Studying flashcards and smart category functionality

Hi! I have been happily using Pleco for several years now and I love this product and do not regret any investment I made buying functionalities and dictionaries.
For the last two years, I have been studying at the Confucius Institute and they use NPCR (New Practical Chinese Reader). It is pretty intense in terms of vocabulary. I am about HSK 4 level, but with NPCR, the grammar level is closer to HSK 3 whereas the vocabulary (thanks to Pleco's tags) has a lot of words in HSK 5 and 6.
For each class, I create a new category with the date of the course.
This means that each class brings about 50 news words every week and when I include the old words I forgot as well the new combinations of characters, the category I create for each class goes above 100.
I make a point of studying the flashcards about 20' every day. There are words, of course, that are hard to memorize, and I make them high priority. But then, if I am let's say at course number 10, there are also words from course number 1 or 2 that "fell off the truck".
So, because of the number of words, spaced repetition reaches a physical limit. I cannot have 1000 words to work with. So I study the flashcards from the last course and when I have time, I also go backwards, but not too far because by then, I have a new course.
NPCR is well built in the sense that each chapter keeps bringing back some previously studied words, but still, there are many "hard to learn" words that go under the radar.
To go around that hurdle, I create a category that is made of "high priority" flashcards. But I have to do this manually at regular intervals. It would be nice to have "smart categories" that would correspond to a given set of criteria and would automatically update. I could, for instance, study all the cards that correspond to high-priority and are in a given range of categories. What do you guys think?


Staff member
Sorry, what criteria would determine 'high-priority' here?

We already do support a little bit of this with our 'card filters' feature, which lets you layer additional criteria on top of your selected categories, and we're adding many other types of filters in our next big update, but I'm not quite clear on how you're determining which cards are high priority / how we might be able to do that for you - do you basically just want SRS to be prioritized by how recently you started reviewing this card?
Thanks for your question and sorry for not being clearer on this.

There are cards that I consider important for me to learn (say, health-related stuff lately 病毒 and such). so I go into "card info" and I modify their priority as shown in the image below.

These "high priority" cards may be part of the syllabus (i.e. hard to learn or important), or, as I just mentioned above, may be connected to personal interest.

Obviously, I regularly stumble upon words that I find corresponding to these criteria and therefore, the number of cards that I call "high-priority" increases. It also decreases as I learn them.

I will now reframe this within the scope of a syllabus that adds between fifty and one hundred new words every week for nine months in a row. Indeed some of the words are not new, but they kind of "fell off the truck". But in the end, it is a lot of words.

Now, for me (I am not saying it is the case for everyone), Pleco's SRS does exactly the job. It is the volume that at some point becomes hard to manage. If I created a category for one year of NPCR, including the related words and such, I would have over a thousand cards and I cannot realistically study such a huge volume (even if tweaked the SRS out of shape, knowing I am happy with the standard settings)

As I explained in my post above, I went around the problem by creating a category for each class, which allows me to focus on the urgent (that is what we are going to be asked about next class). In other words, I am chunking a huge category into smaller ones. Then there are the previous classes to which I go back to whenever I can, either because the topics are related to the chapter we are studying or for some other reason.

Above I mentioned the urgent (what we are supposed to be learning for the next class), but there is also the important, which contains the cards that are either useful to me or hard to learn).

My idea would be to be able to study one or two categories every week (which I already do) and be able to study a category that would automatically contain all the cards that correspond to, say, high or very high priority, and that were created or updated since, for example, October last year. That category would therefore be a "smart" category in the sense that once I have created the filters (i.e created/updated after October + high priority + score <4000), all the cards that correspond to those filters would automatically populate that category. The benefit would be that I would then be able to work with the filters only once.

Thank you



Staff member
OK. It seems like in that case we're already most of the way there with the existing 'card filter' option, the main problem is that it doesn't currently offer a way to filter by priority (though it can filter by score + created/updated since a particular date). Is that correct?

It should be possible to filter by priority in 4.0, though we're actually not using priorities at all in the new default Pleco profile (instead you'll simply be able to set up an arbitrary filter to designate some cards as more critical for long-term reviews).

In the meantime, one way you could get something like this functionality in our current app would be to simply stop assigning priorities through Card Info and instead create a category for high-priority cards, put your high priority cards into that, and run tests on that category. You can find all of your existing high priority cards to put them into that category via the search function in Organize, and if you ever want to go back and set the Card Info priority for any newly added cards, you can do that via a batch command in Organize too.