How do breaks in learning affect the repetition schedule and priority queue in SuperMemo?

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From: bill
Sent: Apr 09, 2011, 19:02:26
Subject: Do I have to keep up with the schedule and workload supermemo set for me?

Question:

I am not clear on what Supermemo does to the repetition spacing, priority queue, etc. when there have been long periods between use of SuperMemo.

Answer:

If you stick with the default settings, the following apply:

  • The priority queue does not change
  • A portion of your outstanding material gets automatically postponed. This way intervals get longer.

If you takes breaks from learning, you will learn less. However, the damage does not go beyond "less time spent on learning". If you skip every second day, you will roughly learn half as much (assuming the same use time per day). Due to the spacing effect and tiredness, your overall efficiency might even be slightly higher. At the same time, you may lose a bit on routine and mnemonic training. You might then spend 50% less time learning, but learn only, say, 47% less. (wild guess)

Summary: Do not be afraid of breaks in learning. However, like with other things in life, it is better to be regular, consistent, and systematic.