Thank you for this! My review has been lacking, to say the least. I am now including review as part of my daily memorization work. I am also thankful to the Lord that He does not hold my forgetfulness against me and that His mercies (including His mercies to continue on in this process) are new every morning! I may not have reviewed before but I can begin now! It’s not too late for me!