How To Use Cheat Sheets

Although I really like spaced repetition software, I still found I miss some general overview of the things I learned, and that is the whole reason I made cheat sheets. I have been making and using them for years and they help me enormously with long-term retention.

Step One: Learn some new words or characters and locate them on the cheat sheets

You can use Anki or Pleco. Or you can just look up some interesting words from books, TV shows, newspapers, or podcasts. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you find the words you know on the cheat sheets.

I’m currently making complementary Anki decks, so when you’re going through the deck – it follows the same order as the cheat sheets. This should make things easier for you since you wouldn’t have to go through the hundreds of words until you find the one you know.

Step two: Mark what you know on the cheat sheets

After you found the word you know, label it on the cheat sheets. I recommend using different colors for different tones. Or you can just underline or circle the words you learned.

Step three: Go through the cheat sheets at least once a week.

The whole point of the cheat sheets is to give you condensed information on small pieces of paper, which you can work over in a short amount of time. The goal is to test what you know and to improve it if you don’t know it.

Step four: Eliminate your weak points

You can go through the cheat sheets and mark the words that you find really hard to memorize, look them up later or just be more attentive to those Anki/Pleco cards the next time they show up.

Characters cheat sheets

  • contain characters for each level, in order of their first appearance in the vocabulary list
  • multiple pronunciations each character attains in the entire HSK opus are shown, in order of their first appearance in the vocabulary list
  • characters also have short and concise translations
  • some characters, which only attain the neutral tone, were also written with their default tone (for example, the character 楚 chu > 楚 chu chǔ)

Vocabulary cheat sheets

  • the words are sorted by their tones, for example:
  • category “1” means the following characters are pronounced with the first tone
  • category “10” means the following characters are pronounced with first and neutral tones
  • category “1*” means the first character of the word is pronounced with the first tone
  • some words have been shown multiple times (for example, 还 as both huán and hái)
  • tone changes are already accounted for
  • this cheat sheet should prove the most useful for reviews, especially if you are studying with the complementary Anki decks