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Frustrations with Timed Practice

The timed practice feature doesn't really live up to it's potential. Here are 4 issues that could be fixed to make it better.

The main problem is that all answers are given the same time reward/extension no matter how difficult the question. The result is success has more to do with if you're lucky enough to get easy questions than your ability to answer them. This is very demoralizing.

For example questions that are just identifying a character take less than 1 second to answer. But questions that involve translating a sentence can easily take 5 or 10s. Especially if you're writing Chinese with the keyboard. But both give the same reward/time extension.

If you get translations in a row from the start, you're pretty much dead after that. But if you get a few character identification questions at the start of a practise, you're set and can sail through to then end.

I suggest it should be changed so the time reward/extension follow something like this:

  • Character and sound identification questions: 5s reward

  • Matching questions: 8s reward

  • Translating ZH->EN: 12s reward

  • Translating EN->ZH with word bank: 12s reward

  • Translating EN->ZH with keyboard: 15s reward

The second major issue is that the time continues to count down between questions. You answer a question, you get rewarded, the time should stop until the next question is displayed. You shouldn't be penalized for trying to look at the result. The timing to test our speed of answering not our speed of hitting enter through the system. Alternately it should auto-advance; though I think pausing the timer between questions is the best solution. This would be very helpful when you made a mistake and want to understand what you did wrong.

The third issue, when the time runs the system automatically advances to the end screen. It's annoying because you want to have a look at that last question. The system should wait until you hit enter at the end -- like everywhere else in the system.

Finally, the matching questions should reward you for each match rather than waiting until you've matched them all. Nothing is worse than when you have one pair left but time runs out. You feel cheated.

Thank you and keep up the great work!

(Also, change the flag for English, no one associates the US with the English language. Use the British flag, that would make much more sense.)

March 7, 2018



Agreed, I'm having that issue with Spanish, as when I tried to report an issue, I ran out of time and couldn't even report it ;-;

It is a feature still in development though, and it is a good one, maybe Duolingo should take a leaf from Memrise's book for the timer questions.


大家好! I'm not a fan of "fast-food learning." I love having fun while learning, but if I am going to make additional msitakes because I'm rushing, then what is the goal of the exercise? I tried the "timed exercises" twice, and didn't see how it would enhance my learning patterns. What I do, however, is practice repeating both sides of short, real-life conversations between two native Chinese people. For this, I go to the "Immersion Modules" exercises in “Hello Chinese”. They are a lot of fun and I pick up actual vernacular spoken in "everyday-Chinese." There a hundred of those, and it never gets boring!

That's my point: let's have fun . . . otherwise, additional frustrations that pertain to the construction of an app will make you tense, and how can you learn well when you're tense, as if waiting for the second shoe to drop?


I like the timed practices because I find that they are more fun than regular practises. It's gamification at it's best. Working against the clock to challenge yourself: can you do it? Or at least that is what it would be if they made the changes.

The timed practices are great for reviewing to confirm that you've deeply internalized what you've learnt. Pretty the opposite of "fast-food learning". It's about confirmation. But to each their own.

I use "Hello Chinese" as well too but I don't care for their "Immersion Modules"; plus I don't think they are good value for money. For me, my learning is Duolingo+Hello Chinese for basic grammar and vocab. Then Skritter for writing practise and SRS functionality. Cartoons like 大耳朵图图 on youtube for listening comprehension. And a tutor from italki, my colleagues, and WeChat for conversation and everyday slang.


Very interesting! A language challenge against the clock actually drives me bats, because crafting a sentence correctly might offer more than one way of typing it down , and then the clock runs out! But I love the quick fire of radical- or character-only-recognition certain apps have. I am thinking of Pandanese, for instance, you might love that app because it lets you go as fast as you wish, it's a brand new app, does'nt have a clock yet, but you can run the cards very fast.


Great points, and I agree with all of them! Except for the flag thing. Europeans probably associate English most with the UK, but for everyone in the Americas and a good part of the rest of the world, it's most associated with the US. The US also has a much larger media presence than the UK does, as well as higher immigration and of course a much larger population. I think it makes sense to have the US flag represent English.

Now the flag they should really change is the Spanish one - it should be the Mexican flag, especially since the Spanish icon is a Mesoamerican pyramid!


Thank you! I wanted to say the same! And let me finish the last question even if the time ran out, come on! Still not solved, so I thought I leave a comment.


I live in a country with slow internet so I'm being penalised because the timer continues when it takes upwards of 10 seconds to load the next question.

So, if it's possible to stop the timer until the question loads, that would be very helpful (and certainly less frustrating).

Many thanks!

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