One Study Tip You Need This Year That’s Backed by Research

January 5, 2024
"Online Lecture"

Go ahead and watch that lecture on 2x speed. It won’t affect your concentration or memory, according to a study published by students from Adtalem’s Ross University School of Medicine. 


Students looking to maximize their study time are often tempted to increase the playback speed on recorded lectures. 1.25x? 1.5x? Go all the way up to 2x? That temptation comes with a nagging fear: What if I miss something that’s on a test?  

"Lukas Bassett"

As a first-year medical student, Dr. Lukas Bassett wondered that too.  He took the next step and brought the research question to faculty at Adtalem Global Education’s Ross University School of Medicine (Ross Med). 

While he’s now a surgical resident, the answers he and a team of fellow students found was published by BMC Medical Education in a peer-reviewed article, “The Impact of Lecture Playback Speeds on Concentration and Memory.”  

Unexpected Results 

If you find yourself wanting to speed through this article, their bottom-line finding is that “there was no significant difference in student concentration or long-term memory retention with regards to lecture playback speeds.” 

That is not what they expected. Dr. Bassett, along with current Ross Med students Zachary Merhavy and Michelle Melchiorre, thought speeding up lectures would decrease memory retention and lead to concentration fatigue.  

It’s a good thing it didn’t, because when they surveyed research participants, they found that 96% were already speeding up lectures—more than 40% at 2x speed.  

"Maureen Hall"

“They were delighted to discover that lecture playback speeds of up to 2x do not negatively affect their concentration and memory retention,” says Professor Dr. Maureen Hall, the senior researcher and corresponding author on the publication. “As for the faculty, they expressed some relief in the findings.” 

Not So Fast 

Speeding up a recording doesn’t work well with every lecture, the authors caution. They recommend normal speed for faculty who speak rapidly or with an accent.  

“I think people who watch at 2x will be more confident in their decision to do so, but I don’t see a switch for those who watched at slower speeds,” says Dr. Bassett. “However, for those who are having issues with time management, 2x playback speed could be a recommended change.” 

The Research Behind the Results 

Testing playback speed is not an entirely new idea. The authors found a 1968 study with similar findings, but it used a tape recorder. What sets this study apart is that it focused on medical students and used a video lecture with side-by-side presenter and slides.  

Specifically, they chose a straight-forward lecture on asthma and COPD with the speaker using a neutral tone and a consistent pace. For the research, second-year students took a quiz on the topic and played a concentration game, then watched the lecture at either 1.5x or 2x speed and took a post-lecture quiz and played the concentration game again.  

Final Thoughts 

“I extend my heartfelt accolades to Zack, Dr. Bassett, and Michelle for their exceptional contributions in bringing our research vision to fruition,” says Dr. Hall. “Our team collaboration was exemplary, and we are eager to continue exploring the remaining data collected from our research participants in future endeavors.” 

"Zachary Merhavy"

“Not only were we able to help fill a gap in the literature with this research, but by publishing in such a widespread journal, we are able to get that information out to medical educators all over the world,” says Merhavy.  

"Michelle Melchiorre"

“I love the fact that more research will be done on the topic and our paper is part of the foundation,” adds Melchiorre. “Never be afraid to step out and test your ideas.” 



For more information, email the Adtalem Global Communications Team: