How do you catch up?

Hello, longtime user first time poster (I think).

I’ve been using Skritter pretty consistently over the past 2 years or so, and have amassed a ton of cards (4137 words in my wordlist at the moment). Overtime this has meant that each day my review sessions take longer a longer, with it taking about 40-45 mins if I am using the app every day without a gap.

My trouble is that I recently had a 2 week vacation without being able to use the app. My review list is over 5000! Did a bit of napkin math and that’d involve something like 11 hours of non-stop reviewing to get it back towards 0, and that’s not including the extra 400 or so that get added each day. Sure enough it’s all revision, so not exactly time wasted, but it’s such a daunting figure to see everyday and just saps my motivation.

I’m curious if there’s any other folks with substantial word lists like this that encounter similar? How do you cope?

I’m a bit wary as I’m due to head to Beijing for a few months next year, and on previous visits I found I wasn’t able to connect to the app (not sure if it’s great fire wall or my in-laws wi-fi), and the thought that I might come back from that with 10k+ is terrifying :s


This is unfortunately an issue with any spaced repetition system if you do take extended breaks, my advice would be to set a certain amount of time per day (say 45 minutes), disable automatic word adding, and stick to the same amount of time each day until the queue is lower, it should become manageable before too long. You can hop on, and then click the right hand corner where it says “click to calculate”-- then if you click the calendar that shows up, it’ll give you a breakdown of the next 8 weeks showing how many items are due each day. That should be a good way to access how much studying you would need to do keeping in mind how many items will be showing up each day as well from scheduling.

If you think it’s terrifying, resetting your account data might be a good idea-- you can mark things as “too easy” to push them farther in the scheduling system (or ban the item if it’s too easy and you don’t want to be bothered with it).

Hello, @McNubn

long time user here, over 5 years of Skritter subscriptions. I have about 3200 Skritter-known characters and over 13,500 “words” on my word list.

I ran into your problem some years ago and used to get quite morose about the impossibility of catching up if I had missed days or weeks of Skritter review. That was in the days when I needed a minimum 1 “Skritter-hour” a day just to keep up with new vocabulary.

Since then I have learned that using the “advanced study” mode (on the original app) and selecting the most recent lists, and studying for ideally 1/2 hr or absolute maximum 45 Skritter-minutes a day is the way to go, no matter how many older words I may “lose” in the process.

That is because I am in this for the long-haul, disagree with the mastery of the massive vocabulary lists that Mandarin classes expect weekly, and have learned that I can trust the algorithm of the (original) Skritter app to keep me going.

You will forget older words. For that, make it a habit to every once in a while review older lists. The most important thing is to expose yourself to as much written and spoken Chinese as you can, as a native speaker does, and that will help reinforce vocabulary you have already “learned” and “forgotten”.

Some advice on your Beijing trip and keeping up your writing skills.

One, don’t worry about keeping up with Skritter reviews and instead focus on as much oral and aural practice as possible while in Beijing. Keep a note of new words you hear on the street, with friends etc., in a little pocket book (with pen) - enter them into Skritter lists when you get the chance or on your return. Converse as much as possible with everyone you meet. Strike up conversations with cafe owners, people at bus stops, and make friends everywhere you can. What is precious, from a language point of view, about your time in Beijing is the ability to immerse yourself in a Mandarin environment. There is the rest of your life to improve your reading and writing skills, but this chance to use and enhance your Mandarin speaking abilities cannot be matched back home.

Two: noticing that I was losing my ability to write characters the more I communicated with Chinese friends on chat apps (using pinyin), I asked my friends if I could go back to old-fashioned hand-written letters to communicate over Line and WeChat once I returned home. I sent snaps of my letters, and they would answer digitally. I told them not to correct my grammar etc. because I didn’t want my letters to become a burden. I just wanted practice. I’ve noticed even my Chinese friends are slowly losing their ability to recall how to write characters given social media input methods! This is much worse for the non-native speaker. Letter-writing has made a big difference over the last few years, and I’ve become much better at sentence structure too.

All the best on your upcoming trip!


I use the legacy option to “save me” which works great to smash those reviews out over a long period of time.

I think marking things as “too easy” is critical to keep things manageable. In general skritter seems conservative on scheduling but really you should be scheduling things far enough out that they are a bit hard to remember. I suspect that your backlog consists of many easy words that ideally don’t need to be reviewed. You can check your accuracy rate, as it gets higher it exponentially increases the amount of reviews you need to do. mark most words too easy and your accuracy will drop because they get scheduled further out but workload decreases and your study time efficiency increases.

I am paranoid about marking characters too easy. After many years, I am still surprised by the ability to forget the most basic characters. It all depends on usage. If you are only hearing/reading them, and not writing them frequently, they disappear (temporarily) just as easily as more complex or more rare characters.

I can see how that would reduce the list though.

Yep, I have that problem too. My list is a bit smaller, but I have gotten to 900 to review. In the Air Force they have a declutter setting for the EW so if there are more than 5 threats Only the worst 5 are displayed It helps the pilot feel better just before he dies.

Maybe there can be a setting that makes Skritter stop accumulating review cards when you get to a user selected amount. I know the new app allows you to select how many you want in this session so at least you can feel like you are finishing.

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I was about 5000 reviews behind a few weeks ago when I started doing something about it. The obvious solution is to go through everything deck by deck every time you start a review session. If you have decks A, B, C and D (or whatever), just start reviewing from deck A only until you’re done, then include both A and B next time. Then A, B and C. Then include D too. Choose the decks in order of importance, of course, so you review the most useful stuff first.

This worked well for me. It sets a clear goal, it doesn’t overwhelm me and feels manageable. If you have a very large number of decks with very little in each, it could be a bit tedious to select them all towards the end, but I only have ten or so, so that’s not a problem for me.