October 14, 2022

October 14, 2022 - Review Sets

Hello everyone!

It's been a hot minute since the last update, but that just means this one is all the more overdue and full of goodness! So, we're back with an update that everyone has been wanting: Review Sets.

Review Sets

One of the questions that we get quite a bit in our community is "How do I review more?" or "I am struggling with this flashcard, can I add it to a custom flashcard deck so that I can review it more?" We wanted to make sure we answered this question in a way that aligns with NativShark's core principles while also giving our students ways to do things in a manner that suits them.

In short-- Review Sets are a way for you to quickly review groups of content as much as you want, without affecting SRS intervals or the progression system that runs in the background. Even more than that, they are the first step towards students being able to essentially create their own study content within NativShark, to enhance their core study experience in a unique way. We've even added the ability to share the review content that you create with fellow students via a link. More on that later though.

Since review sets are quite a significant feature, we've put together the video below as a quick walkthrough.


Review sets have a logical structure that mimics the structure we use in NativShark Core. Let's walk through some terminology so that we're all on the same page!

  • Review Set – a review set can be thought of like a milestone in the NativShark progression system, it holds many review units
  • Review Unit – a review unit works the same way as a unit in NativShark Core and can hold up to 4 materials (defined below) and 15 cards
  • Material – a material is a lesson or a dialogue; a unit can have up to 4 lessons or dialogues (you can mix and match these)
  • Card – a flashcard or sentence from anywhere within NativShark; a unit can have up to 15 of these

When you study a review set, you are presented with the content in the same order that you encounter them when learning a new unit in NativShark-- materials followed by cards. Before we talk about the process of reviewing a review set, let's take a look at how you create them and add materials/cards to them.

Same-sama putting books into their backpack

Meet the Backpack

You will notice a new backpack icon in various places around NativShark. This backpack represents your review sets and is what you will use to fill them with various content. We chose a backpack because we want you to think of review sets as a place where you tuck away anything you want to take an extra close look at later, or practice on your own, outside of the Core curriculum. Just like a backpack you'll be able to store and retrieve any content you place in there for later. This backpack is with you at all times and will get smarter over time to provide even more benefits.

Let's take a look at some of the different places that you'll see the backpack on the site now:

The backpack is at the top of each lesson, allowing you to add that lesson to a review set
It also appears alongside every sentence inside of a lesson, allowing you to add that sentence to a review set
Our favorite backpack is quite busy on the dialogues page. You'll find it at the bottom, allowing you to add the entire dialogue to a review set, as well as next to each phrase of the dialogue, allowing you to add individual lines to your review sets
If you're in the middle of your reviews and you encounter a card that always gives you trouble, the backpack is there allowing you to add that card to any of your review sets
It's also in the flashcard browser, allowing you to quickly add any of your flashcards to a review set

Keeping it Simple

As part of the NativShark philosophy, we wanted to make it simple to add content to your review sets from anywhere as well as create new review sets if needed.

The image above shows what happens if you click on the backpack icon for a vocabulary card. On the left you will see a preview of the card (vocabulary, lesson, custom, or kanji) and on the right side you see a list of your review sets. From here you can create a new review set, add it to any review sets that you have created, as well as remove it from any review sets it is already a part of. This flow makes it so that you do not have to go anywhere else to make a review set and add content to it – you can do it all from the content itself.

This extends beyond simply adding the materials to a review set, though. As we mentioned above, review sets can contain any number of units. What if you want to add a material to a specific unit within a review set? We've thought of that as well ✨

When you click on the arrow to the right of any of the review sets, you are shown the units that are in that review set. Here you can quickly filter the units by their name to get to the one you want as well as add a new unit. If you add a new unit, a new unit is created and the material is added to that unit immediately.

The Way You Want

When you need more fine-tuned control over your review sets, you have access to that as well. You'll notice a new menu entry available under the "Library" menu titled "Review Sets". This is your home for your review sets and where you will go to review them, create any new ones or manage what you have created in the past.

The Review Sets page, showing the "Study" tab and the "Create" tab.

Before we talk about the "Study" tab, allow us to explore the "Create" tab. When you click on "Create", you are presented with two separate tables. One shows you any review sets that you are creating and the other one shows you any review sets that you have published. We will talk more about the publishing/sharing flow for review sets later.

