The goldilocks level for reviews per 10 sentences?

The drive of this question is to aim for a well managed steady state of new words/reviews

Does anyone know of the perfect review vs new ratio that ends up in a roughly steady state?

My back of the packet maths (or math if you’re the other side of the pond) tells me if I learn 1000 new per year, I’ll see each sentence 5 times in the year, plus one review from last year’s 1000 sentences, plus (on average) one more review from all previous years, assuming there is approximately a doubling of interval each time. Which means I need about an 8 reviews per 10 sentences value, probably increasing to 9 long term?

On top of that I probably need to set a max reviews per day of roughly 7 times my target new words per day (ie for every 1000 new a year I want, set about 20 max reviews per day).

The other thing that may simplify things for the lazy-just-click-next of us would be a way of marking collections as active and doing a “play all” where you get a selection of new and review from everything active - maybe a mix of fast track, grammar challenges, common words.

I don’t mean to be rude. Just let me say: You’re massively overthinking this.

Just play 100 sentences a day with the default settings (which takes you at most 10 minutes), and free yourself of this overthinking baggage. I consider 100 sentences a day the bare minimum because even then, it will take you forever to become fluent. Again, this will take you at most 10 minutes, especially if you “lazy-just-click-next” rather than typing the word yourself or transcribing audio.

Side note: If you play the “Most Common Words” collections rather than the Fast Fluency Track, then each new word has many repetitions (in a good, desirable way), not just because you have to review each sentence at least three times before it counts as mastered (same as with the Fluency Fast Track), but also because multiple sentences teach the same word. So even if you don’t review that particular sentence in the next few days, you will nonetheless review the unfamiliar word in it, just in a different sentence, because the same word occurs in multiple sentences.

Just use the “Play” button with default settings, and whenever you’re overwhelmed by reviews because too many reviews have accrued due to adding ever more new words, then simply use the “Review” button for a while instead of the “Play” button until the workload is no longer overwhelming. Simple as that.

Just do the required work and stop worrying about a “perfect ratio” or planning years ahead. Again, I’m not trying to be rude, just trying to help you.


Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I meant per 1000 words to make sums easy, it should scale I think. Funnily enough my main use is actually radio mode while out cutting the hedges (or whatever) which doesn’t even count :slight_smile:

The hidden driver behind all this is really when I went to set myself a daily target to aim for. I actually aim for a number of sentences per day rather than the streak thing, currently 50 a day. I was wondering firstly if it would reach a steady state once it levels out, not spending x months doing too many new ones so I then end up doing mostly reviews and few new ones. My guess is about 8 reviews per 10 sentences would prevent this. Then secondly how many words a year this would mean, as a rough steer on if it’s enough / too much compared to other things I do.

For reference my personal daily usage is half a dozen Duolingo things, a few dreaming Spanish videos, a few Memrise videos, 50 clozes etc, I tend to aim for a variety, probably 30 mins of active learning max, plus quite a lot of passive. That’s also the other driver for the “just play next”… if I have a spare minute to do a round, it just automatically “does the right thing”…

I can only repeat myself.

You should focus on input rather than on outcome. In other words, focus on how many minutes a day you’re able or willing to study rather than how many new words you want to know after a certain time.

Hoping–even planning–for a outcome and then not achieving it will only cause frustration.

Dreaming about how many new words you will have mastered one year from now when you’re unable/unwilling to increase your daily practice time even just an additional 5 minutes (from 5 minutes to 10 minutes) is, in my honest opinion, a waste of time.

No, it won’t reach a “steady state”, at least not by itself, since Clozemaster does not allow you to set the reviews per round to more than 50% (assuming you’re viewing 100 sentences per round, which is the maximum, short of infinite rounds). That is just enough to catch up with the sentences you studied yesterday. As you figured out yourself, you need more than 5 reviews per 10 sentences to reach a “steady state”. You can’t get around accruing a massive pile of reviews by way of tweaking the settings (see third option further down below for details).

You have only two options to solve your problem.

First option:

Second option:

Play two collections in parallel.

For example: As you near the end of the ‘100 most common words’ collection, and there are no more new sentences left to play, only reviews, you can start the next collection (‘500 most common words’) in parallel so that you get new ‘new words’ while you’re still finishing the reviews.

As I said, this isn’t possible in Clozemaster by tweaking the settings, even if you practice every single day (which, looking at your profile, you don’t; no offense, just assessing the reality). If you’re not showing up every single day, there is no way around “doing mostly reviews and few new ones”. There is no shortcut or magic pill that removes the necessity of doing the daily work required to learn a language.

