Book Notes: Ultralearning by Scott Young

Ultralearning by Scott Young

Ultralearning is a prescriptive work that teaches an intense and self-directed strategy for acquiring skills and knowledge.

Principles of Ultralearning

There are 9 principles in Ultraleaning:

  1. Metalearning
  2. Focus
  3. Directness
  4. Drill
  5. Retrieval
  6. Feedback
  7. Retention
  8. Intuition
  9. Experimentation

Metalearning involves researching syntopically. Start by drawing a map of how to learn the subject or skill. Metalearning may differ based upon Instrumental vs Intrinsic projects. Instrumental projects are those with the purpose of achieving a specific result. Instrinsic projects are those that are pursued for their own sake.

Interviewing an expert may help with Metalearning. The key is to write a simple, to the point email, explaining why you’re reaching out and asking for fifteen minutes of their time.

The subject can then be structured into Concepts, Facts, and Procedures.

Focus involves cultivating time to concentrate.

Directness involves learning the subject by directly working on the subject rather than proxies. Opting for a project rather than a class may be better for learning. Immersion is the process of surrounding yourself with the subject or skill. This allows for much more practice than typical.

Drill involves improving your weakest points by repeatedly practicing. Careful analysis and deliberate practice is key. This is especially key for the Rate-deterimining steps.

Retrieval involves actively recalling information. Flash cards are a simple but effective tool.

Feedback involves calibrating knowledge of the subject or skill. There are three types of feedback: Outcome, Corrective, and Metafeedback. Learning rate is an example of metafeedback. High-intensity, rapid feedback provides both informational and emotional advantages.

Rentention involves learning things for now and forever. Spreading learning sessions over more intervals over longer periods of time tends to cause better performance in the long run.

Intuition involves getting a feel for the subject by exploring and playing with concepts. Most people learn abstract rules after being exposed to many concrete examples.

Experimentation involves discovering past the known edges of a subject and discovering new knowledge.