How Ali Abdaal Uses Tech to Remember Everything He Reads

The seven-level system for books, podcasts, articles, and tweets.

Eva Keiffenheim
SkillUp Ed
Published in
6 min readNov 11, 2020


As a UK based doctor, YouTuber, instructor, and podcaster, Ali Abdaal is one of the most productive people on the internet.

In one of his recent videos, Ali states that his additional income streams generate more than three times his income as a junior doctor in the UK’s National Health Service.

More than one million people follow his Youtube channel, and his e-mail list has more than 50.000 subscribers.

Despite his achievements, Ali remains a humble, reflective, fun person. Apart from Niklas Göke, he’s the one under 30 content creators I admire most.

In his recent video, he combines cognitive science with life hacks and shares the seven levels that lead to remembering (almost) everything we read.

Level 1: The way most people read

Many people are very passive while consuming content. They read through books and articles or listen to podcasts but don’t engage with the material. Soon, they forget what they learned.

Scientists call this our natural forgetting curve. We lose information over time when we don’t retain it.

Yet, many people continue to equate reading with learning. But this isn’t the case as my experience underlines.

Before building my first business, I had read dozens of books for each stage in the business lifecycle. Yet, as time went on, I forgot most of the advice I consumed. I was the perfect example of a level one reader.

At level one, we’re not using our brainpower. Reading in this way is mere entertainment.

Level 2: Take the next step after passive reading

At this level, you highlight everything you find interesting, either with a finger on your kindle, the trackpad on your browser or with a highlighter in your physical book.

While highlighting gives us the illusion of knowledge, it’s an ineffective learning method. Level two consumption still doesn’t improve your retention capacity.



Eva Keiffenheim
SkillUp Ed

Learning enthusiast, TEDx speaker, and writer with +3M views | Elevate your love for learning with my free, weekly Learn Letter: