Anki is a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to make learning pretty much anything more effective. Basically, you add a bunch of flashcards about stuff you want to remember / learn into what Anki calls a deck, and then you review these cards regularly.
Here's a visual aid for retention rate over time:
Memory retention rate

How it works

So, how does Anki work? I'll provide a very basic example.
Say you're trying to learn Swedish (spaced repetition is very effective for learning languages), and want to remember the word for future (framtid in Swedish). An Anki flashcard will in this example display the word future. Now it's up to you to try to remember what this word means. After thinking about it, touch the screen (or click the screen, whatever). Anki will now display the correct answer, framtid.
Here's where the magic happens: you now have to tell Anki how difficult this flashcard was for you.
  • Was it very easy?
  • Was it moderately easy?
  • Was it difficult?
  • Did you not remember at all?
Based on what you chose, Anki will schedule this card again at an appropriate time. If you failed the card, you'll see it again before the end of your current review session.


Ideally, a review session should be done every day. When starting out, finishing a review of your whole deck shouldn't be too difficult (depending on size, of course). But you'll find that a complete review session will take longer and longer as you go on, since there'll be more cards to review each time. Don't feel discouraged. Just try to keep the habit going. If you stop, your backlog of unreviewed cards will keep growing.
If possible, you should review cards at least 20 minutes a day.

Notes & Tips

  • When reviewing a card, three numbers will be shown near the bottom of the screen, for example 12 + 34 + 56. These represent new cards, cards in learning, and cards to review
  • Activate Night Mode to make it easier on your eyes
  • Creating decks and cards is much easier on a laptop or desktop computer
  • Reviewing cards is easier on a mobile device because of taps and swipes, meaning it can be done with one hand
  • Reviewing can and should ideally be done whenever procrastinating or otherwise when bored, for example:
    • While listening to certain genres of music (instrumental, classical etc.)
    • While on the commute
    • While taking a break at work
    • Before a movie starts
    • While waiting in line
    • While waiting for friends