When you are looking at a review set draft, you will see a few more options when it comes to organizing the content within the review set. You can drag and drop units, materials and cards to re-order them or move them to a separate unit. You can also give names to your units, allowing you to logically group them as you see fit.

Share What You've Made

While review sets were designed so that you could tailor them to your own needs, we also understand that it can be useful to either share what you've made or use something someone else has put together. While we don't currently have support for publicly-searchable review sets, we do allow people to share review sets they've created with others via a link.

Inside of the "Admin" dropdown, you will find actions that allow you (the creator) to manage your review set

All review sets are published as "Private" by default, though this status can be changed at any time. By switching the status to "Link Only", you can send the URL of that page to anyone and they will be able to start studying that review set, including any custom flashcards that you have added to it! We want to mention that you can change this setting at any time. If you change your review set from "Link Only" to "Private", anyone who was studying the review set loses access to it and are notified that the sharing status of the review set has changed.

Those of you who are more eagle-eyed may have noticed the "Make Copy" button. We wanted to make it so that review sets can be copied and updated by anyone so that they can make things their way. Perhaps someone likes a review set the way it is and doesn't want updates to it, or maybe they like the review set but want to remove some lessons that they don't need to review. By making a copy, they create a draft containing everything from the original review set except custom flashcards. When custom flashcards are created in NativShark, they are 'owned' by the account that created them, and that creator is responsible for their content. Since you do not own another accounts' custom flashcards, they are not included in the copy you made.

Iterate On What You've Made

After creating a review set and publishing it, it's likely that you'll want to make changes to it. In order to preserve the user experience for all who are reviewing that set, we wanted to make sure any changes that are made are contained to a single update. The way we went about this was by creating a "draft" system.

Once a review set is published, it can no-longer be edited, however this does not mean that it can't be changed. To update a review set that has been published, first you create a draft of that review set, edit the draft, and then publish that draft. Anyone reviewing or looking at the review set will receive a notice that a new version has been published and prompt them to either restart their session with the new version or to refresh the page.

Another benefit of the draft system is that you are free to experiment and make changes without committing to them. If you decide that you don't like the changes you've made, you can simply delete the draft. The published review set remains untouched by this action.

One last note we want to make when it comes to managing your review sets involves deleting review sets. You can delete a draft at any time, but once a review set is published, you must first unpublish the review set before deleting it. This ensures that you are fully aware of what you are doing and do not accidentally delete a published review set, as this action cannot be reversed.

Get to Studying

When you look at a published review set, you will see a "Start Studying" button. By clicking this, you add the review set to your collection of review sets that you are studying. Once you click on it, the interface changes a little bit to reflect the new state that the review set is in:

Inside of the "Manage" dropdown, you will find options to manage the review set as a student (not a creator)

There's a handful of options in here that are mostly self-explanatory, but let's go over them real quick before diving into the most important option ("Start Set"):

  • Start Set – starts a review session for this review set, allowing you to choose which units you would like to review
  • Archive – archives the review set, preventing you from studying from it; this is useful when you don't want to do a review set anymore but would like to keep it around
  • Copy Review Set – this creates a copy of the review set for you to edit, removing any custom flashcards that you did not create
  • Remove from Studies – this removes the review set from your studies, as if you had never started studying it in the first place

Let's jump into the "Start Set" button now and what the review set flow actually looks like.

It's Time to Review

When you click "Start Set", you are shown the units and are able to select specific units to review

Once you've configured the units that you wish to review, you are then placed into your reviews. The process of studying a review set is much like working through a unit in NativShark. You will notice a "Mark as Reviewed" button in lessons and dialogues and by clicking on that you move onto the next item in the review set. Let's look at what working through the above review set looks like now:

A lesson as it appears in a review set.

The first thing that the review set had in it was a lesson, and so we are presented with the lesson. Notice the banner at the top of the screen that lets you know which review set and which unit you are in. This banner stays pinned at the top of the page as you scroll down so that you never lose track of where you are. At the bottom of the lesson, you are presented with a familiar footer that allows you to update your comprehension rating (if you are looking at a lesson you've completed in your core studies) and move onto the next part of the review set.

