TIL: Ultralearning, by Scott Young

Ultralearning is a book from Scott Young. He spent time learning a lot. Like spending 1 year in 4 non-English countries, each country in 3 months, to learn speaking foreign languages.

Make a metalearning map

Design your goals and scopes. Determine exactly what you want at the end. Spend the first 10% of time to answer:

  • What concepts do I need to understand?
  • What facts do I have to memorize?
  • What procedures do I need to practice?

Draw 3 columns on paper: Concepts to understand. Facts to memorize. Procedures to practice.

Design grills

Drill: Be ruthless in improving your weakest points. Break down complex skill into smaller parts; then master those parts and build them back together again.

− Scott Young

Once you’ve created a list of things you need to understand, memorize, and practice; circle a few items on your list that you think will be challenging to learn and critical to your success. Use your remaining 10% planning time to research and design grills for the items you’ve circled.


Learn one level above the level you want to learn. For example, if you are learning Machine Learning 101, try to learn both Machine Learning 101 and 102.

Another way to embrace overlearning is to overperform.


I'm Oliver Nguyen. A software maker working mostly in Go and JavaScript. I enjoy learning and seeing a better version of myself each day. Occasionally spin off new open source projects. Share knowledge and thoughts during my journey. Connect with me on , , , and .

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