Best anki settings you need to know about

Best Anki Settings You Need To Know About [Full Breakdown]

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One of the most useful yet confusing tools for students, particularly in medical school, is Anki. And so we’re gonna make this super useful tool a lot simpler by going over the best Anki settings for you as a student.

Let’s get into it!

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Wait a minute! If you want this post in a video format, you can check out my YouTube video below! Make sure to subscribe for weekly content and leave a comment if you enjoy this one!

Here is a full breakdown of the best settings that you could be using in Anki. And we’ll talk about everything from basic settings, how to make sense of the settings, to how to actually adjust the settings to best use them for your particular circumstance.

And if you’re brand new to Anki, I definitely recommend watching this video first: How To Use Anki Like A Pro [Full Step-by-Step Walkthrough]

This will not only break down how Anki works and the basic profiles, but also show the advanced strategies that I used as a medical student to go from 10 hours a day to 5 hours a day of studying, and still graduate with a 3.9 GPA.

So if you’re not familiar with what Anki is, if it’s still really confusing, and you want to know how to actually use it, then go ahead and check out this video first.

Once you’re done with that, you can come back to this blog post to understand the minutia of the settings which, I’ll be completely honest, is still very confusing.

I’m not going to pretend that I understand every single detail. So if I do make a mistake, just politely comment down below. In that way, we can all learn.

Full disclaimer: I didn’t learn all this by myself. Here are links to amazing blog posts that I found where people really got into the math and the numbers behind all these settings. So if you’re wanting to learn more or if this article doesn’t help you out, make sure to check these links:

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Basic Settings

As a quick overview, we will talk about the basic settings of Anki, the settings for the learning aspect of it, and how to make some changes.

If you feel like you’re already somewhat of a pro at Anki, then go ahead and jump to the parts that you’re most interested in.

Night Mode

This is just one thing that is good to know: the Night mode.

If you really enjoy this black look, which I definitely do, you can click Night mode and restart Anki to have this look. Otherwise, you will have the typical white background, which is also totally fine.

night mode - best anki settings

Scheduling Settings

Next and probably the most important is the Scheduling settings.

Show Next Review Time Above Answer Button

And one of the things that you want to make sure is checked is the “Show next review time above answer button“.

show next review time - best anki settings

Here’s what it does:

If this setting is unchecked and I go into any flashcard, I wouldn’t see the times above my Easy, Good, Hard, and Again functions.

But if I tick that option, there will be time intervals above each individual selection that I make.

show next review time ON - best anki settings

So I usually recommend that you go ahead and keep that checked so that you’ll know the next time you will see a flashcard again.

Show Remaining Card Count During Review

Next, I recommend keeping this checked: “Show remaining card count during review“.

show remaining card count - best anki settings

By doing this, you’ll know how many cards are left before you’re done with your review.

It’s nice for me to keep an eye on how many cards I have left, especially if I have little time left and lots of cards to review.

Mix New Cards And Old Cards

The next function is about how you want Anki to treat your new cards and new flashcards that you make as well as your old review ones.

mix new cards and old cards - best anki settings

You can either choose to have a mixture where Anki mixes new and old cards together, or you can choose to see your new cards first or your old cards first.

This is a matter of preference. I’ve seen a lot of students use any one of these options and do perfectly fine.

Bonus: Want better grades with more free time (and less stress)? Get access to our free 3-step study system here to see what other top students do that you may not be doing!

Next Day Starts At

In this part, you can choose when you want your next day to start. I recommend just putting this four hours past midnight, because most of us aren’t doing flashcards at 4:00 AM.

Next day starts at - best anki settings

Learn Ahead Limit

The learn ahead limit says that if you click a flashcard and you want it to show up in 15 minutes, then what is the maximum time that you can see that flashcard again.

If you set it to zero, then the quickest you can see it is in 15 minutes. But if you show it again in 15 or 10 minutes, that means if you’re done with all of your flashcards, they’ll show you that one again. Usually, I just set this to 20 and that’s what it’s been since the start.

Learn ahead limit - best anki settings

Timebox Time Limit

And finally, your timebox time limit is for some kind of motivating factor that says, “Hey, you’ve reviewed X amount of cards in the last 30 minutes”. You can set this up and it’ll give you a little of a notification that says you’ve done this many flashcards.

timebox time limit - best anki settings

I usually don’t care to have Anki motivate me any more than it demotivates me about the hundreds of cards that I have here. But everyone has their own personal option.

