Good news for everyone who is trying to learn a new language: you don’t need to know all the vocab and you don’t need to know 100% of the grammar rules! Using the 80/20 rule, it is easy to pass your next exam or even learn a new language with 80% less effort.

The 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule (also known as Pareto principle) states that for most events 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input. This means, if you need 10 hours to memorize all topics of the required material for your next exam, you can memorize 80% of the exam material in only 2 hours!

Sprachen lernen mit dem 80/20 Prinzip

How to prepare for an exam

The 80/20 rule sounds great, but there are some things you need to be aware of. First of all: you have to be satisfied with knowing only 80% of the required subject matter – therefore, this method might not be suitable for perfectionists.

Invest the first 20% of the time you’re studying into getting a general overview of the exam topics. Use the remaining 80% for going into detail. You need to identify the most important parts of the required subject matter in order to study properly.

How to learn a language

Learning a new language is all about the words. Well not only, but mastering your vocabulary is a big part of being able to communicate with other people speaking a different language. Obviously, you don’t need to know all the words of a language you’re learning.

Just identify the 100-200 most common words and learn them by heart. You can find a list with the most common German words here.

After studying those words you will be able to speak with other people before you know all the words of a language (if that’s even possible).