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How much repetition is needed in order to master something?

When in school, have you ever wondered how many times you have to repeat something, such as solving mathematical equations, before you will master it? Now we have the answer: It is eight (8)!

We have performed a study on data from courses using the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) methodology.  Among other things, OLI courses give constructive feedback after each question. To our own surprise, we came to an astonishingly stable answer. The number of necessary opportunities to practice needs to be eight (this will cover the needs of 98% of the learners). Good news for all learners struggling with tedious homework!

Full open access paper available at

Olle Bälter is an Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction and head of the research group for Technology Enhanced Learning at KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He has been running online courses since 2006 and his research interests are technology enhanced learning and interface design. Since his research visit to Stanford University 2015-2016 he has been working in cooperation with Open Learning Initiative to enable more efficient learning.