Suggestions for improving study efficiency

(update from an earlier post)

What suggestions do you have to make Skritter an even more efficient learning tool?
Below are some of mine.

  1. Retention rate check
    Are the user set Retention rates achieved? The displayed Retention rates seem different between 2.0 and legacy website. Which ones are correct? Does the current SRS algorithm really allow the users to achieve the goals set by the user? I do all my daily reviews but can’t seem to get close to my desired retention rate.

  2. Don’t show the definition for tone prompts
    If I see a character and the definition, I will typically automatically translate the English, and draw the tone. Often without even looking at the character at all. There is a solution available with a setting “hide definition”, but that leads to definition prompts appearing with no info at all. Do we need “hide definition only for tone prompts”?

  3. Hide number of characters required
    Maybe I don’t know the difference between 寂寞 and 孤零零, but seeing just two boxes makes me enter the right word for a given prompt.

  4. Integration of sample sentences
    I believe sample sentences are already better integrated in the beta app.

  5. Study burst
    Sometimes we have extra time to study and want to use this time to reinforce our knowledge of our existing corpus. Should there be a special mode for this, or should we just continue going through prompts after the due counter is at zero? What is an efficient use of study-time?

  6. Hints
    Skritter automatically shows a hint if you make a wrong stroke. Sometimes after the first wrong stroke, sometimes after five wrong strokes. I think hints are silly and I would like to be able to turn them off. Should show hints be optional/manual?

  7. Breakdown of characters
    Character breakdown is only available for single-character prompts, would be useful if we can dig that deep also for multi-character words. I believe this is already in the works. It would greatly help efficient memorization.

  8. Create a searchable personal dictionary
    Users can search this dictionary on definition, on pinyin, on character, on character component - and also modify. If I learn today that a word I learned previously has an additional meaning, I can now not easily find and modify that word. Or: display all characters containing a 青 component. Or: give me all words from my dictionary that have a ‘shi’ as toneless pinyin. This can help users find and investigate characters they often mix up.

  9. Ditch the apostrophe’
    The crux of the biscuit, is killing the apostrophe. If the user already knows the second character sounds something like /an/ /ai/ /ge/ or whatever, it will be much easier to think of the requested word. Whether the user can also think of the correct word in real life when such apostrophes do not appear remains to be seen. Developer has already shared that the apostrophe will be ditched in an upcoming version.

  10. English -> Target language prompt
    There is only one prompt testing English to Chinese translation, which is the writing prompt. I find myself losing a lot of time doing these prompts over and over. Not because I don’t know how to write the character, but because I can’t think of the Chinese word. Does anyone else experience this? Do you have a tip for me on how to tackle this problem? One rather rigorous option was would be to add a 5th prompt type Translate.

  11. Use Skritter back-end statistics
    Skritter has tons of data on users’ results on prompts. Can this data be leveraged to make learning more efficient? Some examples to clarify what I mean:
    UserA has a very low retention rate for tones, on average going through four times as many Wrong prompts as other users. The SRS is tweaked for this user to ask tone prompts at half the standard intervals.
    While all users learn a new character after an average of 15 prompts, there are some that require an average of 40 prompts. Skritter(-users) could create a database with notes for such characters that help new users to learn it. When a user newly adds this character he is notified “notoriously difficult character, want to consult the info-file?”.
    Both new and experienced users may find it interesting to read articles like “Skritter users on average learn their 100th character after 81 study hours. Users that study every single day reduce this to 52 hours”.

I invite all to comment, add and criticize.


I appreciate you taking the time to write all this down! There are some great suggestions in here. Some we’re already working on, and others are good ideas that we can certainly consider for the future.

We’ve got a bunch of updates coming soon that are focused on the study experience and list progression and tracking. I’m hoping that they help all of us find inspiring new ways that we can build a killer study tool. Feel free to keep updating things on your list or adding additional comments below after the new update drops!


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