5 Ways to Order Your Anki Flashcards

You have your cards. You have your mind. Now let the two play. But before this begins, did you think of order? Everything has an order and Anki is no different. Many people just assume you catch whatever Anki throws at you. But you control Anki’s throw and adjusting it can make a major difference.

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There are 5 major orders that will affect how you review your cards.

Options Order

Go to the options setting of your deck. If you don’t like deck merging, and have multiple decks, you can individually change the options of each deck (which requires an extra step of adding a new options group).

5 Ways to Order Your Anki Flashcards 1

You have two options:

1. Show new cards in random order
2. Show new cards in order added

5 Ways to Order Your Anki Flashcards 2

Deciding between these two is extremely simple.

● If you are doing a deck that is ordered based on difficulty, or i+1 (ex. any of the Jalup decks), you absolutely need to do it in order added. Otherwise you will end up seeing cards that cover too much information you haven’t learned yet.

● If you are doing a deck that has random new information (ex. place names, people names, vocabulary, etc.) then you can choose either one. Usually you’d still want to follow the order the deck creator chose, unless you want some variety. For example, you don’t need to learn 20 animals, 20 family members, or 20 flavors of Kit Kat in a row. You can mix this up for a little freedom.

5 Ways to Order Your Anki Flashcards 7

Preference Order

While I think these settings should be in the same area, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to get these next set of options (or preferences). Go to tools > preferences.

5 Ways to Order Your Anki Flashcards 3

You have three preferences:

  1. Mix new cards and reviews
  2. Show new cards after reviews
  3. Show new cards before review

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While the choice between the  2 deck options is usually a given, with preferences there is more flexibility for you to choose how you want to review your cards. There are no requirements, but a few things you probably want to consider.

● “Show new cards before reviews” should not be used when you are using a pre-made deck. Especially one with hundreds of cards. If you do this, the reviews will take forever to come around.

● “Show new cards after reviews” is useful when you have a major backlog of Anki reviews, and you don’t want new cards to slow you down.

● “Mix new cards and reviews” is good sometimes, because even when you have reviews, occasionally seeing something new adds fun and excitement.

What’s your order?

How do you order your Anki reviews?


Show new cards in order added
Switch between Mix new cards and reviews + Show new cards after reviews

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


5 Ways to Order Your Anki Flashcards — 19 Comments

  1. I would never put new cards before reviews, that just sounds awful.
    The new site layout looks pretty good. I feel like the article text is a bit too big though personally.

    • I guess new cards before reviews is only useful temporarily when you absolutely want to do new and only new cards.

      After a few comments about it, I decided to dropped the font size 2 points. I think this works better now. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I order my flashcards the same way as Adam.

    On the subject of site layout, I miss the old one, but the new one looks really great. I think it’s a nice improvement, and kind of like a breath of fresh air. (Not that the old site was bad, though!) However, on my iPad, everything feels really… big? I’m not sure how to describe it. The feeling is sort of like I can’t see everything on the home page at once like the old layout. I also miss the recent comments box on the side; one could see at a glance if there were any new comments. The comments tab at the top isn’t quite the same, I think.

  3. A while ago this topic came up in the Jalup Line group… I don’t remember who mentioned it, but I want to repeat the tip here since I found it quite interesting and useful.

    As mentioned it is probably a good idea to get your reviews before new cards however sometimes you want some new cards just to keep your motivation up. One way of getting this besides the ones mentioned in the article is to cap your daily amount of reviews. In the Options tab called Reviews you can set a maximum amount of reviews per day (defaults to 100 I think). If you hit that amount you will then get your new cards even though there might be more reviews for the day. After doing the amount of new cards you want you can do a “Custom study” and select the option for increasing the review cap for today.

    Regarding the new site layout I agree that the font size seem a little too big. With the old layout it was too small for me, but I just zoomed my browser a bit and all was good then. However if you use the browser to zoom out the current page layout becomes kind of “thin”, which isn’t as nice to look at. It’s better to zoom in than out in the browser it appears.

    • Yes, daily cap is also a good alternative, as it accomplishes the similar goal of allowing new cards to be reviewed.

      And as mentioned above, I lowered the font 2 points (it’s still a good deal bigger than the original site’s font at 12px).

    • Another way is that you can mix new cards and reviews. This ensures that you get atleast some new cards, but avoid the guilt of not doing the reviews first.

  4. I recently switched to showing reviews before new cards and it made a great difference to my performance in Kanji Kingdom. It lets me zip through the reviews without getting bogged down with learning new ones, and my retention of the new kanji cards turns out to be a lot better when they’re all done as one unit. Loving it.

    It’s a little bit different with the sentence deck (just at the end of Jalup Beginner). The reviews are simple enough again, but then remembering a lot of new readings at once and getting a healthy dose of “… why do I just not understand this sentence” all at the end makes it a little bit more intimidating than before, but I still love it. This actually made me wish that you could change the order on a deck-by-deck basis as well (I’m too lazy to bother switching back and forth, hahah).

    • Yeah, I think most people like reviews before new cards (and depending on the size of their reviews, they will artificially set a daily limit)

      Your “why do I just not understand this sentence” will eventually turn into “why is this sentence so easy…”

  5. I order my cards very similar to most other folks here, but with a bit of a twist: instead of explicitly setting the “reviews first, new cards second” option, I set zero new cards per day on my decks and then manually add new cards after I finish my reviews. I don’t have a great reason for doing this — the only practical advantage is I can be flexible about how many new cards I add per day. (Though it’s almost always 15, unless things start to pile up.)

    There is a psychological boost though, in that if I don’t have time to do new cards I don’t feel like I’m “missing” anything — I still have all zeros staring me in the face on the deck summary screen. Then when I do add new cards (which is most of the time), I feel like I’m getting some bonus reviews in, almost.

    • This is the technique I use too. So much a habit now, I plain forgot the difference until you mentioned it :)

    • I’m liking the twist. Anki flexibility is key, and it’s great to be able to set it exactly the way you want.

  6. Oh, and since others seem to be using this article as a vehicle to discuss the new site layout, allow me to say: I like it! For whatever that’s worth :D

  7. I’ve just switched to new cards before reviews in my starter deck. 0 new cards per day. I set how many I want manually each day. It makes no difference to me if I keep up with reviews or not. The purpose of the deck is to check for errors and start getting familiar with cards.

    Cards that make it to mature are split off into review only decks. Where I review depending on how many cards are waiting. 5? pfft whatever, over 100? probably should chip some of them off.

    My pass rate varies wildly, but it feels far more enjoyable than when I had 90%+ on passes everyday.

  8. Anki really needs a “space boxing” feature. Time boxing has not worked well for me. When I have a lot of reviews, there is little to no repetition in the short time interval.

    I like to take 20 cards though, and iterate until they are “done”. It only takes a couple of short minutes. The tricker cards iterate more and faster, and recall the next day is amazing. Since these bursts are so quick I can space them through the day and eat through a large backlog quite easily.

    It can be done in Anki using a filtered deck, only problem is the iPhone app won’t let you refill the deck. :(

    To keep on topic, for me it is reviews before new cards always! Also I don’t like to mix them, since the pacing is different, reviews should be fast, but I prefer to take time to build mental associations for new cards.

  9. I’ve personally found that if I set my new cards to 0 on every deck, and then once I’m done completely reviewing my deck, I add new cards by clicking on the deck and going with “custom study – increase today’s new card limit”.

    Then I learn about 10 new cards at a time (my goal is around 20-30 new cards per day).

    It helps me not get super frustrated with reviewing and makes learning the new cards a whole lot quicker.

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