Since you cannot solve the problem you’re trying to solve by tweaking settings or finding a “perfect ratio”, there’s no need for thinking about a “perfect ratio”.

What you probably want to hear @agherdoo (a third option):

In the web browser, you can go to “Review settings” and there change the value for “Max reviews per round” to something between 40 and the maximum value 50 (which will give you your desired 8, 9 or 10 reviews per 10 sentences).

If you then play a collection, choose “50” as value for “Sentences per round”.

Since 40 is 80% of 50, you can have your 8 reviews and 2 new sentences per 10 sentences. But this is possible only if you play rounds of 50 sentences. I find rounds of 100 sentences more convenient than rounds of 50 sentences, but since Clozemaster doesn’t let us choose values higher than 50 for “Max reviews per round”, we cannot do the 80/20 split if we play rounds of 100 sentences. With rounds of 100 sentences per round, we can only do 50/50 splits or worse (X/Y where X is lower than Y) which makes the reviews accrue, since we’re always adding more new sentences than we review old sentences.

@mike: It would be nice if we could choose higher values than “50” for “Max reviews per round” when we are playing 100 sentences per round so that we can avoid making the review pile ever bigger, because we’re “biting off more new sentences than we can chew”. Then we wouldn’t have to fall back to the workarounds I called “option 1” and “option 2”.

Related: Max reviews per round should be a percentage - #3 by kadrian

If you want to achieve “a well managed steady state of new words/reviews” I would give a few basic tips (these are things I wish I had done at the beginning) in descending order of importance:

  1. Enable “review fuzz” in your review settings. Even with a meticulously planned routine, the crests of your review waves will sometimes overlap and amplify into massive local peaks, meaning you have days with tons of reviews, and days with none. Review fuzz will spread these out by small increments to avoid this issue.

  2. Start slow and ramp up. Set a daily goal, do it for a week or two, then increase your goal the next week, and so on, while checking in on your review forecast in “more stats” to get a sense of what your upcoming weeks look like. This is a very long term pursuit. It won’t become clear to you how to tweak things to work with your learning style for many months and your needs will change as you advance. 3-6 months to ramp up to your long term daily goal (assuming it is ambitious enough to make real language progress) seems reasonable to me. Since you will have an ever increasing number of reviews, front-loading a lot of clozes at the beginning will cause an avalanche of reviews later. Then if you miss a few days the pile can become intimidating. The periodic nature of spaced repetition means that until you are working on a large pool of sentences with different review dates, there won’t be a lot of regularity in the daily ratio. By ramping up, you will get a feel for things slowly and be able to tweak settings and workload down the line without creating too much of a mess from your experimentation.

  3. Prioritize reviews. If you don’t get the reviews done promptly when they are due, you are defeating the spaced repetition schedule. That’s why I personally just use the review mode to do all (or 90%) my reviews first before I play new sentences. This makes the whole question of the max reviews per session moot. I know some people use the “play” mode exclusively but in my experience I’m not able to keep up with reviews this way.

Unless you are just interested in solving complex Operational Research problems and you already understand everything about how the site works, trying to solve this in advance is probably not going to be as effective as you imagine. You will develop preferences organically while you are learning.

I also use Duolingo and one thing I notice about those who win the competitive “leagues” there is that they are frequently users who did dozens of lessons that week and that week only, but didn’t use the site for months or years before and can’t maintain a streak. This is not a long term strategy for improving at language, and they will forget most of what they learned when they can’t maintain that ambitious pace on a daily basis. Slow and steady wins the race. Language learning is a life long endeavor.

Good luck.


I don’t agree with all of the advice in this thread. The most important thing for learning a language is to spend a lot of time engaging with it in a productive way on a regular basis. And one subset of being productive is constantly exposing yourself to new vocabulary. You’ll need to know many thousands of words to even have a rudimentary conversational level, and you’ll only obtain that in a reasonable timeframe if you’re giving yourself the chance to discover hundreds of new words per month. Do not hold back on doing new sentences out of fear of what it will do to your review schedule in the future, and do not worry about completing all of your reviews unless you are really struggling with the material. Doing new sentences will organically give you plenty of repetition of many of the words, and you can move sentences to custom collections if they have words that really deserve extra attention.

Your learning patterns will need to regularly adjust over time to match your current needs, and you can’t really plan ahead for it. You’ll get so much passive exposure to most vocabulary that you won’t need to actively practice it again once you’ve mastered it. Your long-term goal should be to attain a good enough level that you can just start using the language in the real world and phase out all of your training and practice.

Good points - particularly as I’m using other tools too, I possibly want to just destress about reviews a bit and just get through as much as possible.

