For Educators

Evidence-based Learning — The Research Behind Sketchy

Backed by science, the Sketchy Method utilizes visual and auditory memory activation strategies to make even the most complex topics easy to remember and hard to forget.

The Sketchy Method is based on the “Method of Loci,” a visual memory technique developed thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks. Of course, students no longer need to memorize lengthy soliloquies for their physiology exam. But there is significant (modern) research supporting the technique's effectiveness across many different subjects and areas of study, including medicine. Backed by science, the Sketchy Method utilizes visual and auditory memory activation strategies to make even the most complex topics easy to remember and hard to forget.

Check out the video below to see the Sketchy Method in action. Using the cardiac medication digoxin as an example, Dr. Saud Siddiqui, co-founder dives into Sketchy’s powerful use of narrative and spatial memory to expand our ability to learn and retain complex information. You can explore more on this Sketchy lesson here.


Reading and writing are fairly recent developments in human history, but navigating physical spaces—like to find food, escape danger, and return home—have always been pretty important for survival. Evolution has honed the brain’s capacity to remember how to move around the world—that’s a fundamental human characteristic. Our lessons are designed to harness that innate skill to help students learn medicine, science, and more. Even for those who don’t think of themselves as “visual learners,” the Sketchy Method still works! 

The Sketchy Method takes visual memory techniques like the Method of Loci and memory palaces to a whole new level. We create clever, memorable symbols associated with key information related to the topic at hand, and then we place these symbols in an imagined, but familiar, visual world, along with extra elaborative encoding elements like color, location, proximity to other symbols, and story—to name just a few. These visual memory techniques make our symbols especially ‘sticky’ and scientifically easier and quicker to recall. Once we’ve created this visual setting, we then utilize auditory encoding: taking students on a tour, navigating around a memorable space, crafting short, digestible videos that can be stored away, essentially forever.

The Sketchy Method is so effective precisely because it uses the power of the brain’s visual spatial storage and visual memory recall capacity. For example, using brain imaging techniques, this study found that in people who use normal approaches to recall, brain activity was centered in just a single area. However, those who use spatial learning techniques had improved recall with increased activity in multiple brain regions—over 20 of them!—known to play important roles in memory. 

When visual memory recall was tested with medical students, this method demonstrated particular strength in duration of recall, helping to ameliorate the forgetting curve. In concert with traditional methods, visual learning can make an enormous impact on retention of material. That’s exactly the kind of advantage that can boost student confidence—especially for those who may struggle with retention when using more traditional learning modalities—and make the difference on exams.

For more information on how we’ve helped 400,000+ students become doctors, check out Sketchy and get in touch.

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