Learning topics and items

Knowledge elements in SuperMemo may have a form of:

  • topic, which is a synthetic presentation of part of the learning material

  • item, which is a particular test or exercise taking part in the learning process.

Topics, unlike items, are used to review the learning material, but do not take part in repetitions scheduled by SuperMemo (this comes from the so-called minimum information principle that is crucial for effectiveness of learning with the SuperMemo speed-learning technology used in SuperMemo).

Items present simple stimulus-response pairs used in the learning process conducted along the SuperMemo method. They are not very useful if you review the material; however, they are basic for the effective learning process.

When you choose the button Learn, you will be asked to practise all items that SuperMemo deems necessary for sustaining your memory traces. These will only be those items that must be repeated for you to remember. In other words, SuperMemo will try to minimize the number of repetitions to make sure you spend as little time for learning as it is only necessary to keep the material in memory.

If there are no items that require refreshing your memory, SuperMemo will ask you if you want to learn new elements: Do you want to learn new material? If you respond with yes, you will commit new items to your memory in the sequence they are stored in the so-called pending queue.

Once you commit new items, it will be SuperMemo that will determine the dates of subsequent repetitions, not you! That is one of the requirement of the SuperMemo method. For that reason, it is recommended that you choose the option Learn : All or choose the button Learn as regularly as possible (preferably, once every day).

To commit items to memory you can choose one of the three methods:

  1. choosing the button Learn. This will make you successively memorize all items of a given knowledge system in the logical sequence of the entire course.

  2. choosing the button Review at the moment you find an interesting topic in the browsing process. If the topic you have on the screen is of special interest for you, by clicking Review you will memorize all items related to that topic.

  3. choosing the button Commit at the moment you find an interesting item in the browsing process. Unlike Review, Commit will make you memorize only the currently displayed item.
    Note that with Commit you can also memorize topics. However, you will probably find it quite annoying to watch whole video scenes during repetitions as in Video English. After all, learning speed is the primary advantage of using SuperMemo, while video scenes include a great deal of silent material which you do not want to listen to again and again. This silent material is useful only when you review the entire scene with all its phrases placed in the proper situational context.

During repetitions, if you wish to review the parent topic of the repeated item, click the double up-arrow button on the navigation toolbar.

Depending on your grades in the learning process, particular items will be asked more or less frequently. This is why SuperMemo will make sure that you do not waste time on reviewing material you already know.

Important: On a given day, the learning process is complete only when the Outstanding parameter in the Statistics window displays 0+0. To bring up the statistics window, press F5. The window will be placed on the left side of the screen.