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SuperMemo Manual
Chapter 1.4

Introduction to SuperMemo:
Learning with SuperMemo

Below you can find some basic suggestions for learning with the SuperMemo method. The next chapter, Further Reading has links to more suggestions and learning tips.

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*  Follow the suggested procedure

Each day, you should follow these three steps:
  1. Tests - prepared by SuperMemo
  2. Committing - learning and committing new material in SuperMemo databases
  3. Drills - created from wrong answers in tests (step 1) and from committing newly learned material (step 2)
Every day that you use SuperMemo, you should finish your tests and drills. You do not need to learn anything new (step 2), but skipping the tests and drills can worsen your overall performance.

You can repeat steps 2 and 3 if you decide to learn even more new material later. Also, you can decide whether you finish all three steps on one database (French vocabulary for instance) before proceeding to another database (e.g. World Geography) or whether you perform tests on all databases first, or anything in between.

Of course you do not need to do everything in one session. You can use SuperMemo several times a day. You can stop when you are tired and come back later.

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*  Work regularly

Regular work with SuperMemo is a key to your success. Without regular tests and drills, SuperMemo algorithms will not be effective enough. It is not a shortcoming of the SuperMemo method. It is simply the way a human brain works. Regular work with SuperMemo can help you to develop a mind like a steel trap and an iron will as well.

The ideal way is to use SuperMemo every day. You can have some short breaks, e.g. on Saturdays or Sundays. The regularity is important. It is better to use SuperMemo every other day (which is only 15 times a month) than to work on 20 consecutive days and then having a 10-day break (which might seem to be better as it is 20 times a month).

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*  Create simple items

If you create cards that contain too much text and that are too complex, you will find out that you will almost never recall the whole card correctly. It will gather high difficulty and it will repeat and annoy you in your tests and drills very often.

If this happens, it is a sign that you need to delete it and split the information contained in the item into more cards with less information each. Although you will have more cards, the information they contain is the same and you will learn and recall them much easier.

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*  Avoid ambiguous answers

If you have two different cards describing the same fact with different answers, you will not be able to recall the right answer for the right question and this will artificially increase the difficulty of the card. An example is:
Q1: What is the capital of China?
A1: Beijing

Q2: Capital of China
A2: Peking
You will often answer Peking to the first question and Beijing to the second question. To prevent this, group the answers into a single card like this:
Q: What is the capital of China?
A: Beijing / Peking
Answering either Beijing or Peking (or both) can be considered a correct answer then.

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*  Pay attention to your tests and drills

When repeating cards in your tests and drills, do not try to speed it up by superficial answers and hasty jumps to next cards. The tests and drills are here so that you can actively recall the information. You should realize the correct answer and think about it a bit. If it is a vocabulary item for instance, you can try saying a sentence using the word.

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