How to Use Anki Intelligent Flashcards

I just started using the free Anki intelligent flashcard program. It is recommend it for, “Anyone who needs to remember things in daily life.” It is so easy to use I suspect it will become a staple in my toolbox.

I can add anything I want to remember to a deck, from basic words to images, audio, videos… even scientific markup. When I have downtime in my day I launch the program from any computer or phone (since you can sync it online) and go through a few cards at a time.

First, a quick look at the basics:

  • Cards. A card is the essential element of the tool. Each card is a question and answer pair with a “front” and “back.” When you study, Anki shows you the front of the card. You click “Show Answer” to see the back. Then you let the system know how soon you want to see that card again (more on this later). Technically, you are adding “notes” and Anki creates the cards from the notes. There are four types of notes, but the basic is just a single question and answer.
  • Decks. These are collections of individual cards. Each deck can hold up to 100,000 cards. A deck can also hold other decks. I created a deck for the subject I am learning and could later create individual decks of categories so I can choose more focused study. Cards can be re-assigned to different decks, and decks can be moved and renamed.

Here is how I use the tool:

  1. Create a new deck. I’m using Anki to learn Ukrainian (my wife’s native language) so I created a deck called “Ukrainian.” In the future I may divide the deck into specific topics, but for now I’m just keeping everything in one.
  2. Add cards to the deck. I add new words, making sure I have the proper deck selected. I also include a tag (this may be how I divide them up later).
  3. Start studying. The deck shows me  how many new cards were added or how many are due to study. The default setting is to review only 100 cards at a time and to cycle the cards no less than every four days (of course this can be modified in the deck settings). I click the deck to start studying.
  4. Review the assigned cards. As a card comes up it shows how many are left to study (the numbers at the bottom from left to right represent: new cards; cards needing extra learning; and cards up for review). Once I’ve answered the question (or admitted defeat), I click “Show Answer.”
  5. Assess my knowledge. If I didn’t know the answer, I click “Again” to review in less than a minute. If I got close, I click “Good” to review within ten minutes. If I nailed it, I click “Easy” which puts it aside to study again in four days. (From this window I can also edit the card if I need to.)
  6. Carry on. That’s it. Once I’ve made it through the assigned cards it gives me a warm congratulations and I move on with my day.

What could you use Anki flashcards for?