Mastering Flashcards?


Just out of curiosity, when can I expect to start seeing some of my smart review cards move into the “Mastered” category? How does the algorithm decide when it’s time?


I would like to add to this question and ask PP to provide a more detailed description of how the spaced repetition works. For each category (including Mastered): how long are the repeat intervals, how many correct repeats are needed to move to the next category, what re-categorisation happens when a sentence is marked as incorrect etc. Indeed it would be helpful if the review card itself shows what will happen to this particular sentence if it is marked as correct or as incorrect. This will allow the learner to fine tune their learning focus. For example you might get everything correct except the gender and choose to mark it as correct knowing that it will be returned for testing again in the reasonably near future etc. ie absorbing genders over a longer period.

I believe that spaced repetition is the most efficient way to absorb so much information. Smart Review is the best implementation that I have ever seen. Thank you so much - I would never be able to learn this language without it !

Incidentally I also use spaced repetition for listening practice both with Shorties and other material. It’s quite easy to implement using a spreadsheet with a row for each item including a link to the material, an adjustable repetition frequency and a calculation of the date it should next be reviewed. It’s best done with Macros but the functionality can be achieved with copying and pasting the values only from the calculation of the next review date.

Thank you for such awesome material !



Hi, I think the flash cards are brilliant, I have no idea how often I have to get them right to move them to a different category but I generally don’t mind. I use them almost every day, they are amongst the first things I do each day. I am pretty tough with myself so if I get the gender wrong or miss out a definite article etc I usually mark myself as incorrect, so it probably takes ages to move from one category to the next. One of the advantages of taking this line is that it does make me concentrate on pronunciation too, including the rhythm and cadences within the phrase.
I am impressed with the idea of using spaced repetition with the shorties but know that would overwhelm me.
Thanks team for a great learning resource

1 Like

Haha it’s not that scary - it’s just diarising time to study them. Listening practice is important to be able to understand what people are saying to you. But it is so difficult to give up precious learning time on units to make room for it, especially since it is so unstructured and with little immediate feedback. Each to our own I guess.


@Ken1000 and @Paul_C Sorry for the very delayed response! Your question must have slipped through the cracks.

Here’s more detail about how Smart Review / spaced repetition works:

Each card has its own “path” – the time until you see that card again increases every time you get it right and decreases every time you get it wrong. At the beginning, it repeats again after just a few minutes, then a few hours, then a few days, then a few weeks, then a few months. The final level is when 6 months have passed and you still get that card correct. Then it is considered Mastered.

It’s up to personal preference how harsh you want to be when grading yourself, but I would say when in doubt, anytime you feel like you aren’t confident with a phrase, mark it as incorrect. For example, even if I get a phrase correct, if it took me a very long to think of the translation, I usually mark it incorrect because I know I need more repetition at that time. I wouldn’t want to wait even longer before seeing that phrase again because I think I would probably have forgotten by then.

But if it was just a minor mistake, I might mark it right. For example, if I translated it easily and probably would have been understood if I said that in real life, but just a definite article was missing, I would probably mark it right.

So it all depends on what your goals are. If you’re more focused on just getting your point across in a conversation, then be a little more lenient or only mark it wrong if it was so wrong that a listener would have been confused. But if you want to get better at the details, lean toward marking it wrong more often.

You can always change the levels on your Manage Smart Review page, if they don’t seem to match up to where you’re at. And just yesterday we added the ability to mark phrases as Mastered from the end of a lesson or Smart Review. That way if you already know it perfectly, you don’t have to wait for it to get all the way through the cycle. You can also add phrases to your Smart Review from the Shorties, Videos, Learning Notes, Blog posts, etc., or by searching on the Manage page.

Let me know if you have any other questions after reading those documents and I’ll try to respond much more quickly this time!


How I agree Molly.
I am not daunted by the numbers of phrases on the flash cards, 2300 or so, which confront me each day. So I tend to be tough on myself. I also only manually remove simple items as mastered such as o a sim nao nada.
Repetition is the name of my game and I often also look at a complicated phrase and try to simplfy it and then check its validity via the translate function
And I believe that it is paying dividends.
In May I am flying to Porto, then driving to Coimbra for 3 nights , a few days later my favourite European City, Lisbon for 4 days and then a week in Olhao on the Algarve.
Time will tell how well I do in Portuguese. When I was near Tavira last September the staff in my favourite resto, Fialho, did comment on my use of the lingo but I think that they were just being nice given that I have known them for 25 years or so. And in Loule a restaurant with no English at all served us what I asked for. But no complacency. Comprehension of the spoken word is still the greatest difficulty

1 Like

Thanks Molly !

This does remove some of the mystery, many thanks. Your recent changes also help. But have you ever thought of putting on the card besides where you mark it with a tick or cross how soon it will get repeated for each of those actions ? While you may need to use the mysterious spaced repetition formula to calculate those options, why not leave it to the responsible learner to make an informed choice ?

I am currently going through the most frequent 5000 PT words in frequency order and use a simple spread sheet for the spaced repetition. For the next testing of the word I simply enter the next one up from the following list: today 1 2 5 11 22 55 110, promoting or demoting depending on how well I remember it. It works well.

Thanks Ken, we will definitely consider this. We’ve been hesitant to include that information in the past because many people are overwhelmed by the details and we wanted to keep the review experience pretty straightforward/simplified (leaving the complexity “behind the scenes”). But I can certainly see how having that information would be helpful for those who understand the complexity and want more manual control. Perhaps it’s something we could offer as an option.