You thought you learned a card well. You did. But when it comes up in a review, things start to unravel. You didn’t just forget one thing; you forgot three. Now, on this ordinary review, you are refreshing yourself on 3 parts of a card. This takes time and builds up frustration. All for just one card. But at least when you finish it and push it forward things will be better the next time it shows up…
Until that card does show up, and this time you can’t recall 2 parts. A step in the right direction, but you must now spend the time to review those 2 parts again.
Is this the best way to deal with this common situation?
When you have 100s of cards to review, chasing that 0, it’s natural to feel some pain. In order to soften that pain, card reviews need to be painless on an individual basis. This requires a test of as little information as possible per card.
In principle, this is how it starts. You are only learning one new piece of information per card. This ideal setup quickly changes. When you forget other information on a card besides your target, you have to review/re-learn multiple words, per card. This can make 100 reviews feel like 300. You start to feel the spiral of suffering, as you try to go faster to make up for this. The faster you go, the more you forget.
Set a limit on your cards with multiple unknowns
There is one major solution I’ve found that saved me from this. The process works as follows:
1. Read a sentence in my reviews, discovering three words I can’t remember.
2. Before discouragement starts to set in, I immediately flip the card.
3. Rather than sit there going through all three unknowns, I review only the first one.
4. Once I am refreshed of the first item, I move on, skipping the latter two.
You passed a card that you didn’t fully understand? How dare you?!
One of three scenarios happens from here:
1. I see the parts I forgot somewhere else (immersion and/or other cards), and it naturally restores my memory in them, before I get to that card again.
2. I see them in just that one card again later, and due to good timing or memory freshness, I was able to recall what I couldn’t before.
3. When I get to that card a second time, I can’t recall those two missing parts I didn’t review on the first pass.
Scenario 3 is the most common. Regardless, I continue the path. Upon the return of that card, I review the second part I didn’t remember, moving on (this time skipping only part 3). Then when the card comes around yet again, I focus on the final remaining part 3.
This looks like it would take more time. Re-learning/reviewing all 3 parts at once would seem to be quicker than doing them one at a time.
However, in addition to making for a painful review, trying to refresh yourself on 3 new things in one card is prone to failure. You forgot those 3 parts because they weren’t firmly cemented in your memory yet or were slightly tough words. Attempting to fix all 3 issues at once will most likely lead you to forgetting them again later on your next review.
So why waste the time now all at once, if you’re going to have to relearn them again anyway? Might as well separate them out, making your life easier.
Dealing with multiple fails
This is how I approach it. How do you handle multiple fails on one card?
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