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Why is "practice" so heavily weighted to open units?

The "practice" mode is useless for review as it draws overwhelmingly from active (unfinished) units, instead of picking from old (gold) units. This is annoying for a number of reasons:

  1. If I wanted to work on unfinished units, I'd just work toward finishing them.
  2. It means the only way to review old (gold) units is to select them individually for practice, but it's hard to do that evenly.
  3. If I've just started a new unit (with it at a low level) the algorithm seems to select it most often for 'practice', but of course I barely know this stuff yet having just started into it.

Wouldn't it make the most sense for 'practice' to do pretty much the opposite of what it seems to be doing, having you review 'stale' content before you forget it, rather than the stuff you've currently working on?

June 12, 2019



Agree 100% and for this reason I no longer use the practice option. No one else has ever commented on this so I presumed it was mine just not working correctly. It is not a major problem as I just make sure i evenly practice finished gold units. It could be a good tool though if it did the opposite to what it seems to do now. It should only test you on finished units and not ones that are currently 'work in progress'. By no means is this a moan though. absolutely love Duolingo and really appreciate how good this site is, thanks to all involved :-)


I agree that practice doesn't do what I need it too, reviewing past lessons. I mean I am practicing the open lessons right now so that you be like "Learn" rather than a practice which should be "Review". I still use it when I forget about my streak though.


I love the way the Practice button currently works, it is better then it has ever been before.

Previously, the original post-Crowns Practice button was pretty much a waste. It just drew from really really old material like "El hombre".

It now allows me to practice and level up on all my skills that I am currently working on. It's great because I can randomize what I'm learning and not get hung up on one skill.

The need to practice old lessons is not really necessary with Crowns anyway. If you "hover" over a lot of skills like Duolingo recommends, it can take weeks to bring each individual skill up to Level 5. By that time, the skill is most likely in your long term memory, and it's only necessary to practice that skill very rarely, if at all.


I'm thinking it's the move to the percent-based progress system that's turned the 'practice' button from a mechanism for review into a mechanism for course progression.

Having a course like Spanish with +160 units, where there's now no means of reviewing old material besides going back through it manually a unit at a time, is a really big problem. By contrast, there's never been any difficulty or confusion about how to progress through the course, so building that into 'practice' seems redundant and solving a problem nobody had.


I agree with your strategy, Michael. I'm also gradually getting older levels up to Level 4 so I can still go back for ovcasional practice after I finish the tree.


Looks like they are trying to find the right balance for it, as before it was weighted the other way, and tended to draw from starting material too much (because you haven't practiced it the longest, but it didn't consider that you didn't practice the most basic stuff because you no longer need to practice it).


I don't do practice sessions when I have any skills at less than level 3: then the practices are more old material than new. That is working well for me.


I was turned off a little when the skill strength bars were taken away, and the crowns don't show how long since I've practiced older lessons. However while I also thought the general practice was "broken" I think it merely puts a lot more emphasis on newer/unfinished topics, and doesn't completely forget about older lessons like you think. I've found that the first few completions will always draw upon the most recent things I've learned (trying to help keep it in short-term memory or something I guess). However after a couple runs I'll start getting older things I haven't practiced in a while. Of course, if you only do 1-3 practices a day you'll only ever see the newer content unfortunately. Try doing a few more maybe and see if you start getting older stuff pop up.


This does seem to work. Thanks. I also got all skills to at least level 2 not sure if that helps.


It does? What makes you think so? I thought it was just based on your own words list and the “oldest” words (although there is clearly a glitch in that some words pertain to units they have since deleted so they never get renewed with the practice button). If it only focused on unfinished units then what happens when you complete them all? I also find it’s giving me better more difficult content in recent weeks.


I have 5 lessons open right now, and 40 completed (gold) in Spanish. As an experiment I just selected 'practice without timer' and 15/20 questions that came up were from those 5 open units.

If I select 'practice' on one of those 40 completed units I'll quickly come across words I haven't seen in months, despite doing the global practice quite often.

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