All skills in Oblivion increase in level as you use the skill. Each time you use a skill, you gain experience points; the number of points gained depends upon the particular skill and how you use it. Those experience points count towards your next increase in skill level. Once enough experience points have accumulated, your skill level increases. (Note that "experience points" are not visible to the player in-game unless you use the console; you see only your "skill level" values in the journal.)
The number of experience points that you must accumulate to advance a skill increases with level -- at the start of the game, you will quickly gain skill levels, but later in the game you will need to practice a skill for much longer in order to gain one level.
The number of experience points is also influenced by whether the skill is part of your character's class:
- Skills that are not part of your class are base skills and require the most experience points to advance.
- For the seven skills that are associated with your class specialization (Combat, Magic, or Stealth), only 75% of the base experience is needed.
- For the seven major skills, only 60% of the base experience is needed.
- For any skills that are both specialization skills and major skills, only 45% of the base experience is needed.
Your character's level advances when any combination of your class' seven major skills have increased 10 skill levels (and you sleep). For example, you can raise a single skill by 10 skill levels, or two skills by 5 skill levels, or five skills by 2 levels... or any other combination that adds up to 10 skill level increases. Note that even though minor skills do not count towards your level up count, they still contribute to attribute bonuses. So for example, if you raise your alchemy skill, even though it isn't a major skill it will increase your Intelligence bonus option upon leveling up.
 Acquiring Experience Points
The following table specifies which Actions are necessary to gain experience in each skill, and how many experience points are gained each time the action is done (Exp./Action). In general, actions must have a valid target to count for experience: weapon blows must land on a creature or NPC, not an inanimate object (even the training dummies in Fighters Guilds do not count); spells must be cast upon yourself, a creature, or an NPC. See the individual skill pages for more details on these actions.
Under Total Actions the table provides the total number of actions necessary to train a skill from a level of 5 to 100 (assuming the skill is not a major skill or specialization skill). A few skills provide times in hours; in all cases, these are hours of real time. See Total Experience Points for more discussion.
Training Tip provides a single suggestion for how to train this skill effectively for each action that trains the skill. A complete list of tips for each skill is provided on each skill page. The tip shown here is just one technique that is considered to be useful for most characters in most situations.
Trainers and skill books will grant experience points equal to the amount necessary for a full skill level. Using a trainer for a base skill at level 50 will therefore grant 91.51 experience points, allowing any extra points to roll over to the next level. Free skill boosts, on the other hand, effectively grant exactly enough experience points to reach the next level, always leaving the skill at zero experience for the new level.
In all cases, see the individual skill page for more details on the actions necessary to gain experience, and for a more complete list of tips on how to advance the skill.
(complete tips are provided on skill pages)
|Armorer||End||each use of a repair hammer||1.5||6,812||5,109||4,088||3,066||Create a custom 3 point, 1 second Disintegrate Armor, then cast repeatedly and repair armor after each cast, the Amulet of Disintegration could also be used.*|
|Athletics||Spd||time (secs) spent running||0.03||94.6 hrs||70.5 hrs||56.4 hrs||42.6 hrs||Run whenever possible.|
|time (secs) spent swimming||0.04||70.9 hrs||53.2 hrs||42.6 hrs||31.9 hrs||Use Water Breathing and auto-swim against an object.|
|Blade||Str||each hit on a target||0.5||20,435||15,327||12,261||9,196||See General Combat Strategies.|
|Block||End||each blocked hit||1.25||8,174||6,131||4,905||3,679|
|Blunt||Str||each hit on a target||0.5||20,435||15,327||12,261||9,196|
|Hand to Hand||Str||each hit on a target||0.6||17,030||12,773||10,218||7,664|
|Heavy Armor||End||each hit taken||1.25||8,174||6,131||4,905||3,679|
|Alchemy||Int||each potion created||5.0||2,044||1,533||1,227||920||Create Restore Fatigue potions, Farms can provide an abundance of ingredients for this.|
|each ingredient eaten||0.5||20,435||15,327||12,261||9,196|
|Alteration||Wil||each spell cast with a valid target||4.0||2,555||1,917||1,533||1,150||Create a custom Shield spell (3 points, 1 second) (or use Protect) and cast repeatedly.*|
|Conjuration||Int||each spell cast with a valid target||6.0||1,703||1,278||1,022||767||Create a custom Summon Skeleton spell with a duration of 1 sec and cast repeatedly or cast Summon Skeleton and use Turn undead on the skeleton repeatedly.*|