The thing I’ve always loved about Clozemaster is that the sentences are simply more memorable than the brain numbing “my pig ate lunch yesterday” rubbish you get on duo. When trudging behind the lawnmower gems like “Don’t ever compare your wife to another woman” in radio mode just keep you going.

What would be be really, really cool @mike is if radio mode could listen for trigger words like “translate” “repeat” “explain” or “slower” and then do just that over audio. Especially for those horrible sentences like
“I already told you that she isn’t here” where there isn’t any hard language as such, just a brain fry to figure out who’s doing/done what to who and when, particularly in Spanish where many small joiner words just roll into each other. You could then motor through loads of sentences in TL only, and drill in on ones you can’t figure out in a couple of seconds.

My settings are 8 reviews per 10 sentences, next review fuzz turned on, and 100% mastered sentences are never seen again. Everyone has their own style, but this works for me to keep progressing at a steady pace while keeping the review count from getting out of control.

@seveer made some good points.

This is exactly true for me, too. This is what I meant with my “option 3” and what I’ve been trying to convey the whole time. You (currently) cannot tweak the settings so that you can use the “Play” button exclusively and still keep up with your reviews, at least not when you’re playing rounds of 100 sentences.

It’s also why I’m so opposed to what @agherdoo is trying to accomplish:


I myself use the “Review” button much more than I use the “Play” button. Because:

There is no such thing as a singular “perfect ratio”. Because even if you do exactly the same number of new sentences per day, the number of reviews still varies from day to day, because sometimes you get words wrong and you have to do them again the next day instead of the previously scheduled day, which inevitably means that on some days you’ll have more reviews to do than on other days. Meaning every day has a different ratio.

Like @seveer says: First get all your reviews done. Once you’ve cleared all reviews, you can then think about adding new sentences. Everything else defeats the spaced repetition algorithm.

But if your daily target is only 50 sentences, you will never get to do any new sentences (because the reviews alone will already outnumber the 50 sentences) while sticking to a sustainable and effective strategy.

If you then still have time to do some more Clozemaster:

If you have accrued so many reviews or you invest too little time into Clozemaster to get all your reviews done in your alotted Clozemaster time, then you won’t be using the “Play” button for quite some time. That’s just how it is.

You (@agherdoo) will either have to learn when to stop using the “Play” button and go back to using the “Review” button (because you’re overwhelmed by the daily time required to clear all reviews), or you’ll have to invest much more time into Clozemaster than you currently do.

There is certainly evidence that plenty of exposure, even if you don’t understand or retain everything, is a great way to learn. However, if you are taking a holistic approach to learning, clozemaster is only one of many tools you will be using. And this tool is designed for spaced repetition on a schedule. You can certainly choose to subvert one of its most powerful functions, I just think it’s sub-optimal (like using a screwdriver as a crowbar), when you could be getting that kind of exposure in other more effective ways. When I want to get random exposure I listen, watch, or read material in the target language, where it contains far more context than a cloze. (Bonus Tip: I then put the new vocabulary I’ve seen in a cloze collection named after the book, movie, etc, which often requires creating brand new clozes. The process is time consuming but worth it, as you are creating a powerful network of mental associations from your experience.) When I want to build grammar intuition, I use Duolingo. When I want to study conjugations I use Conjuguemos. When I want to form visual associations I use BaBaDum. And there are many others. I’m just advocating a “right tool for the right job” approach.

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There is a lot that could said here, but I’ll just point out that if you’re recommending people to enable review fuzz then you surely understand that the exact spacing of the repetitions is not nearly as important as you’re making it sound when you insist upon completing every review exactly on its due date. If people want to learn a language as quickly and efficiently as possible then they should study it as much as possible whenever possible, even if they aren’t able to commit to spending the same amount of time every day. Falling behind in reviews is not a big deal. Backlogs can be cleared pretty quickly if you stop adding new sentences, and for some collections it will be better not to do them at all if you already know most of the words reasonably well.

Planning for the future is nice, but not if it’s causing you to limit how much time you’re spending on the language. People should not be afraid to jump in and do lots of new sentences. If you’re struggling with those words then you can stop adding new sentences and focus on the reviews. If it all seems really easy after a week then you can stop playing that collection entirely and jump up to the next level. The most important thing is to keep putting in time and allow yourself the flexibility to adjust your routine based on the results you’re seeing.

Same here. I always start my session with a batch of just reviews. I play with a personal target of doing x reviews in a day.

Not least because health issues means I can only do short streaks, so many reviews will have become due when I’m able to return.

I’ve also set 100% mastered to ‘never’ repeat. Otherwise, I’d have a several reviews a day of words that I (hopefully) know reasonably well. (And if I get significantly better, I’d have nothing but words I already know)