It is a frequent case that a fledgling SuperMemo student, amazed with results obtained by a friend who used the method, embarks on an exceedingly ambitious program of gaining new knowledge. The thing (s)he usually overestimates is his or her own learning capability as well as perseverance. SuperMemo does not guarantee that a student will be successful. It requires some skills and working strategy that develop over a longer period of time. The fact that a student can memorize a myriad of items in a short time does not necessarily mean that the same student will have enough perseverance to sustain repetitions of the newly memorized material. Nor does it indicate that the learned items are properly structured and will be maintained in memory as easily as they have been memorized. Two factors contribute to dangers of immoderation:
Learning speed (knowledge acquisition rate) decreases substantially during the first year of using SuperMemo and the decline is most visible in the first few weeks.
- Learning new material is much more a straightforward process than maintaining the acquired knowledge in memory. Badly structured items reveal their vicious intractability only after several repetitions.
Before starting any extensive process of expanding his knowledge system, it is absolutely necessary that the student examine his ability to:
formulate simple, clear and univocal items (with hardly any exception, absolute beginners are bound to form a great deal of ill-structured items),
- work continually for a longer time with SuperMemo (only the most persistent individuals can sustain memorathons lasting more than 1 hour).
Moderation, and cool judgment of one's needs and capabilities are, therefore, a very important prerequisite of a successful application of SuperMemo. The recommended time of working with SuperMemo is 5-20 minutes a day for beginners, and no more than 1-2 hours a day for advanced students.