Super Simple Guide To Using Anki Immediately

Super Simple Guide To Using Anki Immediately 17Anki is the ultimate flash program talked about to death on this site. Once you start using it it becomes second nature to you. However it can be a bit intimidating using and setting up for the first time, especially since it is designed to give the user as much customization and flexibility as possible.

But people like simple. They want simple. You want to download the program and start using it within 30 seconds without any thought or worry about what to do to get going. When it comes to learning programs, every extra minute spent trying to figure out how to set it up increases the likelihood of you never actually using that program. So before you give up because of this long intro, let’s start.

But first, what exactly is Anki?

A free, popular and powerful flashcard program which sets automatic timed intervals for studying. After reviewing a flash card, you briefly rank yourself (1-4) on how well you remembered the card. Depending on the number you rank yourself, you are automatically setting the next time you will have to review that card. This happens continuously, so when the card comes up for review again, you rank it again, causing the card to be pushed back even further (or not so far if you forgot it).

The idea is to create a synergy with your memory so that you are shown flash cards at the exact time you need to review them. Trust me, this is where the magic lies.

1. Download from the Anki site

Go to the Anki site. On the top and also halfway down the page:

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2. Click on the Anki program icon to start it up

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If you have a downloaded deck already, click on the “Import File” button and choose the location of where it is. If not, click “Get Shared,” scroll through the deck you are interested in, click download, and than import it the same way.

*Note: I’ll be using the Jalup Beginner deck as the example for this guide

3. Adjusting Important Options

There are three options which I think need to be changed immediately to adjust to how you want to study.

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Adjusting New Cards

New cards/day: if you have a new deck of 1000 cards, the maximum number of new cards you can review per day is this setting. After you review a new card for the first time, it will go into “review” mode, which means that you will start building up more and more reviews due every day. You want to create a nice balance of new cards vs reviews. You probably want to set this higher in the beginning (when you don’t have many reviews due every day), and lower as time goes on.

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Adjusting Reviews

Maximum reviews/day: this is the amount of reviews you do in a day before the program will tell you “Congratulations, you’re done for the day.” This is an artificial time stop, as the time intervals you are creating still exist, they are just being ignored. This feature was meant to prevent burnout to the user when they see a large amount of cards that are due. Set it much higher if you want better interval accuracy efficiency and lower if the due number is becoming a discouraging mental block.

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Removing Leeches

The Leech function is designed to automatically suspend cards that you forget repeatedly, no matter how many times you are reviewing them. The idea is that the card is a leech on your memory, and it needs to be suspended (as it isn’t worth the time you are putting into it) or changed in a way to make it easier to remember.

I don’t like this function for decks that require each card to build off each other. Change Leech Action to Tag Only, and instead of automatically suspending the card, it will just tag it as a leech. So you’ll know that it has caused problems, but it won’t be removed from your reviewing. Then later, you can look at all cards tagged leeches and maybe give them some extra practice or figure out a new way or mnemonic to remember them.

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4. Open your deck

Click on the deck name

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Click Study Now

5. Start reviewing!

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This guide covers how to review more in depth, but simply

a. Read the card out loud and try to understand the sentence (obviously if this is a new card, you won’t be able to do either)
b. Click space bar or “Show Answer”

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c. Listen to the audio of the sentence (if the deck has audio). Didn’t hear it or want to hear it again? Press the “R” key or click on the “More” button and hit “Replay Audio”
d. Read the sentence repeated with kanji readings above the kanji (this card does not have kanji so there are no kanji readings above the card)
e. Read the English definition
f. Read the notes on the card (if there are any)
g. Rank yourself on how will you did, clicking on one of the three buttons (when the card comes around again for review, the ranking number choice increases to four, allowing you to set the interval even further back). The time interval above each ranking let’s you know when the card will appear again for review depending on what you click on.

Automatically goes to the next card after clicking the ranking button

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This is the next card after the show answer button has already been clicked.

Note how the reading for the kanji is above the kanji. Also note how the definition is for the new word 鈴木. There is no definition given for the word you just reviewed こんにちは. This is the Jalup method of making the experience more like a puzzle and requiring you to put the knowledge you have to immediate application.

6. Searching your deck

You will often need to look at the cards in your deck. Click on the Browse button. This will open up the Browser and focus on the current card you are looking at. Here you can make adjustments to a card, add a note, etc.

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The search feature is incredibly useful, especially with this type of deck where only the new word information is given. Forgot what the word こんにちは means? Do a search, and it’ll bring up every card that uses that word. You don’t even have to type in the full word, just the beginning (very useful for when looking up words that are in conjugated form, as you would only look up the beginning part of that word).

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I like to organize the cards in the deck by the date created. This makes it very easy to scroll through the cards in their original building block order. To do this, right click while hovering over the deck field and click “Created”

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This adds a “Created” field. Click on “Created” and an up arrow should appear). Note that under “Due” you see a date. This is the first card that you did, and the date it will be due again. New cards you haven’t done yet will just have a number.

