Inundated with reviews? My solution: ban writing for words

I thought I would make this post because I have had the problem that many Skritter users have had over the years: inundation of reviews. I believe I have found a solution to this that works for me, so I thought I would share it with the Skritter community (many of whom will have a full-time job).

My solution to this has been to ban the writing of words (I manually ban words via the Legacy Skritter website). I still have the writing setting for characters. I have also taken off the studying of pinyin as I feel I can do that with the Tones setting (i.e. I test on tone and pinyin).

Since I did this two months ago, I have been able to add a lot of words (close to 1000 in a month) and my retention rate is pretty solid (91%). The retention rate is brought down primarily because of the original writing that I do undertake. Tone and Definition retention rate is around 95-97% (my setting is 97%)

My process goes like this:

  1. Add words to a Skritter list
    2a) Go through and ban Pinyin and Writing for words which I already have the character added
    2b) Go through and ban pinyin for words where there is at least one unadded character
  2. I don’t like to add words without some context, so I will find the sentence in which I have added the word from (e.g. Chinese CNKI article, Chairman Bao, online news article etc.).
  3. Add words to study on a ‘Fast’ setting
  4. When a new word comes up, I will go to Pleco to get more context. I edit the definition, adding the category of the word: N., S.V., ADV. etc. I also add the Chinese meaning (which I bold):
    e.g. 攒钱 --> V.O. to save money (e.g. 你就赶快开始~吧) [积聚、储存钱款]
  5. If it is a new character, I do the same process as (5): 送 --> V. deliver; carry (e.g. ~电; 移~); give as a present (e.g. ~给); see sb. off/out; accompany (e.g. 欢~) [把东西运去或带给对方]
  6. Then I study like normal
  7. Every week to two weeks I go through and ban the words which come up for writing (via the Legacy Skritter website)


  1. I can add a lot of words. This is a good thing for me as I want to build up my reading comprehension.
  2. The algorithm pushes out those words which I get right when I know the character well (i.e. its definition and tone). Sometimes I have seen words that are pushed out to three months if I have gotten them correctly the first time. I don’t mind this so much because I am not studying for a test and if I get the word again in three months and get it wrong, then the frequency will increase.
  3. It allows me to add in quickly a lot of words that I have encountered before. I did nuke my account two years back from a 7000-word base, so I am finding that for words that were part of this list they were easy to add in without ballooning my reviews


  1. I don’t think this process would work for people who are studying each week formally and would like constant reviewing. I guess that is where Pleco or ANKI would more come in handy.

  2. I am not getting tested on English to Chinese recall. I found that when I was testing myself with writing that was an ancillary benefit as I would vocalise or sub-vocalise the pronunciation. In another thread, I will post a feature request for having Definition to Pronunciation review a feature in Skritter. I do know that other apps have this feature (e.g. ANKI and Pleco), but I would like to have all my reviews integrated within the one app.

Apologies for the length, but if this helps just one person then I will be happy. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! :slight_smile:

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Thanks for sharing! Reviewing certain subsections of all your cards can definitely save time, but how good it is naturally depends on what your goals are. Like you say, if a formal course or similar requires you to be able to write all the words by hand, then disabling that is probably bad. However, if you have a test of some kind, you should just use Test mode as that is specifically designed to practise a certain section of your cards outside of normal scheduling (this would be akin to cramming in Anki). Spaced repetition is great, but cramming is better in the short term.

I think we can do more to figure out neat ways of handling different types of prompts (writing, definition, tone, etc.), because it’s quite likely that users have different requirements for different prompts. For example, I only write single characters by hand in Skritter. The reason I do so is similar to yours: It saves a lot of time (which is true regardless of the size of the due queue, of course).

Changes in this area require some serious thought, though, because it already is quite complicated to deal with words, characters that are part of words, simplified and traditional, different prompts, and so on. Just figuring out how it ought to work is not easy even in theory! We are discussing these question on a regular basis, though, but we’ll see if and when something gets done about it.

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