How Does Smart Review Work?

Simply put, Smart Review is a spaced repetition tool that helps you remember what you've learned. There are two versions: Quiz Mode (similar to the lessons in the units) and Flash Cards (English to Portuguese translation). Here's a blog post that describes exactly how Smart Review works and how it supports your learning: Smart Review: Learn European Portuguese with Spaced Repetition

Why does the "ready to review" number fluctuate?

As you do review sessions, the system keeps track of your performance.

Each time you get one right, it gradually increases the interval before showing you that phrase again. At first, that interval is very short -- it will show you the phrase again right away to help store it in your memory. Then, when you get it right a second time, it will wait a bit longer before adding it to your review again. 

In the beginning, there will be a lot of phrases due for review because the intervals are still very short. The goal is that eventually you can remember each phrase even if months have passed since you last saw it, indicating that it has made its way into your long-term memory and is truly "Mastered". These increasing intervals are designed to help your memory by showing you the phrase right before your brain would normally forget it, to help keep it "active", in a sense.

Accordingly, the number will never stay at 0 (unless you've fully mastered every single phrase).  Reviewing is an ongoing process, so you will see each phrase many times before it becomes Mastered.

How should I be using Smart Review?

Add phrases to your Smart Review that you find most relevant or helpful. You can add them from the end of the lessons (throughout the Units), Learning Notes, Blog posts, and from the Vocabulary / Expressions tabs of the Shorties, Podcasts, and Videos. You can also search for and add them from the Manage Smart Review page.

Ideally, you should work through the Units slowly and use Smart Review regularly as you go along. Try to get the number due for review down to zero or almost zero before moving on to the next Unit. This doesn't need to be perfect, but we recommend at least checking in with yourself every few Units. Do you feel like you have a good grasp on everything you've learned so far? If not, consider spending some time with Smart Review before doing more new Units.

However, even though this is the "ideal", we realize that it won't work for everyone. That kind of slow, steady pace can feel demotivating for people who learn better by getting a broad overview quickly, and THEN going back to review and fill in the gaps. So always do what's best for you as a learner!

Whether you do it along the way or wait until after you have an overview, it's best to review more consistently, over time, instead of doing occasional marathon sessions to try to get the number down. It's not effective to overload your brain like that! 🤯

How to deal with a large backlog of phrases

One comment we get sometimes is "Ahhhh I have 3000 phrases to review! And the number is going up instead of down!!" Don't worry, this is normal, but we do understand the panic! It's scary to see that many phrases to review and it can be discouraging. 

A backlog forms when you add a lot of phrases, but don't get into the habit of using Smart Review to "review as you go". If you already have a pretty large backlog, don't worry about getting it all the way down to zero. The number itself is not that important, as long as you are finding a way to use Smart Review on a regular basis.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, take the opportunity to look through the Manage Smart Review section. You can remove phrases (so they won't show up in Smart Review) by checking them off and moving them to Mastered (if they are too easy) or Removed (if they just aren't important to you right now). You can always search for and add them back later if you change your mind.

Need a "clean slate"?

If the backlog is really bugging you, you have the option to email us and request that we clear out your Smart Review. This is not reversible and all phrases will be removed.

Or, we can clear ALL of your progress. This includes the Units, Shorties, Verbs, everything. This is also not reversible. It will reset everything from across the whole site, as if you are a brand new member. So we don't normally recommend it unless you're really sure. That said, a lot of people find it very motivating to start from the beginning and strengthen their foundation. You tend to notice lots of details you missed the first time around. 🙂

If you email us to request we clear your progress, please specify whether you'd like to reset everything, or Smart Review only. Thanks!

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