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Learning with SuperMemo

Learning with SuperMemo is based on repetition (see why). 

The button Learn in the element window below makes it possible to learn the material stored in SuperMemo (bottom-left in the picture):


Repetition cycle

In each repetition do the following:

  1. Look at the question and try to answer it (mentally or verbally)
  2. Choose Show answer (at the bottom of the screen) to see the correct answer
  3. Compare your response (from Step 1) with the answer displayed on the screen (in Step 2)
  4. Choose a grade that will reflect the accuracy of your response (e.g. Good, Fail, etc.) (look below for grade details)
  5. Choose Next repetition to continue (and go back to Step 1)

The repetition cycle may be shorter. If the repetition is passive (e.g. reading an article), you may immediately jump to the Next repetition stage.

You can ignore the timer, the response time is not considered in computing optimum intervals.


The grades are defined as follows (keyboard shortcuts in parentheses):


Bright (press 5), excellent response
Good (press 4), correct response provided with some hesitation
Pass (press 3), answer recalled with difficulty; perhaps, slightly incorrect


Fail (press 2), wrong response that makes you say I knew it!
Bad (press 1), wrong response; the correct answer seems to be familiar
Null (press 0), complete blackout; you do not even recall ever knowing the answer

Grading tips:

Regular repetitions are the key to success with SuperMemo

In SuperMemo you first memorize the material and then repeat it when the program asks you to do so.

You memorize new material at your own pace but once it is memorized, you must make repetitions exactly as demanded by SuperMemo. This is not a limitation of the program. This is a limitation of human memory!

The power of SuperMemo is in providing the best timing for repetitions. Optimally, you should work with SuperMemo every day! This way you will not accumulate outstanding material and you will not deviate from the optimum schedule of repetitions!

Your repetitions should proceed daily until the following equivalent conditions are met (if one of these conditions is met, so are the others):

Delaying repetitions is the most likely cause of you having little success with SuperMemo!

Learning stages

On each day, your learning will proceed in three stages:

  1. Repetitions - reviewing material that has been memorized earlier (to make sure you remember it)
  2. Memorizing - if you have time, you can memorize new material by answering Yes to Do you want to learn new material? (this message is suppressed until you memorize first 100 elements) 
  3. Final drill - reviewing material that caused most problems in the first two stages of learning

In incremental reading, within the Repetitions stage you will read new articles and memorize its portions. The role of Memorizing and Final drill in incremental reading is diminished

Frequently Asked Questions

For more answers see: