Vocabulary FAQ

This guide goes over some questions you may have related to vocabulary on Skritter.

If you are looking for a guide on lists, please refer to: Creating a New List


I'm a beginner. What should I study?

If you just started studying Chinese and are wondering where to get started, we recommend the  HSK 1 list. It covers the most common and important vocabulary and we've done a lot of work to put it in a useful order for beginners.

If you are studying Japanese, the equivalent list is the  JLPT N5

Studying from a textbook? Look for it in our  Textbooks section. If you're doing some other curriculum, you might want to make your own vocab list for it.

For a guide on list creation, refer to:  Creating a New List

Why do I not see some words I have already studied in my list?

Skritter is built on a  spaced repetition system. This means that you will be prompted to review a word only when the word is due, opposed to always seeing the word when you study a list it's in. This frees up more time to study other words and review items you are less likely to know (as it would be a waste of time to review something you likely already know). All words will become due for review again, and how long until the next review is based on your personal study habits and history with the word itself. In a nutshell, the more you get something right, the less you see it, and the more you get something wrong, the more you see it. This allows Skritter to focus on the areas that you need the most work on! 

How can I study a word, even if it's not due for review yet?

To bypass the spaced repetition and directly control which words you study on Skritter, you can use the  Scratchpad

The Scratchpad does not save the material you put in, so you must save any lists you want to keep locally. Instead of using Skritter's more sophisticated spaced repetition algorithms, the Scratchpad just gives you the words you tell it to.  (You can paste words into the scratchpad in bulk, as long as they are separated line by line).

Because the Scratchpad's scheduling is simplified and aimed at cramming, it can't save vocabulary and doesn't plug into the list system. We recommend only using it as you might a scrap piece of paper: infrequently and for short periods of time. 

How is my retention rate calculated?

If you took a quiz on everything you've added to Skritter, your retention rate would be your score, with 95% being a good target. To learn faster, lower your retention rate a bit-- you'll have much fewer reviews due, but you won't know quite as much of the material at any given time. You can learn more about it at  SuperMemo, or in this forum thread. You can change your target retention rate in your study settings.

Lowering the retention rate can have a big effect in how many reviews are due each day, but it will probably take weeks to change, depending on how long you've been Skrittering. Only reviews done after the change will be affected. So when you change the rate, give it time. It's often more efficient in terms of items-learned-per-minute-spent to target a retention rate lower than 95%, but forgetting more prompts is more frustrating to most people. Raising it to 97% will eventually give you a very high review load, but you will rarely forget, as long as you're practicing regularly.

How can I see new words or characters more often?

We always recommend being careful when adding new vocabulary-- the effort required to learn vocabulary for the long term tends to be greater than expected. If you're sure you want to add more material beyond what Skritter is adding automatically, you can use the manual add button. 

You can add a new word or character at any time, by using the Manual Add Word button on the study page. Each time you click the button, Skritter will add another item from one of your lists.

How do I study a specific part (writing, reading, definition, tone)?

On Skritter, each word is divided into separate parts so that they can be efficiently scheduled and reviewed. The different part types are: writing, reading, definition, and tones (for Chinese). All of the parts can be studied independently or in some mixture. There are two places on the site that control the parts you study.

Study Page: Filtering parts to study

Filtering which parts you want to study from the Study page is temporary-- the change will only take effect while set to that configuration. For instance, if you disable all parts besides writing prompts, you will only see writing prompts until you change the filter back, and any prompts that were skipped will be added. If you want to isolate certain parts to review them at once (but don't want to disable them indefinitely), you should change the parts on the study page.

  First, go to the study page by clicking "Study" on the top navigation bar. 

  A settings popup will show, where you can choose which parts you would like to filter. 

  Once you've selected which parts you would like filtered, make sure to press "Save" to confirm your changes.  

Account Page: Choosing parts to study

Selecting which parts you want to study from your account page will take effect for each study session and each list you study. For example, if you want to disable adding new reading prompts from every list you study, you should change the parts on your account page. Disabling the parts in your account settings page will prevent that part from being added, so you would need to set your lists to rescan any parts missing, if you decide you later would like to add parts that had been not added from the setting being disabled. 

  First, open your account page by clicking your username on the top navigation bar, then "Account".

  Next, click "Study".

  Choose which parts to study with the check boxes.

  Confirm the changes by pressing "Save". 

How do I remove words?

You can remove words from your studies, either by locating and deleting it from it's list, or by removing it when it comes up for study. You can also remove all of your words, resetting your progress so you can start over from scratch.

In order to edit a list, you need to be the list's editor. If you did not create the list, you can create a copy of it which you can edit.

Removing words from a specific list

Removing a word from a list will also remove that word from your studies, unless the words is being studied from other lists. If you delete a word from a list which also is studied in another list, that word will not be removed from your studies. 

  First, click "Lists" on the top navigation bar.

  Next, click the list's name you would like to remove a word from.

  Click on the list section the word is in.

  Click "Edit".

  Click the trashcan icon next to the word(s) you want to delete.

Removing words while studying

You can remove words while they pop up for review by banning them from the study page. It will ask whether you want to ban the current part only, or ban the entire word and all of it's parts. 

  Click the ban icon.

  Select if you want to ban the current part, or all of the word's parts.

Removing all words (starting over)

You can remove all of your words and reset your progress so you can start over from scratch. 

  Open your account page, by clicking your user name on the navigation bar, then "Account".

  Next, click "Reset All Data".

A password confirmation window will come up before any change takes place.

Will Skritter add the same word again if it's in another list?

No duplicates will ever be added, Skritter keeps track of each vocab item you're studying and all the places it was added from. Do feel free to add all you like! Having the same word in multiple lists will not affect how often the word is reviewed.

Can I personalize my vocabulary definitions?

Yes! While studying, click the edit icon (green pencil) to trigger editing. There is also a mnemonics area below the definition where you can add mnemonics or other notes to.

  Click the green pencil icon.

  Edit the definition or mnemonic field.

How many characters does Skritter support?

Our database contains over 15,000 characters, including the traditional and simplified forms of about 11,000 Chinese characters and 4000 Japanese characters. You can study both Chinese styles at once if you want, or pick one--  look here for more info on choosing styles. We also support Heisig keywords.

How do I export characters / words?

You can export characters from a list (either tab separated or comma separated) by going into your list, and then using the "Export" option on the left hand side of the list's page.

Can I change my source language?

Yes! Skritter offers many other source languages which you can set in your account settings. If you're looking for Cantonese, you can set your target language setting to 粤语. This will add additional Cantonese information into the definition area of words. We don't have more support for this yet, however.

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