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SuperMemo Manual
Chapter 1.1

Introduction to SuperMemo:
What is SuperMemo?

This chapter very briefly explains the core of the SuperMemo method. If you are skeptical or if you want to learn more about the scientific background of this method, follow the links provided in the Further Reading chapter.

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SuperMemo is a powerful learning tool that can improve the speed of your learning up to 10 - 50 times when compared with traditional methods such as flashcards. This means you can cut your total learning time down to 1/10th - 1/50th or you can learn up to 10 - 50 times more in a given time, if you use it regularly. It is an indispensable tool for all kinds of professionals, managers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, students or anybody who needs to memorize facts, numbers, foreign languages, etc.

The capacity of a human brain is extremely huge but not unlimited. Although some popular yet false theories claim the opposite, science shows that people do not remember everything they have ever seen, heard, read or smelled in their entire life. It is a good thing they do not remember everything because sooner or later their brain would fill up and could not accept new information. That is why we have forgetting.

The key question is: How does human brain decide what should stay in and what should be thrown away? Answer to this question is rather simple and it has been found and scientifically described by Dr. Piotr Wozniak and his team of scientists specialized in research of human brain learning capabilities. It is called the repetition spacing. The pattern in which the information repeats is crucial. Surprisingly, the more often the better does not fully apply here. The optimum repetition spacing is a bit more complicated and differs slightly for every person.

SuperMemo algorithms, which have been in constant development since 1987, compute the optimum repetition spacing right for you. When you are presented a question, you need to honestly grade your answer on a 6-grade scale. SuperMemo stores several repetition parameters and factors such as intervals between tests, question difficulties and your grades, and uses them to adjust the values in the repetition spacing algorithms tailored specifically for you.

This is where the huge, up to 10 - 50 fold increase of learning effectiveness comes from. Thanks to the optimum spacing of repetitions, tailored and customized for your brain, SuperMemo will test and show you the information immediately before you would usually forget it. From now on, you will not waste your time repeating items you already know well and relearning items you forgot because you have repeated them too late.

To make this work, you need to use SuperMemo regularly. SuperMemo will drastically reduce your total learning time and increase the effectiveness of your learning, but you still have to do the work, learn new information, commit it to SuperMemo and use it regularly to repeat your knowledge. The more often you use SuperMemo, the better results you will have. The ideal way is to use it every day. Several times a week is great, occasional short breaks are fine, but longer breaks would spoil the effectiveness.

You have the ideal tool, now it is up to you how you capitalize on it.

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