Learning Studio Upgrades: Mastery Levels & Scoring

September 20th: This post has been updated to reflect additional scoring tweaks we launched today, inspired by some of the feedback in emails and this post’s comments. We’d love to know what you think in the comments… Obrigado! 🙂

We have exciting news! Over the past year, we’ve been rebuilding the Learning Studio from the ground up to prepare for lots of new, powerful features coming your way.

Although things will look mostly the same at first, some new intelligence has already been added to improve the functionality of the lessons, and their scoring…

Before: Classic Scoring

Previously, your lesson score was calculated as a percentage of how many questions you answered correctly.

For example, if you got 90% of the questions correct during a Lesson, that Lesson Bubble would fill in accordingly:

Your progress on individual phrases of a Lesson was not tracked, so the Learning Studio did not know which phrases you had already mastered, or which you still needed to practice.

Mastery Level

Now, when you complete a lesson, your Mastery Level for each phrase stored for later in the Learning Studio’s brain:

  • You’ll see this list at the end of a lesson, so you’ll know exactly which phrases you still need to work on.
  • All of the Phrase Mastery Levels combined determine your Lesson Mastery Level (which is visually represented by those filled-in bubbles on the main Units screen).
  • Whether you take a Lesson for the 1st or the 15th time, the questions will intelligently adapt themselves based on your Phrase Mastery Levels.

For example, the difficulty of a question that shows up (multiple choice, listen to type etc) will depend on the Mastery Level of that phrase.

  • A phrase with a low Mastery Level may show a “typing practice” or “drag to sort” question, since those are easier.
  • A phrase with a higher Mastery Level may show up as a more difficult question kind, such as “listen and type”.
  • Weaker phrases will be shown more frequently than Mastered ones, to ensure you’re focussing on the phrases that need more practice.

Changes: September 20

  • A Lesson’s horizontal progress bar now represents the Lesson’s current Mastery Level, just like the Lesson’s bubble on the Units screen. (Previously, the progress bar only showed how many questions were remaining before the end of the Lesson… lame!)
    • That’s why if you’re repeating a Lesson, your progress bar will already be at least partially filled in when you start the Lesson.
  • You can now actually achieve a Mastery Level of 100% by answering all of the questions correct. Isn’t that an amazing concept!? 🙈
    • Exception: Review Lessons are based on previous Lessons in that Unit. If those Lessons have weak Mastery Levels (eg. 70% or lower), you’ll see a warning telling you that a full 100% won’t be possible during that Review.
  • When a phrase has been fully Mastered, you’ll see a little “Review” indicator. What does that mean? You’ll just have to hover your cursor over it to find out! 😈

pFAQ.’s (Probable Frequently Asked Questions 🤓)

Q: I opened a Lesson for the first time, but the progress bar was already partially filled in… huh?

A: That’s probably a Review Lesson. It contains phrases you’ve already started Mastering in previous Lessons. Similarly, if you retake a Lesson, you’ll notice that your progress bar won’t start at 0%, but will show you your current Mastery Level.

Q: Should I wait to get 100% on a lesson before moving on?

A: Probably not. If you get over 70%, you’ll be invited to move onto the next lesson. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to strengthen your Mastery Level in Review Lessons (which are outlined in yellow on the Units screen).

Since Review Lessons use phrases from previous Lessons, strengthening the Mastery Level of a Review Lesson will also strengthen previous Lessons, and vice-versa.

Q: A Lesson bubble is partially filled in even though I’ve never taken that lesson!

A: Não te asustes… That’s because the Lesson contains phrases you’ve already started mastering. For example, Review Lessons (outlined in yellow) might be almost completely filled in if you’ve been doing well on the previous Lessons.

Q: If these Lesson bubbles are now alive and filling themselves in, how am I supposed to know which ones I’ve actually taken!?

A: Take a deep breath! Lesson bubbles will get checked off as you complete them.

Q: I opened a Lesson to find a billion questions waiting for me to answer instead of just the usual ±30

A: Some Lessons have lots of phrases, so it takes more questions for you to master them. We’re working on a way to autosave your scores in the middle of a Lesson, so you don’t have to worry about losing your progress.


  • Hi Joel,

    Well I have just done a couple of units with the new system and I have to say I HATE it, I think it is awful and totally demotivating.

    How you can give anybody less than 100% for a right answer is beyond me. I have no discretion about how I answer, the system dictates you are right or wrong. It is not as though I am doing a thesis where there is room for interpretation and personal expression.

    I do not want a degree in Portuguese, I just want to be understood and understand and most of the people I meet will definitely not be academics and some hard to understand even to you.

    Additionally where is the advantage?. If I want to “brush up” on my weak parts I still have to go through the unit again.It cant be done in isolation.Plus I already know where I have been stupid and got it wrong. An answer comes up and tells you.

    I think you have lost your way on this one. It is far too complex Lets go back to enjoying what you offer and K.I.S. S (which means “keep it simple stupid” in the nicest possible way).

