Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

10 Awesome Apps to Improve Learning Retention

10 Awesome Apps to Improve Learning Retention

By Ethan Miller

What’s the most common problem that students complain about? Not remembering everything they have been taught in class. I’ve seen my students cringe when I say the two words ‘Pop Quiz’. The response I hear all the time: “I can’t remember what I studied!”

It’s not just me. Every teacher discussion has a mention of how students forget what was taught to them. This is when students resort to ‘rote memorization’.

Memorizing without understanding is not learning. The real learning and growth happens when the mind improves its capacity to understand and retain what’s being taught. As teachers, we have to find ways to do just that. That’s where retention and brain training come into play.

What is brain training?

Brain training is a guided and targeted practice to improve specific cognitive abilities like memory, attention, problem solving, speed, flexibility, and most importantly, mindfulness. How do we do that? Well, we’re lucky to be living in a time where kids have easy access to technology and can use it, in many cases, with more skill than most adults.

Enter online educational games and apps. These tools require students to use analytical thinking and combine challenges with rewards. Games are especially good at keeping students engaged and motivated to do well in order to score better.

More: 12 Educational Games to Boost Productivity

Apps to Improve Learning Retention

Here are some tried and tested educational apps that can improve your memory and train your brain.


iOS and Android devices

The first app that comes to mind when I hear “brain training” is Lumosity. Lumosity is designed for complete cognitive development, with games that aim to sharpen memory, improve speed, attention, vocabulary, math, and problem solving skills.

Lumosity games are designed in such a way that playing one game can improve your performance in the other game. They call this the ‘Transfer of learning.’ There are many memory games to choose from and I specifically selected Pinball Recall, Memory Matrix, Familiar faces, and Memory Match Overdrive for my students.

Students can play and learn at their own pace as the Lumosity Brain Training program constantly challenges your brain by adjusting the difficulty as per your performance.

Personal Zen

iOS devices

As the name says, this app is your students’ personal guide to calming their mind and relieving stress. The game has two points of focus competing for attention: a happy sprite and an angry sprite. The player has to try and focus only on the happy sprite and trace its path as shown on the screen by using a finger.

The game is simple. It tests your students’ attention and focus while the music soothes their mind. This learning retention app uses research-based therapy; results have proven to reduce stress and anxiety in participants and I ask my students to use it for 10 minutes everyday.

More: 10 Ways to Motivate Stressed Students to Read


iOS and Android devices

Cram is an application that allows students create flashcards to memorize what they learn. I’m not preaching rote memorization with flashcards here, but I recommend Cram because the technique used is one that helps students remember.

Cram mixes Leitner’s system of learning with its multiple levels of testing called the “Cram Mode,” where students pass through five levels of questioning for each set of flashcards. Teachers can collaborate with students, create tests, and rate the performance on the app.

Every flashcard set that you create also comes with its own version of the two Cram games ‘Jewels of Wisdom’ and ‘Stellar Speller.’


iOS devices

Braingle is a brain exercise that challenges students with puzzles, brain teasers, optical illusions, and games. Besides improving the memory, it enhances vocabulary and builds creativity. Although there are many games to choose from, I specifically tell my students to play the Word Search, Sudoku, Code Breaker, and Math Path.

Braingle has an option to play multiplayer games so the students also learn how to work in groups. 


iOS and Android devices

Cognifit helps to detect cognitive deficits in different age groups using it’s carefully designed tests like Exploration, Estimation, Concentration, Sequencing, Speed, etc.

The app scientifically validates its games, with their research focussed on improving 26 important cognitive skills, including memory, concentration, planning, attention, etc.

The games can evaluate and adapt a user’s performance in each level and plan their next difficulty levels accordingly. There are many free games that are available on the platform but my personal favourites are Mahjong, Cross roads, Sudoku, Word Quest, and Candy factory,

You’ll experience an overall improvement in brain function among students by spending just 15 minutes playing these games everyday.

More: 15 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Learning Retention


iOS and Android devices

Elevate is your students’ personal brain trainer helping to improve their brains’ ability to acquire and retain knowledge in the long-term. Elevate starts by asking students a set of questions about their goals before asking a few more questions to assess skill sets such as reading, writing, speaking, listening, and math.

Once they’re through with the quizzing part, it gives them a report called ‘Your starting EPQ (Elevate Proficiency Quotient)’. The app then trains their brain with quiz-like games, asking questions on Discounting (Math), Processing sentences (Reading), Memory & Speaking.

Brain Age

Web only

Brainage is not a mobile app but a Nintendo-based game to increase focus and improve concentration levels in students. They’ve updated their brain training methods and it’s now called the “Devilish training program.”

There are eight types of training programs available: Devilish Calculations, Devilish Pairs, Devilish Mice, Devilish Reading, Devilish Shapes, Devilish Blocks, Devilish Cups, and Devilish Listening. Each training aims to improve your memory and concentration levels.

The games follow the n-back training technique with each of it’s training methods keeping the players engaged and always on their toes. The games are challenging and interesting so the students will concentrate even more. The games adjust their difficulty based on the student’s performance.


iOS and Android devices

Stress has a negative effect on health and memory. When the body is stressed, it’s difficult to concentrate, form and retrieve memories; it’s also harder to create short term memories and turn them into long term memories.

Happify is an app for anyone who wants to overcome stress and negative thoughts. As a student, there are a lot of small things that may trigger stress and negativity. Happify starts by analyzing students’ emotional state by asking questions about age, personal interactions, nature, and health. It then creates a personal profile for each student.

According to this personal profile, ‘Tracks’ are designed to train their mind. These tracks have a set of games, fun activities, reading tasks, etc., to bring down stress and negativity.

Mind Games

iOS and Android devices

Mind Games is a strategically developed app with each game focused on developing a particular cognitive skill. It’s easy to get lost in the wide array of games but by careful selection, I’ve picked out a few to train my students, including:

Attention Training and Memory Racer to improve focus and speed, Memory Flow and Word Memory for verbal memory, Vocabulary Star for knowledge, and Similarities Scramble for verbal reasoning.

The application also has a customizable training centre with chosen games to improve your brain skills.

Memory Birds

iOS devices

Memory Birds is yet another simple game for kids below the age of 11. This game also works on the n-back system of memory training where candidates are presented with a sequence of birds in continuous steps and they have to recall the sequence that was 1 step, 2 step, or n steps back.

Memory Birds has 24 levels that get unlocked step-by-step as the player completes each level.

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10 Best Apps to Improve Learning retention

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