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Scrabbling for Mastery

a patzer's journey

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The study regimen
me again
I think I might have mentioned that I'm sick of not knowing the dictionary. I really dislike when an opponent plonks down a bingo and I have to wonder about whether I should know it or not. The obvious solution is, of course, to learn every single word, so that's what I'm going to do. (OWL for now.)

I started a new regimen immediately after the NSC and I will have made a complete pass through all the OWL 2-8s by the next NSC. I've learned all the 2-5s already, so those are just review. For the 6-8s, I'm breaking them up in groups of 100 to learn each day; 6s by playability, 7s and 8s by probability. Fortunately there are fewer than 36,500 of each length so it will take less than a year. Here's the breakdown:

6s: 15,788 words = 158 days
7s: 24,029 words = 241 days
8s: 29,766 words = 298 days

It's nice that the number of words allows me to skip about one day per week and still make it through the 8s. The 8s are what I'm most concerned about, and I know there will be days when I won't have time to study. So far I've been studying each morning on the train to work, and it takes about an hour each day. I expect that to increase as the cardbox grows, and once I start getting to words I've never seen before.

Here's the regimen. My overall philosophy is to keep the cardbox as small as possible, since reviewing cardbox words can easily overwhelm learning new words. So I only populate the cardbox with words I really need to review, and try to keep everything else out. To that end, I only put words in the cardbox after I miss them twice, and then I remove them after I get them right four times in a row.

Each day, I do the following. I set a timer of 5 seconds per word for every quiz, except for the cardbox review, which gets 10 seconds per word.

1. Quiz anything that's due in the cardbox.
2. Quiz missed 6s from the quiz I did 5 days ago. Add any missed words to the cardbox.
3. Quiz 100 new 6s by playability. Add any incorrect guesses to the cardbox.
4. Quiz missed 7s from the quiz I did 5 days ago. Add any missed words to the cardbox.
5. Quiz 100 new 7s by probability. Add any incorrect guesses to the cardbox.
6. Quiz missed 8s from the quiz I did 5 days ago. Add any missed words to the cardbox.
7. Quiz 100 new 8s by probability. Add any incorrect guesses to the cardbox.
8. If there's time, quiz 50-100 random 4s. Add any missed words to the cardbox.
9. If there's time, quiz 50-100 random 5s. Add any missed words to the cardbox.
10. Remove anything in cardbox 4.

I'm doing at least 300 words per day, which is totally manageable, plus whatever I missed 5 days ago and whatever is due in the cardbox, plus some 4s and 5s if I find some extra time at lunch or something. I'm usually done studying before work in the morning. That gives me the rest of the day for the anagramming parts of my brain to rest, and for me to do other things like, you know, my actual job, family stuff, and Zyzzyva iPhone development. Today I got through the 2600th words of each length, and I'm already starting to feel so much more in control of my word knowledge than I did a month ago. I expect the dynamic to change once I start learning brand new words, and I'm looking forward to it.

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I've found it handy to do this. Whenever I miss a question, it gets asked again after 20 questions. Just long enough for you to have forgotten it if you weren't paying attention. I think it's a really good thing to do.

i like reading about others' studying habits. i think everyone has to develop their own methods.

this has been my system for the last month for learning Collins. i'm no way trying to learn all the dictionary - just the stuff that will get me competitive.

i've gone through every 7 and 8 letter word up to 12k in probability or playability. If i got them right first time (and not just guessing, but i knew they were words) then i cross them off the list. The ones that i don't know i put into the cardbox and quiz myself on them by starting with a 100 words and adding another 100 per day. Those that I get wrong each day I requiz myself on that day until i get them right. Some words i need four or five passes before i get them right, but i find the process useful.

e.g. by doing this i kept guessing that AABDEINR was ABRAINED*. Now that i do this when i see ABRAINED* i know to keep looking for a CSW word.

i'm trying to do the same for the smaller words but they always are hard to get down.

whoops, in case any CSW players read this - i just realised that my example is a 2012 addition.

This sounds very similar to what I'm doing, and I like it! I think the repetition for the difficult ones, especially for the ones where you often guess a phony word, is crucial.

Am I one of the few people who (strives to) do everything due in the cardbox every day, and has like almost 30K words in it between cardbox 0 and 12? It seems everyone has their own ways of using the CB.

In any case, stop studying and get coding, because I really would like to bring my iPad to study on the plane to Poland rather than my laptop. :)

Someday I want to brain-dump suggestions to you for cool cardbox features -- I've coded a bunch of things in shell scripts that would be great to have in Zyz itself.

Oh, don't worry, I'm coding! It's what I do with pretty much all my free time except that hour in the morning. :-) I wouldn't plan on having a fully functional iPad quiz by WSC, but I'll try to get you at least something by then. You'll still probably want to bring your laptop.

I would love to receive your brain dump! Once the iPhone app is out in the world, I'll be turning my attention back to the desktop program, and I have many improvements I want to make.

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