When making a list, it can be tempting to pile on the words, as if the dictionary is a buffet table and you’re allowed only one pass. But this may not be the best approach.

First, think about the time you want to spend learning. Learing a list takes concentration and energy. Do you have a half hour or more like five minutes? Are you on your way to bed? Is the phone about to ring?

Next, think about how well you already know the words on the list. (To learn about what it means to partially know a word, read Do I Know You? Word Knowledge Limbo.) Learning a list of 10 words you know fairly well could take as little as five minutes. Learning a list of 10 words you’ve never seen before will likely take you 15 minutes or more.

Vocabulary.com’s Georgia Scurletis, director of curriculum, suggests you also think about what you plan to use your list for. “Are you a teacher building a list for an in-class warm up? Are you doing a homework assignment? Studying for the SAT or another standardized test?” As a baselines, she suggests list learners start with 25-word lists, then pare them down for more directed goals, or build them up for longer term learning at will.