Why aren’t you using Anki – The greatest study tool EVER!

I’ve been using Anki for a while now, and I have to say that it’s a been game changer.  In this blog post, I am going to outline how I use Anki, as well as how can you use Anki to learn anything you want.

What is Anki?

Anki is an open source spaced repetition study tool. It is available on Android, iOS, web, and desktop operating systems.

It is used all over the world by a lot of people trying to learn a wide range of topics. The most popular study subject, at least as I see it, is language learning. I myself am using it to learn German, and it’s been working quite well for me.

This is a spaced repetition tool, which means, that you create cards, the app asks you questions, and then based on how you ranked your knowledge of the card (bad, hard, good, easy), it will create a schedule.

For example, when when you answered the question incorrectly, you will be asked the question again in ten minutes, and then again in ten minutes. If you then get it right both times, it will then ask you the question again tomorrow.  And then, if you answer the question right again, you rank your knowledge of of the question (hard, good, easy) and based on which you choose, the card might show up in your deck again in five days, two weeks, or 7 months.

You can, of course, adjust the settings on that and customize it to your own preferences.

These are my favorite things about Anki.

It’s free… sort of

Anki is a project started by Damien Elmes. Today it’s an open source project for PC and Android, but he developed the original version for iOS, and it costs about $25, whereas the Android and the desktop versions are open source and free.

The reasoning behind this is that basically he wanted to make a little bit of money for the thousands of hours of work he has put into the development of this ecosystem. He made the backend and the desktop versions open source so that if anything ever happens to him, the app can continue to get updates, and the people can decide to do with it.

The plugins

The plugins are one of my favorite features of Anki.

Basically, the plugins were added, so that when someone comes up with a feature that they would like to be added to the Anki app, the do not have to compile their own version of Anki, but they can just write a Python script which will work with the app. You don’t have to recompile the app – it’s Python.

Right now, I use a couple of plugins which help me a lot. I do not use these plugins on a day to day basis, but they are very useful when I actually need them. For example, I use a plugin which can reschedule cards within a certain time window, or just schedule them as new cards. I also use a plugin which can render cards from the browser window, and that’s very helpful when dealing with photos or latex equations. Speaking of latex,

Latex

I use latex in Anki on a daily base. I am currently studying for the croatian version of the A levels in Brittan or the german das Abitur, and it’s called Državna matura.

I will be taking tests in Croatian, English, Math and Physics. Currently, I have Anki decks for Croatian and for Physics, and I plan on creating a Math deck later on.

Most of the cards in my Physics deck utilize latex. And one of my cards might look like this:


This photo is an example as how one of my cards using latex would look, as well as showing a plugin. This is the preview plugin which allows me to render a note from the browser.

Of course, you do have to have a latex engine on your machine in order to be able to create renders of these equations. 

Imagine having to write these types of equations, an let’s face it, this is a very simple equation, and the more complicated ones in pure text. It would take you forever to figure out what the equations is supposed to say.

Reversible cards

This feature is absolutely amazing. You can create cards which go both ways. I use this feature for all of my German cards. For example, I can create a card with the question “desk“, and the answer will be “der Tisch.”

But then, I will find in my deck a question “der Tisch,” and I have to answer “desk.”

This is an amazing feature, because before, when I would study vocabulary for school, and especially if I had to do it in a short time window, I would learn all the words from Croatian to German, or Latin, but when the time came to translate a text, then my mind would go blank. 

This is why it is very important to learn both ways. You have to be able to explain Newtons third law, but you also have to be able to recognize it in  a problem.

Conclusion

Anki is the best study tool I have ever used. An honorable mention goes to a couple of pomoduro timers, but Anki is far the best.

Thanks to Anki, now I have to spend about 30 minutes a day studying German and preparing for the Croatian state exam, whereas without it, I would probably spend hours going through dictionarys and though text books. And when I say 30 minutes a day, I don’t mean per topis, I mean all together.

So please, use Anki. Trust me on this one.