Network Settings

In case you’re having any issues with your network connection or syncing your cards, you can just copy my current settings:

network settings - best anki settings

How Anki Settings Work

So now that we’ve gotten into the basic settings, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of how all of the important settings in Anki work, which is really where the confusing part comes.

Doing this for four years, I really didn’t understand any of this and I just never cared to. But hopefully, I can explain the different buttons and how you can adjust and change these based on your next quiz, your next exam, or how well you want to learn certain information.

We’re gonna go into the options and really try to make sense of each and every one of these things.

New Cards Tab

Here are the settings under New Cards.

Steps

To make sense of these settings, the first thing we have to understand is what Steps mean.

steps - best anki settings

Steps is how you want your cards to graduate or how you want Anki to move them along every time you do or don’t understand a flashcard.

The Steps I put are 1 and 10. This means that if I don’t know a card and I click “Again“, Anki will show the card to me again in 1 minute.

And if I select “Good, then it will show me that card again in 10 minutes.

Now, I can type another time after that, let’s say, 60 minutes.

steps (3 intervals) - best anki settings
What does this mean?

This means that if I click “Again“, it’s gonna show me the flashcard just like before in 1 minute.

Then if I click “Good” on a flashcard because I know it, it’s gonna show it to me again in 10 minutes.

And if I click “Good” again, then the next time that the card will show up is after 60 minutes.

again, good - best anki settings

So essentially, I’m going to be learning this card in three steps, the first one being my option for “Again“, and everything after that will be in the “Good” interval.

And then after that, the card is “graduated”. That means I feel like I have learned it.

I can also choose a different Options group.

steps (in minutes) - best anki settings
In the Steps for this option, you can see 60, 1440, 2880, and 5760.

This means that if I click “Again“, Anki will show the card to me again in 60 minutes.

After that, if I say “Good” then I’m going to see the card again in 1 day (1440 minutes).

steps (good - 1 day) - best anki settings

If tomorrow I see the same flashcard and I click “Good“. It will show up again in 2 days (2880 minutes).

steps (good - 2 days) - best anki settings

And then if I click it one more time, the flashcard will be shown to me again in 4 days (5760 minutes).

steps (good - 4 days) - best anki settings

So that’s how the intervals work.

All of this is in minutes, which is a little confusing, but it gives you a little bit more granular control. So you can play with these settings as you like.

You can always add an Options group by going to Manage and then Add.

Steps (add option group) - best anki settings

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Order

The next part of the settings gives you the option to “Show new cards in order added” or “Show new cards in random order“.

New card - Order (Best Anki settings)

Usually, I recommend “Show new cards in order added” so that the new material is out of the way early on. But you can play with the preferences whichever way you want.

New Cards/Day

The next is pretty self-explanatory: how many new cards you want to see per day.

new cards per day - best anki settings

Usually, I set this to a number that is a little higher than the number of cards that I typically make in a day.

So if I’m typically making 50 cards in a day, then I’ll probably set it to 100 so I can make sure I see all of my new cards the day that I make them.

Graduating Interval

The next setting we have to talk about is the Graduating Interval, which basically says that a card is under the learning phase if it’s somewhere within this interval.

graduating interval - best Anki settings

Based on this Steps settings, when I click “Good” on day 2 (2880 minutes), then the card is officially graduated.

Now, the Graduating Interval is the number of days to see the card again after it is graduated.

So if I choose the graduation interval to be 10, then that would mean that the next time that card would show up after being graduated would be 10 days.

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Easy Interval

The easy interval is also very self-explanatory. These steps are really used for the “Again” and “Good” options within Anki, which I really didn’t understand before. I was always pressing the “Easy” option if I really knew a card.

Essentially, if you use a “Good” and the “Again” options, you’re using the Anki algorithm to help move a card along. But if you press “Easy“, you skip all of that and the card automatically graduates.

And so that’s something to keep in mind. If you think a card is somewhat easy, but not really enough to where you feel like it’s done with the Anki algorithm, then usually pressing “Good” is your way to go. Especially if you want to see a card more often than not.

The default for the Easy Interval is 4 days. I recommend keeping it at that.

Bury Related New Cards Until The Next Day

Something I would recommend checking is the “Bury related new cards until the next day“.

bury related new cards (best anki settings)

For example, I’m using Anki to study geography. I have a card with “The capital of Texas is Austin”  and another one with “Austin is the capital of Texas”. I wouldn’t want to see both of those flashcards on the same day.

