“Steep Learning Curve” – Meaning Explained (With Examples)

Your professor might tell you at the beginning of class that there will be a steep learning curve or you may find yourself in a new job being told you’ll have a steep learning curve ahead of you in order to catch up to the other workers. You may be intimidated by the idea of a steep learning curve, but is it really a bad thing?

What Does “Steep Learning Curve” Mean?

A “steep learning curve” means something may be difficult or challenging to learn at first, but that once you have gained the knowledge needed, everything clicks into place and makes perfect sense. A “steep learning curve” is usually associated with learning a new skill or subject.

steep learning curve meaning

A “steep learning curve” is usually associated with the connotations that something is going to be extremely difficult to learn or to master. This may not be the case, as it may simply be something which requires more time or knowledge to understand, but can be achieved quite easily, creating a “steep curve” on a graph.

It was only in the late 1970s that the phrase “steep learning curve” began to be used to describe something that would be difficult to get the hang of. Since then, that has been the popular meaning of the phrase, though that may not always necessarily be the case as a steep learning curve does not always equate to it being difficult.

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Examples Of How To Use “Steep Learning Curve” In A Sentence

It can be a challenge to find the right words to use when you want to describe something, and describing the challenge one may face ahead when learning something new may be difficult for you to properly express. If you have trouble figuring out the correct way to use the phrase “steep learning curve” properly or you just need a refresher from time to time, you are not alone.

Here are some great examples of how to use the phrase “steep learning curve” in a sentence for you to reference.

  1. They will have a steep learning curve ahead of them if they hope to make it to nationals in the Spelling Bee Championship.
  2. Starting a new job with no prior experience can leave you facing a steep learning curve.
  3. The players faced a steep learning curve when the coach introduced a complicated new strategy for them to use.
  4. Learning to bake French macarons with no experience will show you the steep learning curve you will need to overcome to be successful.
  5. He knew he was going to face a steep learning curve when he made the decision to learn how to code computers.
  6. The students felt unprepared to face the steep learning curve as they moved from Algebra to Triganomatry after one semester.
  7. Having worked on similar projects before, she felt thankful that she wouldn’t have to deal with a steep learning curve.
  8. The restaurant doesn’t have a steep learning curve, making it ideal for someone with little to no job experience looking for work.
  9. Learning to do your own plumbing is a steep learning curve but can really pay off in the long run.
  10. The newest handheld gaming system was created with a very friendly user interface so it wasn’t a steep learning curve to learn how to use the portable console very quickly.

Is It Good To Have A Steep Learning Curve?

Having a steep learning curve is neither good nor bad, but only what is perceived by others. Some view a steep learning curve as a required challenge necessary for success, while others feel as though one should not have to struggle to understand how to do something.

Having a steep learning curve may be seen as a good thing, as a lot of people feel it builds character and teaches you to work through your struggles and dedicate effort to learning the subject at hand.

There are others, however, that feel a steep learning curve is not a good thing. They may feel as though it creates an environment of pressure that may intimidate people from starting or continuing the subject, making it a more exclusive thing.

A steep learning curve itself is not good or bad, but shows only a large amount of knowledge gained over time. The less time it takes to learn the required knowledge, the steeper the learning curve will actually be.

Is It Correct To Say “The Learning Curve Has Always Been Uphill”?

Saying “the learning curve has always been uphill” is correct. It is not commonly used, as the phrase “a steep learning curve” is the most popular iteration of the phrase when describing the difficulty of learning something.

“The learning curve has always been uphill” is a phrase you could use to describe a difficult struggle to learn a new skill or subject. You could also use it to describe the knowledge you continue to gain in your field of study as something being considered “uphill” is thought to be a long and difficult journey with a reward at the end for hard work.

If you are unsure as to whether or not it is correct for you to use the phrase “the learning curve has always been uphill” you can always substitute it with the phrase “steep learning curve” as the two mean the same thing.

Synonyms For “Steep Learning Curve

If you’re looking for the right words to describe something, but you feel as though the phrase “steep learning curve” isn’t quite right, you may find yourself looking for a different phrase. There are lots of phrases that mean the same thing, or something quite close to “steep learning curve”.

Here are some great synonyms for you to look at if “steep learning curve” isn’t the phrase you’re looking for.

  • The intense dedication to learning over time
  • The rate of progress needed to learn a new subject or skill
  • A difficult learning experience
  • A tough formative phase
  • Difficulty getting the hang of things
  • A long learning time
  • An excessively difficult learning process

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