How to Cram

By greenteapanda

June 29, 2007

Category: Education

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Today I had a practice final exam in my comprehensive class. The exam was similar in form to the actual final, but used vocabulary and grammar from previous books in the series of Chinese textbooks we use.

Unlike my previous exams in Chinese classes, the vocabulary knowledge was not limited to only knowing the definitions. It also relied on knowing typical collocations. For example, imagine that one of the words to learn is "tall."

The exam would have problems to solve, like "tall _____" and "_____ tall". You can say something like "tall person", but it isn’t normal to say "tall stick" (it would be better to say "long stick"). Likewise, it would be OK to say "very tall", but it would not be normal to say "completely tall".

So the problem is how to learn all of these collocations correctly in time for the final. If I write out flashcards, it will take a lot of time. If I use a computer program, there is often the problem that cards get tested at random. Something I have already learned by heart will come up again and again, wasting time and not focusing my mind on the things I have yet to learn.

Thus, I was glad to learn that there are several programs available, including two free Java programs that run on multiple platforms:
jMemorize
Mnemosyne
And then the paid one, but revered by come people on the Net:
SuperMemo (unfortunately only Windows, Palm, and PocketPC versions, with a steep learning curve)

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