So by checking this option, if one card is supposed to show up today, the other will “get buried” at least until the next day.

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Reviews Tab

Next, we’re going to get into the Reviews tab and the settings that I recommend.

Reviews (Best anki settings)

Maximum Reviews Per Day

The first thing that you have to think about is the Maximum reviews per day. Most students will set this number as high as possible because they don’t want a card not to show up just because the review number was a little bit too low.

If you set the number at 9999, this makes sure that the cards that should be scheduled for that day aren’t lingered because of this one setting.

Maximum Interval

One thing that you should keep in mind is Maximum interval, which is the longest time that you want to go until you see a flashcard for the next time.

This is set for a hundred years by default. A hundred years is kind of ridiculous. But I would recommend changing this, particularly if you’re studying for something like a board exam.

So if your test is going to be in a year (365 days), then you may want to see the card again in 200 days. So even if the interval is much longer than 200, you’ll at least see a card more than once before a test day.

Otherwise, you can just keep it at 365, which means that you’ll see those flashcards again, at least within a year.

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Bury Related Reviews Until The Next Day

And on a similar note, whenever you’re doing your reviews, also click the “Bury related reviews until the next day” to make sure that you don’t see similar cards on the same day.

Like the previous example with the two cards, “The capital of Texas is Austin” and “Austin is the capital of Texas”. I wouldn’t wanna see those same cards on the same day.

So clicking this setting will make sure that that’s avoided.

I don’t usually touch the rest of the settings in the Reviews tab.

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Lapses Tab

Now, the Lapses settings basically show what happens to a graduated card. These are the new steps for each individual card before it is graduated again.

It answers the following questions: After it is officially graduated, what if that card is now shown to me again? So when you lapse on a card or you have to press “Again“, then how does that card move going forward?

Steps

For example, I don’t know that Austin is the capital of Texas, but I knew that a month ago or a week ago. And so this basically says that to regraduate that card based on the default settings of Anki, it would just have to be shown again in 10 minutes. But if you really wanted to make sure you nail it down, then you can add a little bit more time.

So if the card is shown and I know it, I can press “Good” for the card to be shown again in 10 minutes. The default setting is just 10 minutes, but you can make this even longer and have multiple steps. So a card that you’ve forgotten can be easily remembered. For example, you can do 10, and then 60.

Lapse - Steps - Best Anki Settings

New Interval

The next thing that we have to talk about that’s really important is called a New Interval setting.

Lapse - New Interval - Best Anki Settings

If you do lapse on a card, you can have cards that you may see in 365 days or cards that you haven’t seen in 30 days. If you set the New Interval to 0%, which is the default setting, it will penalize both cards equally.

So a card that you may know really well, or a card that you haven’t seen for a long time will be shown again in one day.

Usually, that’s not the way you want to do your learning. Most people will set this anywhere from 20-50%.

For example, if you haven’t seen a flashcard in 365 days, and if you set the New Interval at 0%, then the next time you’ll see that card is an interval of one day.

But if you set it at, let’s say, 20%, then the card would be shown after 20% of 365 days, which is roughly 70 days. That means you take a penalty, but not as big as that for a flashcard that’s relatively new.

Leech Threshold And Leech Action

And to finish off the settings, here are the Leech Threshold and the Leech Action. If you see a card that kept graduating and you keep messing up on it over and over again, what do you want Anki to do?

Lapse - Leech Threshold and Leech Action - Best Anki Settings

Usually, I just recommend keeping it at the eight lapses and then tagging. And that means if you have a flashcard that you were once okay with when it graduated and then you keep forgetting it, then you want to make sure Anki does something with it.

Usually, tagging is a great option because then if you’re studying for a board exam or something, you can come back and look at all the flashcards that you somehow knew but now you’re forgetting and it’ll tag with the leech option.

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How To Change The Settings When You Are Cramming

The next few things we’ll talk about is how to change the settings in case you’re prepping for a board exam or you need to review for an exam in a couple of days. Here’s how to make sure you make the best use of Anki.

The Cramming function of Anki is something I used a lot, not because I was cramming, but sometimes the Anki reviews tended to be so much into the future compared to when my test was.

Custom Study

Let’s say that I have a test in three or four days, but I don’t have flashcards that are scheduled for that individual lecture for another week.