|Destruction||Wil||each spell cast with a valid target||1.2||8,514||6,386||5,109||3,832||Create a custom Weakness to Element on self (3 points, 1 second) repeatedly or use Entropic touch on a valid target repeatedly.*|
|Illusion||Per||each spell cast with a valid target||3.0||3,406||2,555||2,044||1,533||Create a custom Light spell (3 points, 1 second) (or use Starlight) and cast repeatedly.*|
|Mysticism||Int||each spell cast with a valid target||3.0||3,406||2,555||2,044||1,533||Create a custom Detect Life spell (3 points, 1 second) (or use Minor Life Detection) and cast repeatedly.*|
|Restoration||Wil||each spell cast with a valid target||0.6||17,030||12,773||10,218||7,664||Create a custom Restore Fatigue spell (3 points, 1 second) (or use Minor Respite) and cast repeatedly.*|
|Acrobatics||Spd||each jump or dodge||0.3||34,059||25,545||20,436||15,327||Mash the jump button while climbing a hill (or stairs), or stand underneath a low overhang (like a dock) and jump repeatedly.|
|each damaging fall||3.0||3,406||2,555||2,044||1,533|
|Light Armor||Spd||each hit taken||1.5||6,812||5,109||4,088||3,066||See General Combat Strategies.|
|Marksman||Agi||each shot hitting a target||0.8||12,772||9,579||7,664||5,748|
|Mercantile||Per||each sales transaction||0.4||25,544||19,158||15,327||11,495||Sell items one by one, not in stacks.|
|Security||Agi||each tumbler fixed||1.5||6,812||5,109||4,088||3,066||Fix the first three or four tumblers of a hard or very hard lock, then exit the menu; repeat.|
|each click of the Auto-Attempt button|
|Sneak||Agi||time (secs) spent undetected while moving in sneak mode||0.75||3.78 hrs||2.84 hrs||2.27 hrs||1.72 hrs||Autorun in sneak mode next to a sleeping person|
|each undetected opening and closing of pickpocket dialogue||2.0||5103||3834||3065||2322||The Sneak page has a list of people who don't mind being pickpocketed|
|Speechcraft||Per||each turn (4 wedges) of minigame||2.4||4,258||3,194||2,555||1,917||Play the speechcraft minigame without trying to win|
(complete tips are provided on skill pages)
*Training methods with an asterisk have two possiblilities. The first option is the cheapest/easiest option for training the skill, but requires access to spell making in either the Arcane University or Frostcrag Spire. The second option is the cheapest option for training the skill if you do not have access to spell making.
 Experience Points Needed
The following table shows the specific number of experience points needed to increase any skill from the listed level to the next level. The experience points depend upon whether the skill is a major skill or a skill in your class' specialization (Spec). Any extra experience points will roll over to the next skill level.
For example, if you gain 4 experience points at skill level 5, but you only needed 2.89 to advance the skill level, 1.11 points will 'roll over' to advancement in skill level 6, and only 2.69 more experience points will be needed to reach skill level 7.
The formula for the base experience points required to go up a level is:
Base_experience = 0.25883 * skill_level^1.5
This formula is controlled by construction set parameters, in particular
FSkillUseFactor (default value 0.35),
FSkillUseExp (default value 1.5), and
FSkillUseMinor (default value 1.25). If using a mod that alters the default parameter values, the formula becomes:
Base experience = FSkillUseMinor * (FSkillUseFactor * skill_level)^FSkillUseExp
The conversion factors, as used in the table, are:
- Base to Spec = Multiply by 0.75 (
- Base to Major = Multiply by 0.6 (
- Base to S+M = Multiply by 0.45 (
(Note that "base" skills are treated by all these equations as if they were "minor" skills, even though no skills in Oblivion are ever described as minor skills).
* A value less than 10 is not possible for a skill in the class' specialization.
** A value less than 25 is not possible for a major skill.
*** A value less than 30 is not possible for a major skill that is also in the class' specialization.
- Example 1
- A Dunmer Mage will start the game with 30 Alchemy skill. Alchemy is both a specialization and a major skill for the standard Mage class. In order to advance to skill level 31, the Mage needs 19.12 experience points in alchemy. Since each potion created gives 5 experience points to Alchemy, creating a mere 4 potions will increase the Mage's alchemy experience by 20 points and raise his level from 30 to 31. This will also earn 1 skill advancement towards level advancement because Alchemy is a major skill for a Mage.
- Example 2
- A Dunmer Assassin will start the game with 25 Alchemy skill. Alchemy is a major skill (but not a specialization skill) for the standard Assassin class. In order to advance to skill level 26, the Assassin needs 19.41 accumulated experience points. The same 4 potions that the Mage had to make to raise in level from 30 to 31 will only advance the Assassin in level from 25 to 26 (and will also earn a skill advancement towards leveling up) even though the same 20 experience points were earned.
