Mnemonic essays may offer detailed retention of their contents in exchange for 35-50% reading time overhead

To reach an average of 2 months of demonstrated retention, 2019H1 QCVC readers spent an average of 90 minutes reviewing. Because it takes the average reader about 4 hours to read the essay, we can frame the review time as a relative overhead: by spending 35-50% more time with the essay, readers will reliably retain all its details.

It’s like an add-on. Would you like avocado with your burger for $2 extra? It seems that detailed retention works like that, at least for QCVC. What if you could “purchase that add-on” for anything you read? Or if you could spend 10% more time to retain the subset of details you found most valuable?

The inevitability associated with this proposition is what makes the mnemonic medium a possible Executable strategy for solving People seem to forget most of what they read, and they mostly don’t notice.

Just how small can we make that overhead? Looking at 2019H1 vs. 2019H2 QCVC readers (the latter having a more aggressive schedule), it appears that we may have already reduced the cost by 25%.


Matuschak, A., & Nielsen, M. (2019). How can we develop transformative tools for thought? Retrieved December 2, 2019, from

Last updated 2023-07-13.