How does Brainscape work?

Brainscape optimizes your learning by adapting to YOUR pace. As you reveal each answer, Brainscape asks you, the learner, how confident you feel that you will remember the concept forever. Low-confidence items are repeated more frequently until you gradually report higher and higher confidence. Cognitive science research has proven that learner-driven spaced repetition is the most efficient use of study time.

What kind of study method does Brainscape use?

Brainscape is similar to a deck of flashcards, but it adapts to your learning curve (more on Confidence Based Repetition later). When a new card is generated by Brainscape, you are asked to think of the answer and then to reveal it by flipping the card. This mental activity is more effective than selecting from among multiple choices because you are actively recalling the information rather than simply recognizing it. It is also more effective than manually typing in an answer because it is faster and allows you to see more questions in less time.

How is Brainscape different from flashcards?

Unlike a simple deck of index cards, once Brainscape has shown you the correct answer, you are asked to rate your likelihood of remembering it forever by tapping a button 1-5, where 1 represents "no confidence" and 5 represents "perfect confidence." The buttons are color-coded from red to blue, representing the strength of your memory trace. Your confidence selection immediately changes the color of the current card before it is wiped away to reveal the next card. You are then presented cards based on your confidence ratings. This is the basis of Confidence Based Repetition.

What is Confidence Based Repetition?

As you proceed through cards, Brainscape determines which cards to show you based on the confidence levels that you have reported. Lower confidence cards (e.g. 1s and 2s) will be seen very frequently, while higher confidence cards (e.g. 4s and 5s) are seen very infrequently. When Brainscape shows you a card that you have already seen, it will be displayed in the color that you rated it last time, and you are asked to rate your confidence again. It may take several views before you feel confident enough to rate a card a 5.


What happens when I launch the Brainscape app?

When you launch the app, you will be prompted to login if you are not already. You will then be taken to the Library. The typical study session begins at the Library screen. There, you see a list of all subjects that you "own", with a summary of the Mastery and the proportion of cards studied for each deck.

How do I start studying?

You can easily launch a study session by drilling into a subject and selecting a deck. You can also create a study session that pulls flashcards from many different decks, by clicking the Random Mix or Progressive Study button, depending on the subject area.

When do I know when I’m done studying?

In Brainscape, and in life, you are never "finished" learning something. You simply decide when you have seen enough cards in the current study session. YOU are the best judge of how much to review in a given sitting. There is no rush to rate every card a 5 unless you are perfectly confident that you will remember them forever, so please take your time and be honest with yourself.

To exit a study session, simply tap the Exit button.

How do I get to the next card?

The only way to proceed to the next card in Brainscape's study mode is to rate your confidence in the current card. This is necessary because without a confidence rating, Brainscape will not know when to show you the card again. That said, you can always go back to the previous card by selecting Previous Card from the menu options, and you can rate this previous card's confidence again.

Can I search for cards?

You may also search for cards in a deck by selecting "search" from the study menu options, then typing in a keyword for the card you are looking for. A list of card names will be brought up in the search results, and you can tap on any card to see it and rate your confidence in it. You will then be brought back to the search results screen.

What is “Mastery”?

Your Mastery is equal to a weighted average of your confidence in all items in the respective deck.

What does the Mastery bar tell me?

During a study session, you can keep track of how you are doing by keeping an eye on the "Mastery" bar. Your Mastery is a weighted average of your confidence in all the cards in your current deck or study mix. If your confidence in every card is a 5, then your Mastery is 100%. The "studied" counter shows you how many cards in the current study mix you have ever seen. You can also tap on the Mastery bar to see a graph of exactly how many cards are in each confidence bucket. Your goal is to gradually move all cards to a confidence level of 5, but be honest.

How do I delete cards?

If you ever see a card that you never want to see again - because it is irrelevant, wrong, or otherwise uninteresting - you may delete it by selecting Delete Card from the study menu options. You will be prompted with a warning that the deletion is permanent. You will not be able to retrieve the card once you have removed it from your Library.

Can I retrieve cards/decks that I deleted?

Be careful, because when you delete Brainscape content you create (cards, decks, subjects), it is gone for good. We’re working on a backup system for you guys, but in the meantime, think twice before hitting the delete button.

Are there any statistics about my studying?

Your stats screen shows you the progress and confidence breakdown for a given subject area. There are a couple of ways that you can access statistics:

  • Tapping the Stats button on the main menu bar - This shows you statistics across all items in your entire library
  • Tapping the Mastery bar during study - This shows you current statistics for your current study mix (i.e. either a deck, a whole category, or your entire library)

Both of the statistics screens have a similar format. They show you a breakdown of how many cards exist in each of the confidence buckets (0 - Not studied, 1 - Don't Know, . . . 5 - Mastered), and they show you some aggregate statistics about the respective flashcard pool. Remember that the Mastery statistic is equal to a weighted average of your confidence in all flashcards in the pool.

Is there a way to reset my stats?

Yes, you can reset your stats if you want. You can find the reset stats button online by clicking on the gear box next to the deck or the subject you’d like to reset and selecting “Reset.” From your iOS device, you can access the “Stats” screen from the bottom menu and select “Reset” in the upper right corner. Warning for the main Brainscape app: this will reset ALL of your subjects. To reset one subject or just a deck, go to the stats screen for that particular subject or deck, or just reset that subject or deck from our website.

Finding and Creating Subjects

What subjects does Brainscape offer?

Brainscape offers many subjects in a variety of categories, and is continuously expanding its breadth. You can discover all the subjects offered by either visiting the online marketplace or browsing the Brainscape apps in the iTunes App Store.

What if Brainscape does not offer the subject I want?

Let us know if we don’t offer a subject that you want to study! Post it on Facebook, Tweet it, or email us at info@brainscape.com. We love it when our users tell us what we should work on next.

Or, if you can’t wait, you can always create your own subject!

Can I create my own Brainscape subjects?

Yes! Brainscape makes it easy to create your own subjects for free to study on our adaptive platform. You can even study your custom subjects on the go -- just download them to your iOS devices via the Brainscape app.

Can I share Brainscape subjects?

Yes! You can share any subject you create directly with another user’s Brainscape Library. Just open your library, navigate to the subject you wish to share, and select “Share” under the gear box that appears to the right of the Subject Title.

Can I import my Quizlet decks into Brainscape?

Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to automatically import your Quizlet decks into Brainscape. However, some users have mentioned that they were able to export a Quizlet deck as a .csv file (from Quizlet's website) and then manually import it via Brainscape's website. If you do try something like that with Quizlet or any other study community, please be sure you are complying with their Terms of Service and not importing any copyrighted material into Brainscape.

The Future

Will there be more Brainscape subjects available in the future?

Absolutely! We are constantly working on creating the best subjects for you to study as possible. How do we decide what subjects to work on next? Your input! Please send us your suggestions. You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, and email.

What platforms does Brainscape support?

iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iTouch) and web browsers...for now.


Not yet :’( We have a few more ‘big things’ we want to take care of on iOS before we put out Android versions as well. Let us know you’re interested in an Android version of Brainscape by sending us an email at info@brainscape.com, and we’ll alert you when we get to it!