I'm playing Skyrim as a mage, and I am wondering how I can level up the skills for mage.

Alchemy and Destruction seem quite straightforward. However, many skills consist of mostly defensive spells: how do those affect skill progression?

For restoration, I notice healing gets increases my skill; does this only work if my health isn't full?

What about spells that create something (a light, armor rating, a weapon, summon, etc): when will those affect the skill? Does constant renewing increase skill, or is it useless?

5 Answers 5


As you noticed, Destruction is pretty straightforward. Each cast and while continued casting, you will increase skill, but this has a caveat: only if you are attacking someone. If you're fizzling your spell in the middle of town, it's not going to increase it.

Alchemy is also straightforward: each potion created will increase your skill. As dpatchery notes, eating ingredients for effect determination will also increase your skill by a small amount.

With Enchanting, each enchant (or disenchant, as LessPop_MoreFizz notes) as will increase skill. dpatchery also notes that you can increase your skill by recharging items with soul gems.

Restoration, namely the healing spells, only increase skill if your health is below its maximum. The others only work if you're in combat or near hostile enemies: this includes spells like Steadfast Ward.

For summoning spells (essentially most things in the Conjuration school), you won't get a skill up for the summon until you enter the range of hostile mobs and, in the case of summoned creatures (like the Atronach and the Familiar), they do some damage. With bound weapons, entering range of hostile mobs is all that's necessary to gain Conjuration skill; however, using them in combat will increase their appropriate weapon skill, not Conjuration.

Alteration and Illusion spells that are targeted towards messing with hostile mobs need hostile mobs within range to skill up. Buffs, like Oakflesh, don't increase skill without hostility as well. Others, like Candlelight and Muffle, are recastable without hostility but only increase skill by a small amount.

  • 2
    Note that Alchemy is also increased slightly when eating ingredients to determine their effects. Enchanting is also increased when using a soul gem to replenish charges on a magic weapon.
    – dpatchery
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:44
  • @dpatchery Nice: didn't even think to test that. Added.
    – user3389
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:50
  • 1
    Similarly to Alchemy, Enchanting can also be leveled by disenchanting items to learn new effects. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:56
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz Ah, good call: I did test that one but forgot about it. Added.
    – user3389
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 14:01
  • @MarkTrapp have you tried summoning a creature, hitting it enough to make it attack, and then casting spells like oakflesh and bound weapons? Might not be worth the effort for folks with low magicka/low magicka regen
    – JClaspill
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 17:13

Yep, you can use the spell 'Muffle' to level up your magic just by walking around. Just cast it and walk around, and it'll increase your level and give you some exp!

Could be considered an exploit though.

Quick Experience and Illusion Skill Gain

While most spells require you to actively use them in combat situations or on specific objects to progress, there is at least one spell that doesn't: Muffle. Muffle is an Illusion spell that quiets your movements. Continually casting Muffle while you're walking around the land will not only boost your Illusion skill, but will also increase your overall experience. http://uk.ign.com/cheats/games/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-xbox-360-14267318


Restoration only gives you experience when you heal damage.

Other spells are given experience upon every successful cast, so constant renewing will increase your bar. It just takes longer to level in those areas.

As LessPop pointed out in the comments, conjuration gives you experience when your conjured weapon or conjured minion actually deals damage to an enemy.

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    It should be noted that Conjuration spells do actually award experience based on damage dealt/use of your summoned friends or items in combat. Spamming Summon Atronach will not work. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 12:33
  • @LessPop good catch, I was thinking more along the lines the alteration spells, overlooked conjuration
    – l I
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 12:36

A lot of the spells level up ONLY through dealing damage - ie. the more damage points a spell does to an enemy, the more xp points you get in that discipline (so, casting Fire Bolt is a better use of your mana than Novice Flame).


As mentioned in some of the other answers, there are a few spells that allow you to easily level up a school all by yourself. I find that both Muffle (illusion) and Telekinesis (alteration) work great on your own.

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