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

The button Learn (bottom-left in the picture) makes it possible to learn the material stored in SuperMemo.

SuperMemo: The element window displaying an extract produced from a larger article titled Chloroplast imported from Wikipedia

Repetition cycle

When you press Learn, SuperMemo will ask you to make repetitions (i.e. review due material). In each repetition you will 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.) (see: grade descriptions)
  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.



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

Great (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. If you stick to the rules of SuperMemo, you should rarely or never need this grade. This is why it is not displayed on the standard grade panel. To issue that grade, use the keyboard.

Grading tips:

Regular repetitions are the key to success with SuperMemo

In SuperMemo you first memorize the material and then review 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:

Learning stages

Each day, your learning will proceed in three stages:

  1. Repetitions - reviewing material that has been memorized earlier (to make sure you do not forget 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 your first 100 elements)
  3. Final drill - reviewing material that caused most problems in the first two stages of learning (Skip final drill must be unchecked in Tools : Options : Learning)

Incremental learning

Once you master the above basic learning process, you should consider learning about incremental learning.

The main differences between classical SuperMemo, as described above, and incremental learning:

As incremental learning is rather complex, you should first sense the power of SuperMemo by mastering the basic learning process as described on this page.

Further reading