Vocabulary FAQ

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

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


I'm a beginner. What should I study?


Here are some recommended lists for beginners of Mandarin Chinese:

  • HSK 1 -  We have listed the HSK 1 vocabulary in an order that is most useful for beginners.
  • 100 Common Radicals - Learn the 100 most common radicals.
  • Skritter Chinese 101 - A study deck focused on high-frequency characters and words found in today's top textbooks.

Here are some recommended lists for beginners of Japanese:

  • JLPT N5 - A study deck that covers the most basic level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
  • Radicals - Learn the most common forms of the radicals used in kanji.
  • Japanese 101 - A study deck for those who are ready to begin learning some basic kanji.


Are you studying from a specific textbook? We have a large amount of pre-made decks, so we recommend looking for your specific book in our Textbooks section. You also have the option to create a custom list.

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, as opposed to always seeing the word when you study a list it is 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 an 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 practice pad.

  • Learn about the website practice pad here.
  • Learn about the mobile practice pad here.

The Practice Pad 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 practice pad just gives you the words you tell it to.  Words must be separated by a comma.

We recommend using the practice pad 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 on this forum thread

You can change your target retention rate on the website in your study settings.

Lowering the retention rate can have a big effect on how many reviews are due each day. Keep in mind, if you have been Skrittering a long time, it may take weeks to change. 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 are 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 are sure you want to add more material beyond what Skritter is automatically adding, 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 include 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: The Study page and the Account page.

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. Any prompts that were skipped will then be added to the queue. 

If you want to isolate certain parts to review at once, but don't want to disable them indefinitely, you should filter them on the study page. See instructions below.

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

2. Click the "Quick Settings" icon, where you can choose which parts you would like to filter. 

3. Use the checkboxes to filter which parts to study.

3. 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

Filtering which parts to study from the 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 to the queue, so, if you decide to add these parts later, you would need to set your lists to rescan any parts missing.   

1. First, click your username on the top navigation bar, then "Account".

2. Next, click "Study".

3. Choose which parts to study with the checkboxes.

4. Confirm the changes by clicking "Save". 

How do I remove words?

You can individually remove words by either locating/deleting them from the list they are located in, or by removing them when they come up in a study session. If you want to reset your progress and start over from scratch, you can also remove all of your words.

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 to edit.

Removing words from a specific list

Removing a word from a list will also remove that word from your studies. However, if the word is being studied in another list, that word will not be removed from your studies.

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

2. Next, click the name of the list you would like to remove a word from.

3. Click on the list section the word is in.

4. Click "Edit".

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

Removing words while studying

If you come across a word you want to remove during a study session, you can ban it. It will ask whether you want to ban the current part only or ban the entire word and all of its parts.

1. Click the ban icon and select if you want to ban the current part or all parts.

You can always unban words later from the banned words section of the words tab.

Removing all words (starting over)

If you want to start over from scratch, you can remove all of your words and reset your progress.

1. Tap your username in the navigation bar, then "Account".

2. Next, scroll to the bottom and 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 "i" icon and then 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.

1   Click the green "i" icon.

2   Tap the "edit" icon.

3. Edit the definition and/or mnemonic fields and save.

How many characters does Skritter support?

Our database contains around 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 study settings located in account settings. If you are 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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