When we finish this lesson, we are then shown the flashcards that are in this unit. You'll notice in the image below that this part looks similar to when you are learning new kanji and vocabulary in NativShark, but it behaves in a very deliberate way.

The way flashcards work in a review set is as follows:

  • You start in "Quiz" mode, which behaves similar to your standard review cycle. You are shown the front of a card and you can click "Show Answer" to flip the card over. Rather than having the 3 options as you do in your normal flashcards, you only have two: "I forgot" and "Got it."
  • Once you go through all of the reviews in "Quiz" mode, any cards that you marked as "I forgot" are shown to you again in "Learning" mode. This allows you to see what you missed in more detail and gives you a chance to commit it to memory again.
  • After going through the "Learning" mode, you return to the "Quiz" mode, but this time you only see the cards that you originally marked as "I forgot." This process loops until you've marked every card as "Got it"

Reading the bullet points above may be slightly confusing, here's is a video that shows this process from start to finish:

After the flashcards, we are then presented with the dialogue that was in unit 2, followed by the flashcards that were in unit 2 (as we would expect).

A dialogue as it appears in the review set

Once you work through the review set, you are returned to your Review Sets overview page.

What You're Studying

When you go to the Review Sets page, you are presented with two tables: one showing your active review sets and another showing your archived review sets.

These tables are fairly straight-forward, though we wanted to call attention to a couple of areas. If you have previously started studying a review set and did not finish it, the review set will remember what your next task was and will show you what you are going to do if you click "Review". It also keeps track of how many times you've done a review set as well. You can archive any active review sets by selecting their checkbox and clicking the "Archive selected" button that appears.

When a review set is archived, you are able to unarchive it or remove it from your studies entirely. To unarchive it, you can either click on the button in the table or click the checkbox for the review sets that you wish to unarchive via the "Unarchive selected" button that appears. To remove it from your studies, you click on the checkbox and then click the "Remove selected from studies" button that appears.

Some Last Notes on Review Sets

With review sets, we are testing a few different things under the hood. This means that you may notice things render slightly differently during your reviews and that some behavior has been enhanced (such as hovering over words in the flashcard sentences to highlight the corresponding literal). These are tests that we are running to see if our new approach to rendering things gives us the flexibility we need before we port it back to the other parts of the system. A hidden feature of this new renderer is that you can now copy and paste the Japanese as you would expect!

"ぼくの鼻面白い形だろうお母さんからの遺伝なんだ" was copy-pasted directly from the flashcard

Let us know what you think about this new renderer in our Discord community! We're pretty excited about it and looking forward to updating our older code to be able to take advantage of it.

Patch Notes

While review sets are the main point of this update, there are some other things that we changed as well which we want to talk about below. Read on for some little gems that we are sneaking into this update~

Kanji Flashcards

  • Modified how words are pulled for examples in the kanji flashcards. You are going to notice a lot more words, including conjugations of the same word and names here now. This will get better as our data gets smarter, but for now this is how it works^^ The positive side of this is that you will now have a lot of examples for the kanji rather than just a handful.

Lesson Flashcards

  • Lesson flashcards now show the title of the lesson that they came from rather than the topic of the lesson that they came from. This should make it easier to know which lesson a card came from.

Performance Increases

  • We've done quite a bit of work on our database to improve performance in various places. We are not sure if the effects of this will be noticeable yet, but it's part of a larger optimization goal that we are continually working on in the background.

In Closing

This update has been a long time coming, but we are glad to finally have it ready for release. We are constantly working to improve our data models behind the scenes to enable more rapid development of features and content, stay tuned for more info on that in some future update post! For now, know that we are always listening to your feedback and suggestions and are working to make the platform work for you!

Well, that's all for now :) we hope to see you in our Discord community making friends, giving us your honest opinions, and creating an enjoyable place where everyone can learn and improve their abilities together.

Start learning Japanese

Learning Japanese used to be complex. We made it simple.

Natural phrasing
Authentic audio
Real-world context
*No credit required

Begin your journey today.

Risk-free. No payment information required to sign up.
We'll never share your information with anyone.
Frequently asked questions

Does NativShark teach me everything I need to learn Japanese?

Will NativShark prepare me for the JLPT?

What makes NativShark different from any other resource?

What if I already know some Japanese?

Can I cancel or pause a subscription?

Is there an app?