An AJATTeer who goes by the nickname AdShap shares his story [edited for spelling, punctuation and privacy…you know hwo it is wtih email]:
I’ve been using your methods for the past year and a half to learn Japanese, and have been for the past semester at law school. I’m the only student in the school who knows what an SRS is (I tried to inform a few close friends, but you know, people don’t like trying new things). Anyway, thanks for the great information, and keep up the great site. What you write does make a difference, so keep it up.
I mean, who wouldn’t have praise for Khatzumoto? Who? Who dare not…
OK, end of ego trip. But, that’s not even the coolest part of AdShap’s personal account. This is:
The SRS is amazing for law school. I had my doubts at first, but after the first semester it gave me top scores. While everyone scrambled towards the end of the semester spending countless hours cramming (cramming for law school exams usually takes place a week or 2 before exams, so maybe cramming is the wrong word), all I had to do was continue my reps and do some practice exams. Watching people create 100s of index cards by hand the week before just seemed like such a waste.
The thing about law school is that you will actually be using the information you learned after you graduate, but most of these people have already forgotten what they learned the past semester, while I have it strongly fixed in my mind as I go into the second semester. Also, since most courses build on each other, I have a serious advantage going into the next semester.
Yea, I start to realize that the less people that use an SRS, the more it makes the people who are using it succeed and look better. If everyone was using an SRS it was just increase competition, so I definitely don’t go around telling people about it.
I never once had to work all night, cram, lose sleep, or over-stress. As long as I kept up with my SRS at a normal pace every day I was fine. It mentally made me feel strong knowing I had such a powerful tool. Of course it worked for me in studying Japanese (I’m up to about 10,100 self-created cards and building) but I had my fears that it wouldn’t work in law school because professors like to say “don’t bother memorizing stuff: it won’t help you succeed in law school.” Shows how little they know! How can you apply what you learn if you don’t firmly know it first?
My first semester I had a writing course which unfortunately I couldn’t use it for since it was just for improving your writing skills. But the other 2 main courses I had, I ended up with about 2600 cards for the semester. This semester I have 4 normal classes in addition to the writing course, so I may end up around 5-6k cards this time around.
I noticed that with all the SRSing you really have to exercise your hands and body. I started to develop a little tendinitis before realizing this.
I use the Anki SRS system and have to say I love it. I think you mentioned you’ve used that as well on your site.
Anyway, good luck with your continuing Cantonese studying and your blog.
AdShap’s story got me thinking about this discussion on the SuperMemo website, on the issue of data vs. information vs. knowledge vs. wisdom. The author makes a very convincing case for the value of memorization and the dishonesty of the current “we don’t test rote memorization, we test reasoning” fad that’s got its fingers stuck in all the orifices of schooling in America and many other countries. That the SuperMemo article used flight as a metaphor is quite pertinent in light of recent aviation events (thanks beneficii!).
Update: AdShap very kindly shares a sample of his SRS items.