Using Pleco flashcards for HSK

Yaqub Beg

Hey guys,
I am planning on using the in-built SRS flashcard system with the supplied HSK flashcards. I have a few random questions for your consideration.

1. Is there a specific dictionary I should map cards to? I use the ABC C-E usually but sometimes the definitions are a little weird when I make the test prompt for characters when it gives me the definition only, and it sometimes makes simple words surprisingly hard to guess for that reason.
2. Are there any special features for smartphones with in-built styluses, such as the Galaxy Note 4 for instance?
3. Are there any pro-tips I should know about before embarking on this journey? (Is there anything you'd wished you had known before starting SRS?) =)
4. Is there a better tool or method to use to build vocab? I'm also using ChinesePod for listening practice

I have read a few threads discussing this (for instance on the Anki vs. Pleco debate) but they were a few years old so perhaps the answers are different today.

All the best :D


Hi Yaqub,

let me try to answer your questions in order:

1. I suggest you take a dictionary whose definitions have the amount of detail you want. I like the Oxford Chinese Dictionary a bit better than the ABC Dictionary, but your own experience with the dictionaries should be the best guide here. If you are really a beginning learner, Tuttle has good simplified dictionaries with simpler example sentences.
2. You should be able to use the stylus instead of the finger to draw the characters (works very well on an iPad Pro), or what features did you think of in particular?
3. Make sure you hit the right number of cards introduced every day. To do that, you need to calculate using a formula containing all the SRS parameters. If you find SRS too fiddly (for the current version 3.2, not for version 4.0), you may still use the Random card selection with categories that have been split into smaller chunks, then switch between learning directions and use card filters to review cards that have many incorrect answers. You can also check out the end of this thread for a guide on SRS:

4. For Chinese, Pleco ought to be the best because of the comprehensiveness of the feature set at your fingertips.

There are quite a few newer threads on learning strategies, as well.

All the best,


Yaqub Beg

Thanks for your reply, Shun. This is very helpful advice. :) About the stylus, I was just planning on getting a phone with this feature so I was wondering how the experience was generally. (definitely a niche question haha) But this is more of a side detail.
- Do flashcards with SRS every single day, it really works
- Try to find some metrics to track your progress, it helps stay motivated. For example I use the "number of flashcards learned" number in statistics which I write down in a spreadsheet every now and then, so I can see the progress
- Spend time exploring the options in Pleco - there are so many options, I believe it can fulfill everybody's needs.
- I feel that 1 app every day is better than 3 apps sometimes

4) Building vocab... in my case I have been watching movies, series or reading books, looking up words with Pleco and adding to my flashcards.


re: dictionaries - when I am learning a flash card, I just accept the default dictionary entry. If the entry doesn't jive with what I have been taught, then I'll flick through the different definitions until I find an entry that I prefer and associate that with the flash card instead.

It is important to set your dictionary order first though. I currently have it as, my user dict, Pleco CE, Tuttle CE...