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I was reading a blog post by Thomas at College Info Geek about Anki, which uses intelligent flash cards to help you study for your exams. I had just bought my first Android phone at the time (an HTC Sensation), and I was excited to use it to optimize my studying techniques for my upcoming exams. And this semester, when I had the worst midterm schedule ever, I decided to put his advice to use. How would the decision to make flashcards for your smartphone be beneficial at all to you? Well, I had 4 exams in the span of 3 days (3 of the exams in 1 day, back-to-back), and I used Anki and Ankidroid to study for all three of them. The result? I got an A- or better on all 4 of my exams. Read on to read the rest of the Anki review!

make flash cards for your smartphone

Why is Anki and Ankidroid so relevant for college students?

Because it makes sure you are actively studying. There have been many an exam where I was too lazy and would just read the PowerPoint slide decks for all the lectures about three times, and say I had studied for a test. I know many of my peers do the same — and trust me, it does not yield successful results. Or maybe just average results. But you want to excel at your exams, and actively is the key to excelling at your exams. That is where Anki and Ankidroid comes in! This super nifty app utilizes the spaced repetition method, in which you review a topic at the time you are most likely to forget it, causing a forced recall. Additionally, because you are manually making these “flash cards,” the tactical studying technique further ingrains the topic into your memory.


How does Anki Work?

Instead of cramming a ton of information over a  short period of time, Anki requires that you learn a little bit of information in spaced intervals over a longer period of time. So if you have a deck of 100 cards for your upcoming exam, over a period of 10 days, they will show you the first 10 cards, then switch them out as you remember the answers to each question better and better. You can choose how long and how many cards you want to review in the “Timeboxing” section.  It’s a self-selection sort of method — Anki will ask you how easy the question was, and depending on your answer, they will develop an algorithm that will show that card again either really soon or several days later.

You can use Anki flash cards to cram too!

That is exactly what I did. I had 3 exams on a Monday, and so on Saturday, I made all the cards for my 3 classes, and then on Sunday, I would cram half the cards from each class at different periods of the day. You just have to select the button that allows you to participate in a cram session instead of a short review session.

 What did I love about Anki?

There were so many things I found useful. You could format your text, so you could bold/italicize important phrases. Additionally, because I am such a perfectionist, it is significantly quicker to make all my flash cards by typing on the computer rather than handwriting on flash cards. You can paste images of useful diagrams into your flashcards.

It enables you to type in any language you need, so it’s excellent for those who are taking language courses.  And it’s available via so many mobile and desktop devices! Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, Android, and even your Nintendo DS. While it isn’t available for Blackberries or Windows Mobile Phones, you can access your flash cards through AnkiWeb.

Oh, and did I mention it has an extensive database of other user-generated flash cards? You might not even have to make your own! Just search their database after you make an account!

What did I dislike about Anki?

It did annoy me a lot that I couldn’t view the images I put into the flashcards on my phone. You could only see the images on your laptop app — maybe Ankiweb itself (I didn’t check). Additionally, while you can choose to do a cram session, it does take a lot of effort to change the settings so that Anki knows to go into cram mode instead of the 15 minute limit it is automatically set to. Otherwise, no qualms! This flash card method is more limited to memorizing formulas, definitions, etc., which might not be useful for all classes, like a math class where you have to practice the formula (this isn’t Anki’s fault though).

What were the results of studying with Anki?

I was able to recall the answers very easily during each of the exams and even finished every single one of my exams in half the time of my peers. Additionally, I scored within the top 10% of all my classes, and at NYU Stern, that means you get an A because of the Stern Curve. And like I said, I got an A- or better on all of my exams.

Overall, I highly recommend using Anki to study for your next exam. It’s more efficient, it keeps it limited to your devices you carry everyday so no worries dealing with flash cards, and it’s easy to take any short amounts of time to study for your next exam!

Do you have an opinion about Anki? Leave your Anki Review in the comments below!


Featured Image courtesy of Google Play. Ankidroid flash card courtesy of my own flash card deck.