Mastering Anki for your ATAR

On the surface, Anki seems like a relatively straightforward program. It uses spaced repetition, a technique that has scientifically been proven to foster fast and long-lasting memorisation. Essentially, it works. Really well.

3 years ago   •   5 min read

By Jessica Hinh
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

We wrote an article a while back on three apps that, if used correctly, can undoubtedly help to improve your ATAR. One of those apps was Anki, a free, open-source flashcard program which has taken over the medical student study landscape by storm. Many of our KIS academics team can advocate for how effective Anki is in solidifying knowledge (our very own CEO, Manoj Arachige included!), so we wanted to share this resource with you.

On the surface, Anki seems like a relatively straightforward program. It uses spaced repetition, a technique that has scientifically been proven to foster fast and long-lasting memorisation. Essentially, it works. Really well. However, the Anki interface can definitely take some time to familiarise yourself with, and there are certainly better ways than others to utilise the program.

That’s why we’ve put together this introductory guide on how you can get the most out of Anki for your personal studies, so that you can avoid all the common pitfalls and learning curves that we’ve all experienced in the past!

Getting Started

Downloading Anki

You can download Anki for Windows, Mac, Apple or Android here.

We’d recommend that you only download Anki for your computer, mainly because it’s free (and we want to save you $$), and it’s perfectly sufficient for all your study uses. If you have an Android device, you can also get AnkiDroid Flashcards for free. If you’re deep into the Apple family though, you can purchase the AnkiMobile app for $38.99 on the Apple App Store.

Creating an account

We recommend creating an Anki account, to utilise the free AnkiWeb synchronisation services. It’s kind of like ‘iCloud’, and will mean that you can sync your cards across different devices.

Organising Your Anki

Creating a Deck

The basic way of organising your flashcards is into ‘Decks’. To do this, click ‘Create Deck’ at the bottom of your Anki application home page.

You might consider organising your decks based on subjects. For the purposes of this guide, let’s create a deck called ‘Biology’.

Creating Sub-Decks

You can also organise sub-decks within the decks. This is a little bit less intuitive than creating a deck, but here’s how to do it.

Click ‘Create Deck’, and include the name of the deck you want the sub-deck to fall under, followed by 2 colons, e.g. [Deck]::[Sub-Deck].

As an example, this is how we would create a new ‘Immunity’ topic for the Biology deck that we created above.

This is how your deck and sub-deck should look.

Making Cards

This is the fun part! Making basic cards is easy. All you need to do is click into your Deck, and then click ‘Add’.

You’ll get something that looks like this.

The ‘Front’ and ‘Back’ boxes represent the sides of your flashcard, so you can easily type in your question and answers.

Using Hints

This is a really useful function in Anki, which can help to reinforce important memory tools for your revision. You can select this feature when you click on ‘Type’ at the top of your flashcard making window.

Choose ‘Basic with Hint’ flashcard type.

When doing your Anki flashcards, it’ll look like this.

Useful Add-Ons

There are some really useful Anki add-ons. Here’s an easy and super useful one to get you started!

Cloze Deletion
Cloze essentially allows you to fill in the blanks, which is super useful to be able to memorise specific quotes or phrases. Read more about it here.

Here’s an example of what a Cloze card will look like:

“The ______ Revolution began in the mid-1760s and ended in _______”.

“The American Revolution began in the mid-1760s and ended in 1789”.

Here’s how to do it:

Select the ‘Cloze’ type flashcard. Your entire card will be typed into the ‘Text’ section.

For each blank section, add {{c[number]::[word/phrase]}} around the information that you want to be tested on. If you’d like to be tested on each word individually, increase the number that comes after ‘c’.

This is what your flashcard will look like.

Using Anki

To use your flashcards, simply click on the deck you want to test yourself on, and then click ‘Study Now’.  

You can adjust specific settings if you click ‘Options’ at the bottom when you open up a deck, including how many new cards you want to see per day.

Once you’ve studied a card, be honest about how easy or difficult you found it, because that’ll impact the frequency with which you’re re-introduced to the card. You’ll be able to see this at the bottom of each completed flashcard.

Make sure to do your Anki cards regularly, because that’s the best way for you to actually reinforce the information that you’re hoping to remember. If you want insights into your Anki habits, this can be found under ‘Stats’ in the top bar.

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