Should I nuke and focus on radicals & characters before resuming words?

I’ve been Skrittering for about half a year and am in the middle of HSK 4, and I think learning words has started to get a little less efficient than it could be. I’m seeing many repeated characters and radicals, but I don’t know the true meanings of very many of them at all, and I think that’s impeding my progress considerably. I think that first learning all the radicals, then learning the characters I need for words, then finally learning the words, would provide a stronger base for progressing further and more efficiently, since I’ll be able to build every new word/character I learn upon my existing radical/character knowledge base.

However, here’s my question: would it be overly reckless to delete all my data and start over, beginning with the radicals? It feels more and more like I’m just mindlessly doing my reviews of old words these days, not really understanding what the characters mean or creating false mnemonics for the characters that don’t really represent their meaning in a desperate attempt to learn the word. It’s awfully tempting for me to nuke and start from scratch, but I can’t figure out whether that’s just an irrational desire for change that I should ignore or a spark of inspiration that I should capitalize on.

Any thoughts?

You can pause your current lists and just focus on the Radicals list.

This is a great idea if you’re really looking to focus on other stuff for a while. No need to delete things, just pause stuff for a bit and focus efforts elsewhere.

I would not recommend nuking account and starting over. It is a lot of work to start fresh and build up a good queue of items to review. Instead, perhaps eliminate a few lists from study or pause lists so that you’re not getting too many new items at once.

Also, radical lists are great, but I wouldn’t spend too much time focusing on them either. Character acquisition theory suggests that characters can be acquired with the least amount of stress by learning components in context of characters/words. So, when you see a character you’re struggling with, that can be the perfect time to break it down and analyze. Maybe write a mnemonic for yourself to help make the character form, meaning, and pronunciation stick.

Not entirely related to your topic, but another user was asking about using HSK lists to guide them toward literacy, and I wrote a reply there you might also find helpful: IS HSK a good guidance for general reading literacy?

Good luck on the journey and happy studying!


I thought when you paused lists, they were still in “review” mode.

How do you pause a set of lists and have those list items not show up during reviews?

You can single study a list to not see words from other list(s), pausing a list will make sure nothing else is added in the standard study mode!

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Got it! I thought there was some new capability I had not run across. I appreciate the clarification!

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I can recommend learning tge most common radicals, but not too many. I would say maybe the most common 50-100 are useful. If you learn more than that, you will likely forget them again.

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