Optimize your Anki – You’re Overtesting Yourself on too few cards. (New Simplified Method 8.14.18)

Watch the video for the new quick setup and instructions: かっこいい動画(笑)
Addon pack: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uxCekcoYY99exyHPCMnSYT5fA7UGfLlO/view?usp=sharing
Make sure to use the Reset Ease tool (Tools> Reset Ease) to fix all your old Anki cards!

Anki hasn’t been treating you right. You want to make real gains, but you can’t imagine doing more than 20 or 30 new cards/day, can you? After all, you keep hitting “Hard” on yesterday’s vocab, and it’s just not sticking. Anki is supposed to be a tool you use to improve your learning, not something you hate and struggle to use.

Here’s the gist of this radical shift to Anki that will make learning much less frustrating:

Ok, so I realized that there’s actually a ton to explain, and I could probably make a 20 minute video just about why this is so beneficial, so I’m working to trim it down a bit.

How Anki overtests you
Currently, whenever you fail a card, Anki will make a card appear more often than before, by tweaking the interval rate. It’s something like a difficulty multiplier that gets permanently attached to your card. Also, hitting the Hard button makes the card appear more often in the long run.

The Maths
If you always hit “Good” in Anki, your intervals will increase at a 2.5x like this:
1 day -> 2 days -> 6 days -> 15 days-> 39 days -> 97 days.  (The numbers get rounded down to the nearest whole number)
If you hit the Hard button, the rate decreases to a 2.25x  it’ll look more like this:
1 day -> 2 days -> (Hard) 4 days-> 9 days-> 20 days -> 45 days.

Why we can benefit from bigger interval increases:
Japanese is cumulative, so your sentence cards will contain words and parts of words that other sentences have. This means that the more cards you’re doing, the easier each card becomes.
Japanese will get easier to retain as you go, because the learning process is cumulative.

High intervals won’t work as well for disconnected information, like random Jeopardy facts.

Another Tweak: No more resetting
Additionally, when you fail a card, you don’t have to completely reset it. Let’s look at the earlier example of 1 day -> 2 days -> 6 days -> 15 days-> 39 days. If you fail a card after 15 days, instead of resetting back to 1, you get the option of hitting 15 days again, and then after 15 days, getting to go up to 39 days.

ANOTHER Tweak: No finishing off cards early
This behavior is a bit complicated to explain, but here it goes.
If you study a new card in Anki and hit “20 minutes” on it, and then finish up all your reps, Anki will show you that new card again and let you hit “1 day” on it even if it hasn’t hit 20 minutes. With this setting tweak, you can have Anki enforce these times, which generally gets you to learn your cards better.

So how do I fix this and make better gains?!

Part 1: Install these Anki Addons for Anki on PC

Addons Pack: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uxCekcoYY99exyHPCMnSYT5fA7UGfLlO/view?usp=sharing

Individual addons & explanations:
1. Low Key Anki: Pass/Fail LINK
-this changes Anki’s behavior so that we simply answer Yes or No for our cards. The reality of a card feeling “hard” or “easy” and us judging the difficulty ourselves is actually really arbitrary. The number of revisions, or times we see a card, is what improves this, but we shouldn’t be drastically reducing the interval increase by hitting Hard all the time. Also, we can increase the standard interval increasing.

2. Low Stakes Anki: No Penalties or Boosting – Link
-this basically fixes the aspect of the Hard button making cards appear early, as well as removing the easy bonus from hitting the Easy button.

3. put ALL due -learning- cards first × – Link
-this is a super useful addon. It basically improves how Anki handles showing new cards, so that you’re able to simultaneously review and see new cards as you rep.  It fixes a common gripe people have with how Anki prioritizes cards.

4. resetEZ – reset the ease on all your Anki cards – Link
Usage: Just hit Tools>Reset EaseUse this addon ASAP because it will fix the intervals on your old/recent cards, and start giving you less reps! Your new cards will be fine, but this can fix your old cards a bit so that they start increasing more quickly again.

Install all the addons or use the pack.

Part 2: Anki settings
In Anki, go to Tools>Preferences>Basic, then set the Learn ahead limit to 2mins
-With the default Anki behavior, we can see a card, hit [10 minutes] on it, and then immediately hit [2 days] if there are no other cards we’re studying at the time.

Creating your new Options groups:
Click on a deck and hit the cog at the right of it. and then hit Options.
We’ll make a new Options Group, so hit the cog in the new Window, then hit Add. We’ll call it 20 250%

Now, fill out the settings as follows:
New Cards: (pic)
-Steps(in minutes): 1 10
-Graduating interval: 2 days
-Easy interval: 2 days
-Starting ease: 250%
Reviews: (pic)
-Maximum reviews/day 9999
-Easy bonus: 100%
-Interval modifier: 100%
Lapses: (pic)
-Steps (in minutes): 1 20
-New interval: 100% (this keeps it from resetting our card)
-Minimum interval: 2 days
-Leech threshold: 5-7 lapses. (I use 5, and then hopefully figure out why I keep failing that card.)
-Leech action: Tag only

(Advanced) Recommendations for Interval Modification:
You can edit the original Interval of 100%

This will change the default multiplier of 2.5x and make it whatever % you choose times that 2.5x. So, if you choose 110%, it’ll be 1.1 * 2.5 or a 2.75x multiplier (or 275%).
For doing RTK, I recommend a 90% interval modifier, because kanji are easier to slip out of your memory.
For sentence cards, I just use 100%, but you could do 110% or 120%. I used to use 120% when I was able to get in more immersion before working full-time.

