The Science of Stile X: Retrieval practice

Retrieval practice is the first of five evidence-based learning strategies we’re exploring in the Science of Stile X blog series!

The Science of Stile X: Retrieval practice

By Kat Gentry, Special Projects Lead at Stile Education

What is retrieval practice?

Retrieval practice involves trying to recall something without having it immediately in front of you. It’s also known as active recall, reinforcement and retrieval.

How does retrieval practice work?

Retrieval practice involves effortfully withdrawing something learned from your long-term memory and bringing it into your working memory. Scientists think that this effort reinforces the neural pathways used in that memory, making them stronger, more flexible and easier to access in the future.

Examples of retrieval practice:

  • Low-stakes quizzes
  • Flashcards
  • Asking students to draw or write about a concept from memory
  • Re-writing notes without checking, then correcting against

Tests are such a common method of retrieval practice that the positive learning outcomes from retrieval are often called the “testing effect”.


  • Passively re-reading or listening
  • Copying out notes
  • An open-book test

How Stile X embeds retrieval practice:

  • Quizzes in the Stile X app support frequent, low-stakes quizzing.
  • After completing an in-class science lesson, students can master the concepts from class by completing the relevant questions in the Revision notes section.
  • Before an assessment, students can complete the practice test section under test conditions.
  • In the Extra Notes section, students can write everything they can recall about a topic, then correct themselves against the lesson on
  • Students can use the Flashcards on the Stile X phone app.

Dive into the research

Want to learn more about Stile X?

Read the next blog in The Science of Stile X series: Metacognition here or find out more about Stile X here.