Virtual flash cards

Hands On

After you select a deck to study, Anki displays three categories, each containing several cards. New denotes the first level in which all newly entered cards are located. In Learning, Anki groups all the cards that are in an ongoing initial learning process. The cards that you have already learned but now want to review for long-term memory appear in the To Review group. Anki takes into account all the different types of cards and prompts for responses in a mixed order. Anki's algorithm assumes a daily learning speed of 100 cards, including review.

If you plan to take a break in studying, it is recommended to pause the decks. To do this, click the Browse link in the main window and select the relevant card deck in the vertical bar on the left in the new window (Figure 4). On the right, you will see a list of all the cards in this deck. You can now select the desired cards and then right click on the selected deck. From the context menu, select the option Toggle Suspend or press Ctrl+J.

Figure 4: You pause your exercises via Browse.

After closing the window, you will no longer find any cards designated for study in the selected deck in the deck overview. To unpause, repeat the same steps as for pausing. Afterwards, the number of cards to be learned appears again in the deck overview.

Spaced Repetition

Anki's learning method uses spaced repetition, where memorization after several repetitions spread over a period of time anchors a topic in long-term memory (see the "The Leitner System" box). To implement this concept, the Anki developers introduced a rating system consisting of four levels that is applied individually for each card.

The Leitner System

The Leitner learning system, developed in 1973 by Sebastian Leitner, implements a form of spaced repetition using index cards separated into a series of boxes. The card index boxes let users review the cards at regular intervals, with the review intervals increasing from box to box. You decide which level Anki assigns to each card by pressing the Again, Good, and Easy buttons at the bottom of each flash card.

In daily learning, the system ensures that a different number of cards is retrieved from each box. While new cards are initially located in the first box, cards that have already been queried and successfully answered move to the back of the next box. Cards that are not answered or answered incorrectly find their way back into the first box. This ensures that terms that are difficult to learn are initially queried more frequently, while cards that have already been answered correctly over a longer period of time (and therefore successfully learned by the user) are queried less frequently.

For lasting learning success, you need to use the Leitner system at regular intervals, querying a maximum of 100 terms a day that you want to learn permanently.

On the first level, click Again if you are unable to answer the question (or had great difficulty doing so); Anki will call this card again within the next 10 minutes. If you are able to answer the question, click the Good button. If this is the first time Good has been selected for a flash card, Anki transfers the card to the second level, which causes the card to be called up again after three days. If you click Good again for the same card on subsequent review, Anki moves the card to the third level and calls it again after five days. If you select the fourth level, Easy, Anki extends the recall interval to six days.

As learning outcomes improve, the call intervals also lengthen, ensuring a lasting learning effect through regular spaced repetition.


To help you keep track of not only your study load, but also your learning and memory performance, Anki offers a statistics feature that uses bar and pie charts to visualize your progress.

To generate the statistics report, click on Stats in the top buttonbar in the main window; you then see all the information in a separate window (Figure 5). In this window, you can narrow the statistics to a specific deck or a deck collection as well as a time period (either the last 12 months or the entire learning history).

Figure 5: Comprehensive statistics in Anki document the user's learning success.

In addition to these statistics, Anki displays the most relevant data over several different time intervals in a colorful, grid-style calendar overview. To save the report permanently, use the Save PDF button at the bottom. After requesting the storage path and file name, Anki creates a corresponding PDF file that contains all the details, making it quite extensive.

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