SRS: Spaced Repetition Studying and Anki  

For the past 13 days I’ve been doing spaced repetition studying as part of my learning regimen on Drawkcab.

I’ve been exposed to SRS before - I used SuperMemo for a brief period of time back at Harvard, but was unable to stick with it and found the amount of time necessary for inputting flash cards to be too great of a barrier to entry for me. The learning curve for simply using the software was quite steep as well.

While I will extoll the magnificence that is SRS, I won’t go into much detail about the reasoning behind the methodology. For that, check out SuperMemo and Derek Sivers’ post

Some things have changed since the last time I’ve crossed paths with SRS, and some things haven’t. It still takes inordinately long to input flashcards (spent over 5 hours today editing Tynan’s Japanese deck), but the process has been made inexpressably more streamlined and simple by Anki’s note feature, whereby one note can be manipulated into several flashcards by way of creating a template for each note in one specific note type. Incredible.

The implementation of LaTeX in Anki has made writing math flashcards unbelievably pleasurable. Spent several hours building a derivatives and antiderivatives deck as well.

The greatest difference, however, is my use of Drawkcab to enforce daily repetitions of Anki. There is no way in hell I could imagine otherwise being so regular with my Anki learning each day if it weren’t for Drawkcab forcing me to hold myself accountable. And this isn’t a small feat - I went through 428 cards today in 86 minutes. Almost an hour and a half just reviewing material on Anki.

I now have 6 decks, and every single one of them still has unseen cards with the sole exception of General Math and Calculus, and that’s merely because I haven’t added the rest of the cards to those decks yet. They’ll be some of the largest by the time I’m done. Overall, I have 859 cards in my collection created from a total of 499 unique notes. 51% of the cards have been seen; 49% have not. I’ve got a long way to go.

And yet already, in 13 days I’ve gone through an average of 172.8 reviews per day with a total of 2246 flash card reviews. It’s taken me a total of 333 minutes to review these cards, and my average time to answer a card is 8.9 seconds. I have 150 cards due tomorrow - given my general correct answer rate of around 60-65% and repeat rates that will likely be at least 400+ total repetitions again, if not many more.

But it’s well worth it. I’m learning across all domains - I’m 3 days away from having been exposed to every OS X terminal command (and I’ve learned some fantastic ones, like opensnoop, say, clear, that I hadn’t been privy to prior), and I’m about halfway through having seen every element in the periodic table, and a bit longer to knowing all of them easily. I’m regaining my knowledge of derivatives and antiderivatives, and most shockingly of all it seems like I may, for the first time in my life, have a relatively easily time picking up basic foreign language phrases.

Anki shines in several areas. It’s remarkably elegant and efficient to use (but don’t take this as intuitive - I’ve had several issues where I couldn’t figure out how to do something…but once you figure it all out, it’s golden). Notes become several cards at once, and you can save on writing the same phrasing over and over by adding it to the card template instead of writing it in the note field. You can add audio files. You can export and share decks. Everything works. I haven’t encountered a semblance of a bug yet. LaTeX integration is seamless and simple. There’s very little more I can think of that it could do better.

In any case, I figured I’d share some of the better decks and more widely applicable decks I’ve made (Derivatives and Antiderivatives, Terminal Commands), revised (Tynan’s Ghetto Japanese Class), and come across (Periodic Table of the Elements).

Derivatives and Antiderivatives (Requires LaTeX to be installed)

Tynan’s Ghetto Japanese Class With Complete Audio (Goes over 62 practical basic phrases to get you up on your feet in Japan. Three cards per phrase: English –> Japanese, Japanese –> English, Audio –> Meaning)

OS X Terminal Commands

Periodic Table of the Elements


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