- Once the assassin reaches level 30 (after making 21 potions), 25.51 experience points are needed to advance to level 31, 4.03 of which would roll over from the previous level. Therefore, 5 potions must be made (rather than the 4 potions needed for the Mage).
- Example 3
- A Dunmer Nightblade will start the game with 10 Alchemy skill. Alchemy is a specialization, but not a major, skill for the standard Nightblade class. Since it only takes 6.13 experience points to advance to level 11, creating a single potion will be just short of level 11 (that one potion earns 5 of the 6.13 experience points required). In fact, if the Nightblade created the same number of potions as the Mage and Assassin in the examples above (i.e., 4 thus earning 20 experience points in Alchemy), the Nightblade would have a skill level of 12 in Alchemy and put the Nightblade only 1.28 skill advancement points away from skill level 13.
- Once the Nightblade reaches level 30 (after making 69 potions), 31.89 experience points are needed to advance to level 31 (0.33 of which would roll over from level 29). 7 potions need to be made.
- Example 4
- A Dunmer Thief will start the game with a 5 Alchemy skill. Alchemy is neither a specialization nor a major skill for the standard Thief class. Since it only takes 2.89 experience points to advance to level 6, a single potion puts the Thief at level 6. Furthermore, if the Thief created the same four potions as the Mage and Assassin in the previous examples, the Thief would have a skill level of 9 in Alchemy.
- Once the thief reaches level 30 (after making 96 potions), 42.53 experience points are needed to advance to level 31 (4.85 of which would roll over from level 29). 8 potions need to be made.
 Total Experience Points
Another way to interpret the above information is to consider the number of times a skill must be used in order to raise that skill to the maximum value of 100.
- To increase a Base skill from 5 to 100: 10220 experience points.
- To increase a Specialization skill from 10 to 100: 7647 experience points.
- To increase a Major skill from 25 to 100: 5950 experience points.
- To increase a Specialization and Major skill from 30 to 100: 4381 experience points.
Racial bonuses, which cause skills to start at values larger than the minimum values, will reduce the amount of experience necessary to train a skill to level 100.
10220 experience points is converted into the number of actions necessary to train each skill in the table under Acquiring Experience Points.
 Monitoring Experience in the Console
- In the left-hand column, exactly how many experience points have been acquired and how many are needed to advance for each skill.
- In the middle column, the number of skill advances counting towards each attribute bonus the next time your character levels up. This column contains information on attribute bonuses for multiple levels, if you have not slept since your last level up became available.
See also TESCSWiki.
 Strategies for Increasing Skills
Many players will find that their skills increase naturally from normal gameplay: combat and defense skills will automatically increase each time you engage a creature in a dungeon, for example. However, as part of more advanced game play strategies, such as Efficient Leveling, more controlled practice may be desired, for example to be able to train skills in a specific environment, or to train one skill independently of other skills.
Note that some attributes and skills are closely linked, and by training one you will most likely also train another (whether you like it or not)! Strength and Endurance/Speed is one such example: It requires special dedication to practice close combat without increasing Light/Heavy armor skill (or simply wear no armor at all--if your plan is to avoid getting hit, you don't need armor).
This section provides some general strategies that are applicable to multiple skills. Strategies specific to each skill are detailed on the individual skill pages. Some of these techniques may be considered exploits or bugs.
 General Combat Strategies
The primary strategy for increasing combat skills is to hit creatures with a weapon thereby damaging their health. It is useful to practice on weak and/or summoned creatures. The sole factor that will determine the speed with which you amass experience is the number of times you score a hit, not the amount of damage dealt with each blow. Therefore it is recommended to practice with lighter weapons (daggers or shortswords for the blade skill or one-handed weapons for the blunt skill) as these weapons swing faster and allow you score more hits in the same timeframe.
If, at the highest levels, you have a lot of cash to burn and are looking for a late-game money sink, the Truncheon of Submission (purchased Varel Morvayn at Morvayn's Peacemakers in Anvil) would be ideal for some late-game Blunt training (e.g. if you started out with Blade or Destruction and want to raise other skills later on). It is expensive to acquire, and ungodly expensive to keep charged (a fully depleted Truncheon will require 2 Grand Souls and 1 Petty Soul to fully recharge, and even then, it's only good for 30 hits, anyway, before needing to be recharged again). However, if you can pull it off, its unique enchantment will heal the target to keep him constantly alive, while still keeping him too weak to fight back, making him easy target practice. The biggest issue with this strategy is that, unless you only plan to increase your blunt in small, concentrated doses (such as just enough to get +5 Strength the next level), to make it work, you'll need to keep so many soul filled soul gems on hand that you probably won't be able to move without large, powerful Feather spells.