    It is not as though any language is grammatically correct outside the classroom, there are so many ways of expressing the same thing and all of them can be correct.

    So sorry to say this scoring lark is not fit for purpose and is diabolical in my opinion.
    Lets go back to Rui and his Avo and enjoy.

    Sorry about the rant But!!!!

    Kind regards,


    • Hi Michael! First, thanks for your continued support, and also for your honest feedback. That’s the kind of thing we need to hear in order to keep re-evaluating and reiterating. I totally get what you’re saying, and we’ll be interested to hear if there are others that also share that viewpoint, since we’ve had some favourable feedback as well. I’ve already discussed your feedback with our talented programmer, and we’re looking at adding a setting for those who want to stay on the old scoring method. In the past few hours, he has already programmed the system to record scores in a way that will be compatible with this old method, so that if/when that setting is implemented, lesson scores you achieve today would be able to displayed based on the old criteria. Thanks again for sticking with us! 🙂

      • Good Morning Joel,

        Thank you for your prompt and polite reply to my “rant”. Now the red mist has gone may I make a suggestion. Why not have an advanced section for the people who love the intriacies of language.

        If I was a beginner I would find your changes daunting. But enough about that.

        Before I found P.P I had signed with a competitor who had this feature where you posted a couple of paragraphs of the language you were learning and it was corrected on a volountary basis by natives of the country. It is an excellent tool but I can not see how you could replicate it at the moment.

        However as you have an excellent range of verbs nouns etc , is it not possible to devise a sentence builder, where you are introduced to the task of putting together more than a phrase at a time and so would be getting nearer with coping with a conversation with more confidence.

        Keep up the good work,

        Many thanks,


        • Hi Michael, thanks for your additional suggestions, and for your patience with this new scoring the last few days. We just made additional adjustments which *should* make things more intuitive. (We’ve updated this post too!).

          Thanks again for being one of the critical voices that inspired us to go back to the drawing board. Let us know if you think these changes are an improvement! Abraço

  • Hi, Joel,
    First, I just wanted to say that I have both enjoyed and benefited from PP. Thanks!
    Lately, the units have been my go-to daily dose, so it was interesting to see this change. And my first reaction is that it is a great improvement! I was beginning to feel that I could glide through some of the units in the old system where the new system forces me to engage more.
    Keep up the good work.

  • I generally do not like “switching horses” “in the middle of the stream!” However, the scoring system now in place DOES make it possible to see where we are weak and allows us to repeat the questions over and over. It helps. I still think you need to slow down some of your speech for beginners. There are too many swallowed words and SLURRED speech. It may be that Portuguese do speak that way, but those of us who are new at the game cannot always understand, nor do we easily WRITE words that do not in any way resemble the SOUNDS. I know that MY speech in Portuguese is going to be very slow and awkward for a long time. Try to put yourselves in the position of a student and ask yourself the question: Is this easily understood by a beginner? If the answer is NO, then the speech is too fast.

  • I think the idea of scoring in a way that points out which phrases I am having trouble with is a good ideia. For me at least it is not the score that is important but showing what I have, and have not learned. However, it does take a while to get used to the new system..

    • Hi John! We launched some further tweaks to the scoring etc today. Admittedly, this blog post still looks a bit wordy, but things should be a bit more straightforward when you’re actually doing the lessons… Let us know if you have any thoughts! 🙂

      • I took a look at the new post,zeroed out my old scores,and did the first lesson. I missed one question because I was careless with spelling. However, it looks good to me. It probably would be difficult to make it really concise and still have a coherent description. These and the verbs are really great learning tools.

  • Brilliant. Can not imagine howi would ever master this tricky language without you two. Thanks so much. Kind regards. Sueann

  • Thank you, I have had a few weeks off and just resumed studying today. I like the new learning units, it is very helpful having the phrases repeated in the different formats ie recognition, reassembling sentences and writing entire phrases from the aural dictation.
    I also like the grading within the units, I sort of know already when I am repeatedly making errors but this highlights both errors and success.
    Muito obrigada e parabens, Roberta

  • Okay. I have read through the explanation regarding the new scoring and, I must admit, I still don’t completely understand how it works. However, what I do know is that, for me, repetition is necessary, and if the system focuses on weaknesses, I’m all for it.
    Thank you Joel and Rui for your continuous innovation! Dave

    • Thanks for the honest feedback, David! We are already working on adjusting things a little bit to be easier to understand, without requiring users to read a huge blog post first! 🙂 Sit tight, we’ll have another update soon…

  • Firstly, Thanks for a most helpful resource.

    As you are upgrading the site I want to suggest a way of speeding up the learning process:

    After an incorrect response give feedback as now. However, instead of following with a different question present the same question again (but do not score it). This allows the learner to repeat the question and give the correct response before moving on. It’s a much more positive experience to move on having given the correct answer and thus more likely to be remembered in future.

    I hope the technology allows you to do this.

    • Thanks for your support, Sean! This is a good idea, I think I’ve seen it on some other sites. We will take a look at this and discuss it with the team 🙂 Abraço

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