The Rule of 20 Links 🔗

Vrezh Oganisyan

Vrezh Oganisyan / May 23, 2020

3 min read––– views

At the time when I was a CS student, I had a problem with understanding the topics from the first attempt during the lesson. So almost always I needed to work hard after the class to be okay with the material. I spend a lot of nights trying to cope with the topics by reading different articles (in parallel I was blaming myself for not being so smart 🤟).


All these difficulties make me realize that I need to explore how the system called the brain learns and interprets materials. After some sleepless nights I get acquired with the ideas of spaced repetition, chunking, and the illusion of competence that I covered in the previous article1.

This researches brought me to the idea that we should understand the way that our brain works instead of blaming ourselves. Some might argue that there're a lot of people who're learning faster and smoother than another, but for this time let's not dig that deeper and just accept that if you're not that kind of a person, you should continue to read instead of self-blaming and seeking the ways to become next genius.

The understanding of the basics of neuroscience gives me patterns on how to work so at the time I started teaching programming and I was able to notice that most of my students facing the same issues as me. So I decided to come up with applicable idea/analog that might help them to understand and start learning instead of self-devouring. Yet another sleepless nights presented me "the rule of 20 links".

"The Rule of 20 Link" says that understanding of the topic taking a study of around 15-20 links and resources.

The only thing that I ask is just to try to find and work with those 20 links after the session of self-devouring. Below you can find my table based vision of working with those links.

Note, the number of links you need to achieve the same level may vary depends on your previous skills but on average it takes 20 links/resources.

Stages of mastering       Knowledge
Link  0 - 1Getting familiar with the topic: (in the best case understanding the main concepts)
Link  1 - 6Solving template problems tasks
Link  6 - 10Solving applicable tasks and basic vision of big picture
Link  10 - 15Acquiring with the underlying ideas and why's. Understanding the theoretical. and practical use of the topic
Link  15 - 20Ability to have a conversation about the topic or even to explain it to the complete beginners

My point with the rule is to prevent you from giving up until you really tried to work with the content the way that your brain expects you to work.

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