The greatest challenge with increasing combat skills is to only practice one skill at a time: defense skills (Block, Light Armor, or Heavy Armor) and offense skills (Blade, Blunt, Hand to Hand, or Marksman) often must be used at the same time; after combat your equipment will need to be repaired, causing Armorer skill to also go up.
Before starting combat practice, it is strongly recommended to remove unnecessary enchantments, such as Reflect Damage that will make your target die more quickly.
Another possible preparation is to change the difficulty slider setting. If you are practicing defensive skills, set the difficulty slider to the easiest value; this makes you receive only 1/6 of normal damage (and you would also deal 6 times normal damage if you engaged a target). If you are practicing offensive skills, set the difficulty slider to the hardest value, so you only deal 1/6 of normal damage, maximizing the lifetime of your target (this generally only works against a target who will not fight back). In addition, if you first exhaust your fatigue (repeated jumping, for example), you will do minimal damage to the target. It is also helpful to use Turn Undead on a zombie, allowing you to get free hits in without fear of retaliation.
If you are training a skill by attacking non-stop, the game may not register the attacks or notify you of any skill increases until you stop attacking. Other than the delayed notification, this does not affect the amount of experience that you obtain.
Weak creatures provide good ways to practice defensive skills. They will automatically attack you, but they do so little damage that you can survive multiple hits. If you don't mind simultaneously training Restoration, you can periodically cast healing spells. Or you can kill the creature and then rest to restore your health without training restoration.
- The Imperial City sewers are a good place to encounter rats and mudcrabs for just this purpose. You can even find a bedroll or two to sleep on while you're down there to restore your health if desired.
- Shores of any body of water are a good place to find mudcrabs. Walk around Lake Rumare for example (and simultaneously look for nirnroot to kill two birds with one stone).
- Go to an area with many archers, like Rockmilk Cave, and get close to them so that they switch their attack from bows to daggers. Daggers have the advantage of being the fastest weapons in the game, having the weakest attack strength, and wearing out on your armor (with reduced damage-dealing power) the fastest. With four archers attacking at once you will gain experience very fast and lose health at a manageable rate. It is advised to kill the archers and move on to new targets once their daggers have broken.
- Go to the basement of Arvena Thelas' house in Anvil and get the four rats there to attack you (for example, by casting a non-damaging offensive spell on the rats like Absorb Mercantile). This is one of the best ways to train because the four rats attack quickly and deal minor damage. Once you've had enough, simply exit the room and the four rats will become calm once more.
- Fort Carmala has an area with 5 rats locked in a room, which work equally as well as the previous method.
- The haunted cavern section of haunted mine has a rat pen with around 5 rats.
Summoned creatures can be used for offensive practice. After three hits they will turn on you, allowing them to also be used for defensive practice if desired. If you wish to use this technique a lot, you may want to create a custom Summon Skeleton spell (the cheapest summon effect) with an extra-long duration. This minimizes the number of times you need to cast the summon spell, and reduces the extent to which you will simultaneously increase your Conjuration skill. When using a summoned creature to do defensive training, the most efficient way of raising endurance is to have no shield, wear only heavy armor and use hand to hand combat. This way when you block you will be blocking with your hands covered in heavy armor and both skills will increase at the same time, then you can repair damaged equipment which will also raise you armorer skill.
Besides standard Summon spells, other ways to obtain practice targets include:
- Before starting Peryite's Daedric quest, go the shrine and attack the frozen worshippers. If you use this exploit too often, your game may become unstable because you have committed too many "unreported" (but zero bounty) crimes. To fix the problem, commit an assault against a normal NPC and then pay the fine; this clears the entire stack of unreported crimes. It is probably safest to do this periodically instead of waiting for your game to become unstable, because once your game starts to crash it may be too late to recover.
- Use the Staff of Everscamp from the Whom Gods Annoy quest. The four scamps respawn continuously. You can kill them before actually accepting the staff (Rosentia Gallenus does not mind), and after you have finished the quest you can return to Darkfathom Cave to find the scamps and continue using them as a never-ending supply of weaklings.
- An easy way to train your offensive skills is to attack one scamp and trap it between the two pillars in front of the stairs. This allows you to freely hit it without being hit yourself (provided you stay out the scamp's reach) and you have less of a chance to accidentally train an armor skill or even die while training.
- With the Wizard's Tower official plug-in, the Atronach Altars can be used to summon atronach familiars, each of whom can be attacked repeatedly without ever turning on you. However, they also all have Reflect Damage, so you will still take damage from melee attacks. Ranged attacks will not be reflected, so the Atronachs make great target dummies.
