Update January 2021
It looks like Duolingo are currently alternating between two different forms of XP Ramp UP: the one we focus on in the original article, and something called the Lightning Round.
Fortunately the two are much the same, so the tips below should still help you 🙂
XP Ramp Up is a great feature for boosting your comprehension speed and, as you might expect, your Duolingo XP.
It’s currently available in the League section of the iPhone and iPad apps, behind the shiny pink button in the bottom right corner. It’s a useful way of collecting a bit more XP in a short space of time, whether that’s to help you in your last-minute push for promotion, or your last gasp attempt to avoid relegation.
However, depending on your target language and level, XP Ramp Up can be tricky — especially in the latter tiers as the time comes down and the XP on offer goes up.
I’ve been playing around with XP Ramp Up for a while now and it has definitely become one of my favourite Duolingo features. So in this article, I’ll share with you four XP Ramp Up tips that help me rack up a stack of XP in a very short space of time.
Pause after answering
XP Ramp Up places an emphasis on speed. Time is limited, forcing you to answer the questions as quickly as possible.
But there are opportunities to catch your breath.
When you answer a question, irrespective of whether you get it right or not, the clock stops. And it can stay stopped for as long as you want. Instead of whizzing through to the next question (which XP Ramp Up encourages you to do) use this opportunity to take stock and prepare for the next questions.
This is a great way of taking the sting out of the exercise. I’d say it’s near essential for the 40 XP round, especially when you get to the final questions and you’ve only got a few seconds remaining. Having this time to compose yourself will make a massive difference.
If in doubt, move on
In XP Ramp UP, you need to get every question right in order to unlock the maximum amount of XP. But that doesn’t mean you have to get every question right first time.
This reminds me of when I was revising for exams at school. For years the advice was the same: if you’re struggling with a question, then move on and come back to it later.
The same applies to XP Ramp Up. You’re working against the clock so time is of the essence. If you spend too much time on one question, then, even if you get it right, you leave yourself less time to answer the remaining questions.
Depending on which tier you’re on and the language you’re learning, the best approach here is simply to move on if you can’t answer the question in ten seconds or fewer. For the latter tiers, you should aim for five seconds or fewer for most questions.
The good news is that Duolingo shows you the correct translation when you get the question wrong. And because the clock stops between questions, you can use this time to familiarise yourself with the translation for when you come back to it later in the round.
This will save you a serious chunk of time and give you a much better chance of clinching the XP.
Get easy questions wrong
No, I’m not encouraging you to be stupid.
Have you ever noticed the ‘Hard Exercises’ at the end of the traditional Duolingo lessons? Well, these are present in XP Ramp Up as well. They’re ‘Hard’ because you have to translate a sentence from your native (or root) language into your target language, without the aid of the word bank.
This can be tricky even in the traditional lesson environment. But it’s even harder in XP Ramp Up because you’re racing against the clock.
Fortunately, I’ve found an easy way to avoid the Hard Exercises: get questions wrong.
By getting a couple of easy questions wrong, Duolingo won’t serve you the Hard Exercises at the end of the round. Instead, you’ll get the questions that you got wrong. And if these are easy multiple-choice questions, they should only take a second or two to answer.
The result of this is you save a huge amount of time, increase your chances of finishing the round, and receive exactly the same amount of XP.
Of course, if you’re a bit of a purist and want to test yourself with the harder exercises, then, by all means, do so. But if you’re struggling and want to complete more rounds, then this simple trick will make a massive difference.
Don’t wait for the speaker to finish
Waiting for the speaker to finish will seriously eat into your time, especially if you do it for every question.
For those that turn off the listening and speaking exercises in the traditional lessons, this probably won’t be an issue, as you’ll already be accustomed to translating from the sentence on-screen.
But for those, like myself, who regularly have the sound on, it can be habitual to answer based on what the speaker is saying, rather than what appears on-screen.
This doesn’t matter too much if the sentence is short, as it won’t guzzle your time, nor will it take long to answer. But if it’s a longer sentence, it could take a solid 5 seconds before the speaker finishes. And the longer the sentence, the more time you’re going to need to type it out.
This won’t be a big issue in the earlier rounds. But in the latter rounds, where every second counts, it will have a massive effect.
So, as soon as you see the sentence on screen, start typing out your answer. You’ll save yourself a heap of time, and give yourself a much better chance of completing the round.
(P.S. Don’t buy Timer Boosts!)
This isn’t a tip. If anything it’s more of a gripe.
However you approach XP Ramp Up, I don’t recommend you buy the Timer Boosts.
I know Duolingo need to make money somehow, which is why I’m happy to pay for Plus and was happy to watch ads as a free member.
But these Timer Boosts are exceptionally poor value for money. Just one Boost will set you back a whopping £0.99 in the UK.
Just. One. Boost.
If we could use our mountains of gems to buy them then that would be a different story. We need something practical to spend them on, after all, and Timer Boosts, in this instance, could make sense.
But as they are I simply can’t get behind them. While it can be frustrating missing out with one question remaining in the 40 XP tier, in the long-term this money would be better invested in something like a Plus membership, LingQ or other premium resource to support your language learning.
And besides, if you adopt the tips outlined above, you’ll find yourself getting to and completing the 40 XP tier without Boosts more often than not.
So do yourself a favour and save your money!
What do you think of XP Ramp Up?
XP Ramp Up is definitely one of my favourite Duolingo features. But what do you think of it?
Do you use it regularly?
Has it helped your comprehension speed?
Do you find it a bit tricky in its current format?
Is there anything you would change about it?
Let me know in the comments!