Home Psychology Ultralearning

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Listen in 27 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Scott Young


Shorten the time it takes to learn absolutely anything

“Ultralearners” are people who learn extraordinary skills in a short time. Each one of them is different, each has their own project, but they all have learning techniques in common, and examples of them can be of help to anyone who has a strong desire to obtain new skills. The Ultralearning method shows us nine key principles for learning difficult subjects quickly and effectively. It is not an easy method, it requires effort and sacrifice, but the results justify both the effort and commitment, and can be so stimulating that they make you want to never stop learning.

Read in 21 min.
Listen in 27 min.

You can have a university education without needing to attend university

Scott Young studied business and economics, but once he graduated, he realised he hadn’t chosen the right path and wanted to study computer science. The idea of enrolling at university again and spending another four years of his life in that environment didn’t appeal to him one bit, so he thought to himself that there must be a better way to learn something he was interested in.

After doing some research, he began what he called "the MIT challenge" (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. The challenge was to complete the computer science study program, and pass all the exams of the four year course in one year. He won the challenge he set himself and from that moment on he became unstoppable.

The project he had just completed gave him a huge boost of confidence in himself and he realised that university is not the only place you can learn. This achievement aroused his curiosity and he decided to find out what other skills he could learn and how far he could take this new-found learning method.

The new challenge, which he developed with his roommate, was called “A year without speaking English”. The idea was to move to a new country and learn a new language every three months. The two set strict rules that they had to abide by, and the main one was never to speak English, not even to each other. The experiment worked: in one year, they learned Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Korean (they didn’t quite learn the last two at such an expert level as the first two, but they were still proficient enough to be able to travel and converse on various topics).

Since the Ultralearning method worked with information technology and languages, the author felt sure that it could also be used in other areas. He experimented with drawing, and also in this field he was able to obtain excellent results in just one month. As a result Scott Young came up with the idea of putting together the characteristics and strategies of people who dedicate themselves to ultra-learning, namely of all those people who, with commitment, effort, planning (and enthusiasm!) engage in new learning challenges, without setting themselves any restrictions.


The key ideas of "Ultralearning"

You can have a university education without needing to attend university
Ultralearning is an autonomous and intensive method for acquiring new skills and knowledge, which has many advantages, but it is not designed to be easy and fun!
Metalearning can help us create a roadmap to our end goal so that we don’t get lost on the way
We need to learn to concentrate quickly and intensely and be able to maintain that concentration
Having direct experience, or spending a lot of time doing the thing we want to become proficient at
Attacking our weakest point and focussing on a particular skill can make a difference
It is easier to retrieve than to review: we can push ourselves to find the information in our minds instead of from an external source
Ultralearners learn quickly because they look for immediate, precise and intense feedback
Ultralearners develop strategies that help them remember, because they know that our natural tendency is to forget the things we learn
To strengthen our intuition we need to know how to show that we have understood the concepts we have studied
Exploring and experimenting are the secrets to true mastery, as we learned from the story of Van Gogh
Take-home message
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