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And you are good to go!

Of course there are a lot more features. Like adding your own cards. Using tags. Installing plugins. Dealing with multiple decks. Combining and splitting decks. Recording audio. Adding in functions and codes. Looking and analyzing stats and graphs. But you are just starting. Keep it simple. Have fun. Don’t stress.

Now go Anki your way to success!

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


Super Simple Guide To Using Anki Immediately — 19 Comments

  1. ehh…. These are the basics of the basics of the basics, of the basics. Good info nonetheless. Thanks AdShap.

    • Agreed. Anki is definitely a deep program. But even at its very basics it still holds great power.

  2. Awesome stuff. I think after all the time we’ve spent with Anki it’s easy to forget just how daunting and confusing the program can be. I remember first downloading it years before I found this website. I poked around with it for a little bit, downloaded some decks, got very confused and frustrated and ultimately ended up deleting it until JALUP convinced me to give it another shot.

    I’ve grown to love it, but it can certainly be unfriendly to new users. So, you know, cheers.

    • As Anki has grown in functionality, so has it’s complexity. It used to be a bit simpler. Unfortunately it is not the type of program where you install, press start, and know what to do.

      The most important thing that people need to know about navigating Anki is that it just takes a little time to get used to.

  3. Great article! After a few months using Anki just for a downloaded RTK deck, now I’m starting using it more widely.

    Since I’m in the very first days of creating my own sentences + vocab deck, a lot of questions are arising… Like inserting audio, choosing the right type of card and which fields should be in it, avoiding the reverse cards that don’t really add anything since they already show the answers.. There sure is a lot more on Anki than we can think of when we start using it.

    I wonder if JALUP plans on publishing more intermediate tips for using Anki. I’m sure a lot of people would be thankful and really benefit from that.

    PS: sorry if my english is not very good. I probably made some poor choices of words..

  4. Is there a way to see what the new cards for today will be?

    i.e. I have my RTK deck set to do 30 new cards each day. Is there a way to preview exactly which 30 will be introduced? Is it solely numerical order?

    • I don’t know if this also works if you have reordered a deck, but it will definitely apply to standard decks like the Jalup decks.

      If you view your deck on a desktop PC in Browser mode, the cards are shown in the order that they will also be added as new cards. So if you have set it to 30 new cards per day, the first 30 cards that have not already been shown will be added in the next cycle.

      The “Due” field can tell you which cards have already been added. Cards that display a due date have already been shown and are up for review next time on that date. Future cards will show a sequence number in the Due field instead. In other words the first 30 cards after the cards with due dates are the ones that will be displayed next.

      • Yup. I got it all figured out during my study session at lunch today. It worked exactly as I expected.

        I have the 6th edition of RTK, so before using Anki, I made pencil marks around each of the kanji I needed to study today, and then I studied them, and then I used Anki to help reinforce the study.

        Worked pretty well. I’m not sure if I can keep up with 30 new Kanji a day – may need to crank it down a bit. Not sure…

        Definitely going to work well for me, though!

        • You should have no trouble to start with, but reviews will start to pile up. Keep an eye on it and react early if you want to reduce the numbers, because it can take a while for reviews to die out after you reduce your intake.

          I used 30 for my own RTK, which is actually pretty fast and it worked out okay, but I’ll have to be honest and say that it was very tough at times. Don’t be tempted to let reviews spill into the next day as that will just make things worse.

          • So far, 3 days in (90 kanji), I’m still doing ok. I expect if there’s going to be a problem it’ll be in a few more days.

            As long as I remember the story for each character, I do pretty well.

            • You probably won’t see any issues anytime soon, but just keep it in mind, because it creeps up on you slowly.

            • Good luck! I used 30/day when I did RTK as well. Like was mentioned already, it does creep up on you – but as long as you don’t skip reviews, you’ll be fine. I think my peak number of reviews was 400-450 a day. It took a while, but it was doable.

              Something I did a couple of times was if reviews became too intimidating, spend a day or two doing only reviews and no new cards, then bump the number of new cards from 30 to 35 for a week to compensate. I found I liked it better if it was broken up into “waves” of reviews like that.

    • Yes, but the review count slowly decreases over time, so nowadays it takes less than 5 minutes. Maybe 10 if I decide to add a new kanji that’s not in the deck.

    • I completed all of RTK1, but I now have mine on sort of standby after I started doing the Jalup decks seriously. I go through the reviews daily, but I don’t fail them, so effectively I don’t keep them memorized. This might have been a mistake, but at my current stage of learning I am not a big fan of returning to English keywords, so I have a bit of an ambivalent relationship with it. Even if I never return to it, the effort was worth it for the natural relationship it gave me to the kanji. I expect to do some kanji studies again at some point, but I have not decided what form it will take.

      • I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing. I only fail a kanji if I know a word that uses it. Otherwise I use Hard to push it off a bit ’til it becomes relevant.

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