What important words are missing from HSK and TOCFL?

I just published an article where I try to analyse what important words are missing from various HSK levels. “Missing” here is defined as being very common, but yet not on HSK. To qualify for the list, a word needs to be twice as common as indicated on HSK, so if a word is on frequency rank 1-300, it’s considered missing in HSK if it’s not on HSK 1-3, which covers twice that much, or 600 words. I then did a bunch of manual sorting and culling, because comparing word lists is very tricky (most results you get are thing that are not actually words and are missing from HSK simply because the compliers of that list ignored them for that reason, such as 这个 or 哪些). Here’s the article:

I also put together a deck in Skritter you can use to easily study words that you really should know, but might have missed if you focus heavily on the HSK decks. See it as the unofficial companion deck to the standard HSK decks, if you will. Here’s a link to the deck:

Important words missing from HSK Skritter deck

There is also a version for TOCFL, although I used a different frequency list which leads to different results.

Skritter deck for the missing words in TOCFL

Update: I have now added separate sections for delayed vocabulary. That is, words that are in HSK, but which are included much later than their frequency rank, meaning that they have been shifted down the HSK lists in favour of words the creators thought learners should/want/need to learn first. You can thus study only the missing vocabulary, the delayed vocabulary or both!


Thanks for this companion list, Olle!

I’ll see if I can create a TOCFL version next week. :slight_smile:

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Okay, TOCFL version is now online:

Skritter deck available here:



Are these lists available from browsing lists? Do the all begin with “Important” or “what” as a title?

I went to the link and “added lists to queue” but they are not showing up in my library of word lists and they are not showing up when using search in browse.

So how to study them?

On topic of browsing, I hope the team will fix the problems with this soon.

It’s actually very tedious if not impossible to “browse” because every time I check out a list, I get taken back to the very top of all the lists when I click the back button, so that I have to scroll all the way down but slowly not to miss the list I just checked out, in order to continue to browse.

After a few efforts like this, one just gives up on “browsing.” So your vast resources are surely not being exploited anywhere close to what they could be.

I could not find these lists in the iOS app. I had to go to the web version of Skritter, and start studying the list, and then set it into review only mode. After that, THEN the list appeared on the iOS app.

Search “TOCFL” or “HSK” on Browse and they’ll both show at the bottom of the search results and can be studied.

Hope that helps!


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Browsing decks casually can certainly be improved. We have issues open for the stuff you’ve mentioned, and we look forward to fixing this up in a future version of the app. It isn’t an easy fix, but it is certainly on our radar.

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Now they show up…odd. Some sort of synch delay? When I search for “missing”, both lists appear now. But a while ago, they didn’t appear.

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Not sure. I did promote them to official decks yesterday, so it might have taken a bit of time for them to populate in our database.

Glad ya found them!

Would you be willing to remix and publish a list of HSK level n plus all the stuff that should have been in there but isn’t? I am studying HSK not because I am preparing to take the test, but I just defaulted to it as a frequency list to try to shore up all the gaps in my reading / writing vocabulary from studying a lot of specialized stuff without really mastering the basics.

Skritter allows you to study multiple lists simultaneously. I’m curious what you see as the difference between adding two lists to your studies, versus remixing them into a single list?

On my study docket, I have HSK lists, NPCR lists, lists from my tutoring sessions, lists from words I come across monthly, and others. I’m so used to working across lists, that it seems odd to want to mix them up into any type of “mashup”.

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Yes, this is the intended approach for the HSK/TOCFL lists I created. Students are recommended to work their way through a given level before looking at the words for that level in my lists. I’m not in any way claiming that these words are more important than those that are in fact on the lists.

Actually, it would be possible to study HSK and then a frequency list at the same time, then proceed roughly twice as fast in HSK as in the frequency list, which would achieve much the same result as my project here. The only problem would be that you’d get hundreds of items you already know (but don’t need to add) or things that aren’t words (I discarded all those manually, see the original article). In a language other than Chinese, this wouldn’t be necessary. :slight_smile:

Same here: showed up today but not yesterday.

I know that you can select multiple lists for study during a single session in the mobile iOS beta app. I did not think it was possible on the desktop web site, which is what I mostly use. I suppose I could delete everything from my study queue and just add two lists. I never study my entire queue any more these days anyway.

@podster I don’t use the website any longer, but when I log in to it, it shows me actively adding words from 14 different lists and reviewing words from another 5.

So, on the website, you can set multiple lists into “study” mode, and have as many lists as you like.

Edit: aha, I think you are talking about reviewing a single list (test mode on the new app) versus adding it to your regular daily study queue. In that case, I don’t know what capabilities the web offers.

Yes, I am probably using the wrong word. In the iOS beta app I click on “continuous” and then tick the boxes for list or lists I want to “review” (The word “review” appears after clicking “continuous.” Then I select a list or lists and will see only words from them and not from anything else that might happen to be in my queue or added from lists that I am currently “studying from.” In the legacy and in the 2.0 web versions you have the options to study a single vocabulary list but not multiple. I don’t even think you can do that in the current (legacy) iOS app. I think the current beta has added so many features (multiple lists, “rawest squigs” bigger fonts, etc. that it’s going to be a much better user experience for everyone.