The Memrise website has a page about the scientific principles on which Memrise is based. The page also lists several articles and studies that support these principles. However, it does not list any studies that have been done involving Memrise. Hence the following question: According to research, how effective is Memrise for learning vocabulary?

Note: Vocabulary is only one aspect of language learning; this question is not about other aspect. In addition, each cited study needs to define how it measures effectiveness.

Tip: Resources for Researching Language Learning Questions.

  • In my personal experience, it is the most effective method. Nov 19, 2016 at 16:51
  • Spaced repetition (SR) is (as any scientific principle) not proprietary, and can be implemented independently (like Anki mentioned in @gavenkoa 's answer). Would you be interested in studies about other implementations of SR? And similar approaches, like flashcards? I am not volunteering to do the search, just suggesting that by widening the question you might get more (still relevant) answers. Dec 29, 2017 at 17:02
  • @PeterMasiar I know very well that Memrise is not the only software or website that uses spaced repetition. The effectiveness of spaced repetition is uncontroversial, as far as I know. This question focuses exclusively on Memrise.
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 29, 2017 at 19:19
  • OK fair enough, but exclusion of other SRS was not obvious (to me) from the question alone. As I am reading your many other questions/answers here, I can see now that you are extremely well informed, but if you clarified this (that only Memrise is relevant and no other SRS systems) in the question, I would not have try to use my crystal ball. As you can see, it is a bit cloudy today :-) Thank you for the good work you are doing in this forum. Dec 29, 2017 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


The Memrise scheduling algorithm is proprietary. It is unlikely that we have independent and trusted research ))).

I stick to Anki because it is a vendor-independent solution (for example, the AnkiDroid project is an independent implementation of Anki on Android) and it is possible to modify the scheduling schema to some degree.

There are scientific buzzwords in their advertisement page. But consider these info:

From: https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/1aelh5/how_good_is_memrise_for_learning_for_vocabulary/

Flash cards should supplement your normal course of study, not replace it. Memrise is no different and will not effectively teach you grammar or composition.


If I fail a word it shouldn't take a month for it to show up again.

From: https://community.memrise.com/t/frequency-that-words-are-reviewed/4454/5

For any word that you always get correct, this is the review schedule:

Plant/learn: review again in 4 hours
First review: water/review again in 24 hours
6 days
12 days
24 days
48 days
96 days
180 days
180 days
180 days, etc

If you get a word wrong during the planting session, it will
come due in 4 hours, and then 12 hours. After that, it
follows the normal schedule if you always get it right. (24
hours, 6 days, and so on.)

In some courses, if you plant, and then don't water for 24
hours or more, Memrise adds an extra watering session. (4
hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 6 days, etc.)

Later, after you've watered an item a few times, if you get
it mostly right (maybe you had a typo), it will come up for
review in 4 hours, and then return to the normal
schedule. (For example: plant, 4 hours, 24 hours, 6 days, got
it mostly right, 4 hours, 12 days, etc)

If you get it completely wrong during a watering session, the
schedule starts over as if you're planting. I'm not sure if
it includes the extra watering at 12 hours or not.

It is somewhat like SRS scheduling, and unlike Supermemo or Anki, this time schema is not adjusted to you and word difficulty (easy words aren't graduated faster).

From the official FAQ What is the science behind Memrise? Why is it effective?:

Memrise is based on several important scientific discoveries about how we learn. First, our system of mems (mnemonics and memory aids) promotes elaborate encoding- encouraging the learning brain to do more by engaging the imagination, and thus helping lay down stronger, more durable memories.

That topic covered by famous: https://www.supermemo.com/en/articles/20rules

But again, cards are made by volunteers; Memrise provides only a rich multimedia platform...

For example, Anki's representation system is built around the Qt WebEngine on desktop and able to show HTML, images, and play sounds, but lacks video support.

Secondly, Memrise makes use of Spaced Repetition, helping you review words at expertly spaced intervals to help you maintain them in memory in the most efficient manner possible. Reminders space out in time as your knowledge for a word gets deeper, meaning you don't forget, but don't waste time reviewing what you already know.

See the above scheduling schema. If they are true (and not adjustable to your performance on individual card basis) - too bad. Supermemo adjust E-factor since 1990 ))

Third, Memrise systematically exploits the Testing Effect, which shows that by actively recalling a memory, you strengthen it. Because the degree of strengthening to a memory correlates with the difficulty of the test, Memrise automatically makes the tests more difficult over time, again helping you boost your learning in the best way possible.

Can someone explain how is that possible (makes the tests more difficult over time) if they do not do cards themselves?

Do they mean making shorter time restriction for an answer? I heard only negative opinions about this feature. For this reason people switched to Anki or other solutions...

I'm wondering if they would provide list of thier:

We've got loads of nifty cognitive science tricks up our sleeves that we translate to the Memrise platform, so that we can adaptively calibrate the tests we give you.

to the public.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. I just want to let you know that there is research on the effectiveness of Memrise (i.e. published in peer-reviewed journals). .
    – Tsundoku
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:31

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