Reviewing on AnkiDroid, Anki for iOS with these hax pro settings:
So, the settings we set in the Anki and the add-ons *mostly* accomplish the same thing.  You’ll have to avoid hitting the Hard button.
Also, periodically, you’ll want to run the Reset Ease addon from Anki on your desktop, in order to fix the ease becoming messed up from lapsed cards.
The most important thing is that you don’t hit the hard button and set the options group for each deck you’re studying.

Mindset, General Overview with these new settings:

Every time you see a card, think of it as a revision, an improvement, sharpening the saw.
You don’t need to completely reset a sentence card, because you’re going to get a bit better at recalling it.
If a sentence is so hard that you keep failing it constantly, delete it.
If a sentence has words so uncommon that you never improve at it, delete it.

My main source for this information is ja-dark and the research he has done. Ja-dark’s criterien post on the topic is here: https://darkjapanese.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/criterien-encrit-v3-0/

AJATT – http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/all-japanese-all-the-time-ajatt-how-to-learn-japanese-on-your-own-having-fun-and-to-fluency/
MattVsJapan  (helped revise the method to make it more simple than ja-dark’s previous method) https://www.youtube.com/user/MATTvsJapan

Stay tuned for more~


26 thoughts on “Optimize your Anki – You’re Overtesting Yourself on too few cards. (New Simplified Method 8.14.18)

  1. Thanks so much! I’ve burned out of Anki who knows how many times because of the number of reviews that pops up. I modded my interval settings as suggested and I can tell you reviewing has turned into a breeze. While I might have a lower retention rate, I really don’t care as I love reviewing fewer cards and having those cards I *do* know move fast into the future. It’s make Anki enjoyable, easy to use, and more helpful at retaining what I want to retain.

    I’m not afraid to hit “Again” on cards anymore because I miss a reading (which was a problem before). Now I am open to it and encourage myself to do it. I know it or I don’t, it’s as easy as that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello and thanks for the article ! Unfortunately, it seems the Low Stakes Anki: No Penalties or Boosting is not available anymore, do you still have it ?



  3. You mention about being able to have the “18 days” (or whatever) option after hitting Try again, but what’s the setting to have that? Right now I have 10 minutes and 1 day, regardless of where I was able to get before hitting Try again.


    1. ResetEZ works for me on 2.1, though the other plugins mentioned here do not. I made a folder in the addons folder (the name does not matter) and placed the .py in there, and renamed it to __init__.py; after restarting Anki the button was there and worked.


  4. You say to put the “New interval” to 100% which will keep cards from resetting even if you fail them, but isn’t this going completely against the whole concept of SRS and Anki ? I really don’t understand how it’s more productive to have a card you failed keep its initial interval…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems counterintuitive, but over time you will wind up learning the word most of the time, because if you never pass the card the first time you see it that day, the interval will never increase. ja-dark cited studies about how the interval doesn’t need to be reset to 0%, and can actually not be reset at all, and it’ll work. This is because relearning information isn’t as difficult as learning it originally. Different %s work better for different card types and stages of learning Japanese (beginner, intermediate, etc.), though, so you can try 50% or 80%. I usually do 50% for RTK and 80% for sentence cards.


  5. By using the ResetEZ addon (compat with 2.1) and configuring the deck options as outlined here, provided you avoid actually pressing hard or easy, am I correct that the other addons are not required to address the overtesting concern and therefore can still be of use to 2.1 users?


  6. Hey, I actually have load balancer plug in installed (at default settings, I have no clue how it works but it seems to help “spread out” reviews ) so those graduating interval options seem to be greyed out, how should I go on about changing them according to your recommended settings?

    Thanks in advance!


  7. I don’t use the load balancer plugin, which from what you said appears to override the interval options. Not really sure what to say, but maybe try editing the addon.


  8. Does the Low Stakes Anki remove only the Easy/Hard intervals? Because there is something written about modyfing lapses as well, but the code seems edited. Can’t verify it because I don’t know python. Please help.


  9. Hey,
    1st: a big THANK you and your references (esp MattvsJapan) for sharing all this hard-earned information for the future anki-generation like myself.
    2nd: one thing is unclear to me after reading this text: if I understood correctly, the ease doesn’t play any role at all after setting up anki the way it’s described. BUT: why do you say it’s necessairy to reset the ease after lapses then?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s