- With the Vile Lair official plug-in you can obtain an unkillable sleeping prisoner (in the Cattle Pen upgrade), who can be used for perpetual target practice.
- With the Thieves Den official plug-in you can obtain Bacon the warthog (with the Fence upgrade), who is also unkillable and can be used for perpetual target practice.
- Be wary, however, for Bacon hits back. Although he will usually just walk off after going unconscious two or three times, it will be more difficult to get him to stop attacking after enough hits.
To avoid simultaneously training Armorer, you can use junk equipment. Save any equipment you have obtained and use it until it breaks. If you have a Mercantile level of 25 or higher, the broken equipment can be sold for the same price. If you wish to train Armorer later, you can also save the equipment. If you enchant a piece of armor, you can wear that piece even when broken and still receive experience. If you wish you can also pay a blacksmith to repair your equipment.
Some more unusual techniques for training offensive skills include:
- Blade and blunt skill can be trained using Shagrol gro-Uzug's weapons if you have the Fighter's Stronghold official plug-in. Shagrol has three special training weapons (an axe, a warhammer, and a dagger) which do no damage. If you pickpocket one of the weapons from him, you can use the weapon to attack anybody for as long as you like without inflicting any damage. The attack still counts as a hostile act, however, so attacking friendly NPCs will result in a bounty.
- Using 100% Chameleon allows you to attack anyone you like at will without any hostile retaliation. Good targets for training when using 100% Chameleon are ones with the ability to heal themselves (Dread Zombies, Spider Daedra, Spriggans, Trolls, Umbra, etc.) because you can train indefinitely.
 Training Athletics and Acrobatics Strategies
The best way to train Athletics is to run everywhere you go. Don't fast travel, and don't use horses; just run on foot. To train acrobatics, jump everywhere you go.
Wear Heavy Armor while you run. Wearing heavy armor in Oblivion will not have a direct impact on how fast your Athletics skill increases; however, because you are slowed down, it will take longer to reach your destination, and each second spent running counts towards your athletics. Thus, if you have the patience, you can maximize your athletics training as you get from Point A to Point B, just by slowing yourself down with heavy armor. This method may be preferable to some players who don't mind reaching their destination slower than normal.
Using Drain Athletics spells and enchantments in order to slow yourself down even further can also be used, however keep in mind it will not actually make athletics level up at a faster rate; it will just slow your character down further.
 General Magic Strategies
To increase any magic skill, all that you need to do is find a cheap spell and cast it over and over again. Only actual spells provide skill experience; casting Lesser Powers, Greater Powers, and Scrolls will not increase any skills. An exception to this rule is the spell Telekinesis since casting it does not increase your Mysticism skill, regardless if the spell successfully connects with an object.
In order to have a guaranteed target for the spell, it is best to use "on self" spells as practice spells. These practice spells can be cast continuously: as you walk through town to get to the store, as you explore the countryside, as you walk back out of a dungeon that you have finished exploring. In most cases, you do not have to wait for the previous spell to expire; you can recast the spell as soon as the casting animation is done. To cast spells even more rapidly, hold the Block key down while spellcasting. Also, the spell does not have to be "needed" for the spellcasting to be effective at providing experience. For example, a Restore Health spell can be cast on yourself even if your health is at 100%; it won't increase your health, but it will increase your Restoration experience.
The Spells page provides a complete list of the standard spells that are available for sale in the game. Identify the cheapest novice-level "on self" spell for each magical school, then track down the NPC who sells that spell and purchase it. That spell provides a good starter spell for practicing your skill.
Even more effective practice spells can be custom-made at the spellmaking altar. Create a custom 1 second, 3 point, on self spell using the cheapest spell effect available in the school. A practice spell that only costs 1 magicka to cast is ideal, and can be cast repeatedly without depleting your magicka reserves.
On the PC, magic skills can be auto-trained by placing a weight on the "cast" button on your keyboard. To increase casting speed, you can additionally draw a weapon and tape down the right mouse button in order to be blocking while casting. This is not possible on Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 (holding down the cast control does not cause a spell to be cast repeatedly).
 Experience Calculator
An Excel spreadsheet has been made as an interactive experience calculator. The way it works is you put in your current skill level and your desired skill level in their respective spots. Then you choose which skill you want, replacing the 0 beside it with a 1, and changing the 1 back to a 0 on whichever skill was previously selected (the default is armorer). Finally, where it says "Special?" and "Major?" change to 0 to a 1 if the skill in question if one of your specials or majors.
A simpler alternative EXE application is available for those who do not have Excel installed.