Why are Smart Flashcards So Important?

Spaced Repetition Software (SRS) helps you remember vast amounts of information for a long time (if not for life) through the process of focusing only on a small subset of the data daily. As a shorthand, think of SRS as a system of smart flashcards. Here are some key advantages to using SRS:

The Frequency Game

Any learner studying any subject needs to see new information more frequently and old information less often. Thus, reviewing becomes a game of frequently exposing yourself to recently acquired knowledge followed by the gradual decrease in frequency as you have mastered the material.

Smart Flashcards Address The Brain Filter

By increasing space of time between repetitions, you can keep recalling old material even though you are still in the process of learning new facts. Many call this brain filtering phenomenon the “Leaking Bucket” problem, which refers to when language learners only retain what they have learned recently.

SRS Prevents Binge Learning

Smart Flashcards: SRS Prevents Binge Learning

If you repeat a character over and over 100 times, you’ll still probably forget it soon, because you don’t need to know it 100 times now, you need to know it once at spaced intervals.

When do you need to know the word “Tomato”? That time three days from now, two weeks from now, six months from now, or 5 years from now when you are at the vegetable shop, not 100 times while staring at a computer screen or piece of paper. SRS hacks this problem for you.

Smart Flashcards Promise A Retention Rate Of 90-95%

Don’t shoot for perfection, no one is perfect, and by not worrying about it you end up learning more.

Having 90-95% accuracy for 4000 characters is considerably better than 100% of 1000. Not to mention, the 5-10% “incorrect” answers do not imply that these cards are unlearnable, simply that your method of remembering them has room for further creativity

Everyday Use of Smart Flashcards is Essential

“Forget about forgetting” is what they say at www.supermemo.com, and they are absolutely right if you review every day. How much time you choose to spend reviewing is up to you. Doing it every day is more important than doing a lot! Even if you only add five new cards per day, that is better than adding 100 new cards per day and not finishing.

Feel free to challenge yourself, but also be aware that studying requires relaxation and focus. If the amount to review is too high, this can cause you to feel overwhelmed at the amount of work you have to do in that day, thus knocking you out of “Flow State” and building anxiety.

Flow State Chart

A Note On Flow State: Flow state exists between Anxiety and Boredom. If something is too easy (for example, only adding five cards a day), then you may wish to skip your Anki reviews because it doesn’t get you excited. If you’ve set an unreachable goal (for example, adding 100 cards per day), then you will give up on Anki because the prospect of doing so many reviews is overwhelming.

Approximation Of Daily Reviews & New Cards

Approximation Of Daily Reviews & New Cards

Find your “flow state” sweet spot. SRS is one of many options in your arsenal of study methods. It is compelling, but there is no need to feel that More = Better. The best amount of time to spend on SRS is the amount that has you in “Flow State” most often.

How To Score Yourself When Using Anki

In The Mandarin Blueprint Method (pat. pending), we use an SRS called “Anki.” Anki is made up of 4 possible “Scores” on a review card, or 3 possible scores on a new smart flashcard. It is up to you decide what “score” you give yourself.

Three Options for smart flashcards:

New Cards show up two times on day one. The first time looks like this (all screenshots based on Mobile Anki):

Anki Chart 1

The second time looks like this:

Anki Chart 2

Review cards are shown only once unless you click “wrong.” The options look like this:

Anki Chart 3

Note that the earliest “Spaced” interval is set to appear in 10 minutes. This is the first time you go to recall something you have learned. Even this interval is not “immediate.” Studying two times ten minutes apart is better than five times intensely in 30 seconds. Your brain will move on to other cards during this 10-minute interval, thus causing your mind to recall the information instead of merely repeating.

New Smart Flashcards

1st Time

Smart Flashcards New cards Chart 1

RED 1 MINUTE: You got it wrong. Simple as that.

GREEN 10 MINUTES: You got it right, but it is still a new concept.

BLUE 4 DAYS: You already knew the concept of this card, and it was very easy for you. If this is the case, consider whether or not you need this card for your study. If you enjoy the concept and would like to recall it more often, keep it, otherwise delete it.

2nd Time

New Cards chart 2

RED 1 MINUTE: You got it wrong.

GREEN 1 DAY: You got it right, but you still want to see it again tomorrow

BLUE 4 DAYS: There is no scenario in which it is reasonable to do this because if the concept were that easy, you would have selected “BLUE” 10 minutes earlier when you first saw the smart flashcard.

Review Cards

Review Smart Flashcards Chart

RED (WRONG – 10 MINUTES): You forgot this card, or go any significant part of the flashcard completely wrong. For example, you remembered the meaning of a word, but your pronunciation was wrong still hit the RED button.

LEFT BLUE (HARD): Use this button when you struggled to figure out the answer to a flashcard but got it correct in the end. Also, it is reasonable to use this button if you got the meaning and pronunciation right, but got the wrong tone.

GREEN (CORRECT): You answered correctly with no mistakes, but there was some level of hesitation. Maybe you had to think about it for an extra second or two, or perhaps you simple judge yourself as needing to see this card sooner rather than later despite your correct answer.

RIGHT BLUE (EASY): This card was a breeze. You got it right away without hesitation.