What Should Your Anki Accuracy Rate Be?

Anki is all about remembering. We’d like to be able to say we remember 100% or close to it. After all, that’s what you should be getting, right? Trying to achieve a higher accuracy range requires more time. You learn cards slower, you review them slower, and you usually spend time on additional memory boosters (like repeating out loud, hand writing, and mnemonics). Is it all worth it though?

What Should Your Anki Accuracy Rate Be

Is it better use of your time to review 50 cards at 90% or 100 cards at 70%?

Percent means nothing

A lot of people, including my past self, get caught up in aiming for a high percent. If your percent is low, it feels like you are doing something wrong and aren’t truly learning the material. I’m not sure what Anki’s recommendation is now, but it was originally at 85%-90%.

When I saw that, and then looked at my 70% accuracy, I thought that I was obviously doing something that I shouldn’t be. I must be going through cards too fast. Better slow down. Except it bored me to death to go slowly. Anki always felt most natural as a speedy tool, and I hated patiently reading through every card in painstaking detail. So I ignored my low percentage, which continued for years.

The result?

Everything worked out fine. Really. Fine.

Some reasoning?

What Should Your Anki Accuracy Rate Be 2

1. Not worrying about percentage allows you to spend less time on numbers and more time on the language. Which do you think is more important?

2. Moving forward is more important than moving forward perfectly.

3. Avoid the perfection trap.

4. Anki is designed to be memory efficient. Even with lower percentages, it is still showing you the cards when you need to know them.

5. Immersion picks up any slack. Your goal anyway is to have immersion overpower your Anki time. Immersion will also eventually increase your percentage.

6. Anki can drag you down if you let it. Most people that get frustrated with it get caught spending too much time with their cards.

7. Reviews go quicker. Making you more likely to use Anki, and less likely to dread it.

Obsessed with accuracy?

Stop, and start going through your Anki reviews faster and guilt free. Things will work out. You will be happier. You will worry less about progress and whether your studying is proper. Numbers don’t define you.

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


What Should Your Anki Accuracy Rate Be? — 7 Comments

  1. Brilliant.

    This is a trap that cost me years of studying. There are so many words and grammatical patterns to learn in order to be fluent that breadth is going to trump depth for any learner wanting to reach fluency.

    I would also add that if there is some concept that is imperative to learn it’s more effective to just add extra cards with that word, phrase or grammar point than it is to try and slow down your reps or increase your overall percentage.

    So I guess 70% is the new 85%? (笑)

    • It sounds bad because usually depth is better than width in most endeavors, but I think it doesn’t make sense with language learning, especially because that depth gets filled out along the way.


      And good point of advice about just adding the extra cards.

  2. Just be sure to not do the opposite and be too fast. I sometimes do this and don’t give enough time for my brain to remember the word. Then I either have too low a percentage for all the “wrong” cards or too high a percentage by just seeing the card for a moment and assuming “yeah, I probably know that card so I’ll just say good”.

    • Very true.

      I think that your first review (for a new card) will be the slowest, and then every consecutive review of that card will increase its speed exponentially.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at my accuracy. I think your post may have the opposite of its intended effect for me, because now I’m really curious :P

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