So one thing you can do is to use the Custom Study option and click “Study by card state or tag“. Under that, click “All cards in random order“.

Custom Study - Best Anki Settings

And usually, I would make the number of cards from the deck atrociously high. This will give you a custom deck so you can come back to it later. So I type 9999 or something like that.

In that way, especially if I have a lot of cards for an individual test, I’m not limited to a hundred, and I can see all of my cards in a random order for a specific test.

After that, click “Choose Tags” and then click “OK”.

You can use Custom Study per mini deck. Or if you need to study for, let’s say, all of the cardiology material in no particular order, then use Custom Study for that whole deck. It will include all the cards within that big deck.

Cramming Option

The first thing we’ll talk about is Cramming. You can copy the settings below as you need them or just go ahead and make a new one.

Cramming - Best Anki Settings

New Cards

If you do want to use Anki in a quick way, where you just see flashcards over and over again in a short period of time, and you’re just ready to grind out some hours of doing flashcards, then you can make multiple intervals so that you can see the same flashcard again.

The Steps above mean that an “Again” card will show up again in 10 minutes, but then everything that’s “Good” will be shown again in 30 minutes, then 180 minutes, then 720 minutes, and so forth.

The more Steps I add into this process, the more times I’ll see that card before it’s officially graduated, but you can also make these intervals relatively short. So then some of the flashcards will show up again that same day or the very next day.

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Lapses

And in a similar fashion, when you get into the last function, you can copy the settings here.

Cramming - Lapses - Best Anki Settings

Essentially, this means that you’ll see a flashcard within a day (1440 mins), two days (2880 mins), and then four days (5760 mins).

So if you’re studying for a test within a week, then you can be sure to see your “Good” cards within that span of time.

Board Prep Option

Now, if you’re studying for something like a board exam, or if you have a premade Anki deck where there are tons and tons of cards, usually it makes more sense that you start to see the flashcard initially, maybe again in a day or two, and then there’s a larger gap. In that way you have more time to see newer information.

These are my Board Prep settings. You can use the same settings or you can change them however you want.

Board Prep - Best Anki Settings

New Cards

I didn’t necessarily use these settings when I was using Anki, but this is how I would recommend setting this up initially.

If I pressed the “Good” option, the card will show up again in one day (1440 mins). And then if I choose the “Good” option again, it’s going to show up again in three days (4320 mins).

Easy Interval And Graduating Interval

You can change your Easy Interval to something like 10 days if it’s a flashcard that you know really well. And your Graduating Interval after that point will be three days, or if you wanted to make it a week at a time, that’s also okay.

If you feel like you’re mastering certain flashcards and you want a bigger gap between those and to see more and more information, this is what I recommend.

Lapses

And then if you go into the Lapses function, this will mean that if have a card that was “Good” and has graduated, but you kind of forgot it, then it will be shown again in one day (1440 mins) and then seven days (10080 mins).

Board Prep - Lapses - Best Anki Settings

Reviews

And if you’re studying for your board exam, the last thing that I would do is just go into the Reviews tab and change this based on how many days you have left before your actual exam.

Board prep - Reviews - Best Anki Settings

Always give yourself a little bit of extra time.

So if my test was in 300 days, I may want to see that card again in 150 days. In that way, I can possibly see it again for a second time before the test.

Usually, I keep the minimum at 365 days.

Bonus: Want better grades with more free time (and less stress)? Get access to our free 3-step study system here to see what other top students do that you may not be doing!

Now, if you’ve understood all of that so far, bless you because it usually takes a while. 

And again, if any of that is confusing, you can check out the articles and blogs below that get into a lot more detail. They really helped me understand the settings here in Anki.

The bottom line is that you really don’t have to change these settings. It is perfectly fine to use some of those techniques that I talked about in this video: How To Use Anki Like A Pro. If you haven’t watched that yet, I recommend you do so.

Using some of the techniques I shared here will give you a little bit more granular control, especially if you’re cramming or studying for board exams.

Get The Exact 8-Steps I Used To Get A 3.9 GPA In Med School For Free Below!

If you do want to learn more about the eight steps of how to use Anki to go from 10 hours to 5 hours of studying and still get a 3.9 GPA in med school, get this FREE video series and eBook.

These are exactly the eight-step process that I used in medical school.

If you learned a lot from this article, then you might want to check out these other helpful blog posts:

Until the next time my friend…

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