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Idiomatic Vocabulary 14: a sharp learning curve

The Phrases

  1. To be a sharp learning curve
  2. To do everything from scratch
  3. To revert to Plan B.
  4. To go back to the drawing board.

Their Definitions

These are a series of related sayings, describing situations where …

  1. where you have to learn very
  2. where you have to do everything from the beginning.
  3. after the first plan fails, you change to another.
  4. a plan fails, and you have to begin all over again.


This is useful for IELTS because, in a complicated world, we are all trying to learn, and have learnt much in the past, have tried and failed at various projects. Thus, this phrase can probably be useful for everyone, describing some situation in their past.

Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “When I started my website, it was definitely a sharp learning curve.”
  • “I was given complete responsibility for the entire school, which was certainly a sharp learning curve, and absolutely nothing was done or prepared beforehand. I had to do absolutely everything from scratch.”
  • “After three months, I realised I’d never get along with the crazy boss, so, Plan A having failed, one reverts to Plan B, right?”
  • “I designed IELTS courses for one school where I worked for years, then decided to leave and teach using my own books, so it was back to the drawing board. I spent at least three weeks working on the new syllabus.”