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The Art of Magnetic Memory and the Power of Spaced Repetition Systems


WWH Memorisation and Repetition

Perfect for you if:

  • You’ve always wanted to be better at remembering things.
  • You’ve heard of or tried Spaced Repetition but aren’t sure what’s next.
  • “Why would I memorise things when I can look anything I want up in two seconds?”

Memorisation is a powerful learning technique that is often misunderstood, misused and misrepresented.

In fact, there are at least four compelling reasons why making time each day to memorise new things will change your life:

  1. It works out your brain: Memorisation is hard. Practising it trains discipline and focus.
  2. It improves mental speed: Looking things up is powerful but slow and limited by working memory.
  3. It creates meaning: More information improves our ability to identify and connect ideas in the world around us.
  4. It unlocks creativity: Memorisation gives our creative subconscious access to information that stimulates creative insight.

So, in today’s article and with those points in mind I’d like to:

  • Break down a recipe for faster learning with a story about the construction of the great city of Amsterdam;
  • Introduce you to some powerful techniques in memorisation, knowledge maintenance and understanding; and
  • Show you not only “What” to learn but also “When” and “How” to get started right away.

Whether you want to:

You’ll find find something in here that helps. And by the end of our journey I hope you’ll:

  • Have some clear ideas of “When” and “How” to implement memorisation in your own life.
  • Understand how to avoid common pitfalls in memorisation and spaced repetition; and
  • Feel excited about the impact of a few simple tools in helping you reach your own goals.

For now, though, what better place to begin our story than a deserted marshland that would one day give rise to a bustling metropolis.


The city of Amsterdam is a marvel of engineering. Not for its cobbled streets, postcard perfect houses or infamous red-light district. Not even for its many canals, bridges or grand buildings.

Amsterdam is a marvel of engineering because, like a surprising number of cities, it is built almost entirely on a swamp. And swamps, as I’m sure you can imagine, are not the easiest places to build cities. Not least because things have a tendency to sink and disappear into them.

So how do you build a city on a swamp? The answer, of course, is on stilts; and Amsterdam is built on millions of them.

The Dutch discovered that if they drove long tree trunks deep enough into the swamp they would eventually hit firm ground. Sink enough posts and eventually you can even build a house on top of them.

Today, Amsterdam is home to roads, homes, museums, parks, palaces and cathedrals – all built on stilts. From this simple technique rose a powerhouse of trade that was, at one point, the wealthiest city in the world.

But there’s a catch: you’re still in a swamp!

Eventually, the posts begin to rot; and when the posts rot, the buildings start to sink, distort and lean on their weakening foundations. To this day, Amsterdam needs a clever maintenance system to keep their city above water. A system that regularly checks and maintains not only all the posts, but also the right posts at the right time.

So what does Amsterdam have to do with an article on learning and memorisation? Good question: the answer is that the analogy is just too good to pass up.

You see:

  • Our brains are a lot like the swamp that sits under Amsterdam;
  • Facts are like the posts we need to create stable platforms for learning;
  • Memorisation is like the act of driving those wooden posts deep into the swamp;
  • Spaced Repetition is like the process used to check and maintain them; and
  • Understanding and fluency are like the houses that we build on top.

Your brain is a marvel of engineering. Not for its neural highways, beautifully evolved structures or billions of interacting cells. Not even for its unlimited potential or incredible plasticity.

Your brain is a marvel of engineering because everything you known is built on a swamp; and, with the right tools, you too can turn that swamp into one of the finest cities on Earth.


Before we launch into practical tips it’s worth noting quickly that not all subjects benefit as much from memorisation as others.

Can you think of any subjects where the concepts don’t need much support from facts? The early stages of math, physics and most sports are good examples. These subjects are like little patches of firm high ground in your swamp: there’s not a lot to gain from fortifying their foundations. Instead, you’re probably better moving straight on to building understanding and fluency. Of course you may want to e.g., memorise proofs or complex new formulae as you advance but this is usually overkill early on.

Other subjects are located on swampier ground: Languages, History, Medicine, Geography, Chemistry, Biology, Law and games like Chess are all good examples. In these fact-based subjects, memorisation is fundamental to understanding and fluency. Time invested here is well worth the effort.

But time isn’t the only important factor in memorisation; quality is important too. Sure, you can throw a house up quickly taking shortcuts – sometimes you may not have a choice. Just remember: rush-jobs result in low quality or poorly sunken posts that rot faster and need way more maintenance. If you’ve ever crammed for a test only to find almost everything has sunk back into the swamp within the week then you know what I mean.

So how can we improve the quality of memorisation? Here’s a few tips to get you started:


Every building starts with a plan, whether it’s a quick sketch or an architect’s drawing. The same goes for memorisation.

So, before you jump in, always take the time to:

  1. Sketch a full picture: Make sure you can follow and understand the overall structure of the topic that you’re memorising.
  2. Fill in any gaps: Take the time to plug any gaps in your big picture sooner. They will become much harder to work around later.
  3. Break it up: Structure your thinking as much as possible into clear, bite-sized chunks. If your big picture is hard to follow it will be hard to memorise.

Once you have a clear and structured overview of the topic you want to memorise it’s time to…


Take a look at the following list of 15 random items: dog, chair, car, cow, wall, bottle, key, plate, king, phone, cup, ball, clock, carpet, window.

Now, take 30 seconds to try and remember the list – no tricks. Now try and recall them. Difficult right? We’ll come back to the list at the end of the section.

In the meantime we’re going to quickly learn about “mnemonics” (silent first ‘m’). A mnemonic is just a “memory trick”. and whatever their shape or size they all work in the same way:

  • By connecting many small bits of information together in a single new chunk.
  • By anchoring that new chunk as deeply as possible to existing knowledge in the brain.

If you’re not used to using mnemonics then this section may feel like overkill. You may even be tempted to skip it. Don’t. Why? There are two very good reasons:

  1. Time invested now will save you a ton of time in the long run (trust me); and
  2. These tricks will become easier and easier as you get used to them.

Some well known types of mnemonic include:

But most powerful of all are a number of way to tap in to our sizeable visual and spatial memories: E.g.,

  • Chaining: Creating a vivid mental image of two items in a list interacting with each other.
  • Peg System: Chaining items with nouns that have themselves been chained with numbers.
  • Memory palaces: Chaining items to places or objects within a well known space (like your home).
  • Journey method: Chaining items to places of objects on a well known journey (like your commute).

Whatever Mnemonic you choose, they will have much more sticking power if you make them:

  • Personal: by including as many of your own experiences and personal connections to people, places and things as possible.
  • Emotional: by creating or using examples that trigger an emotional response like anger, fear, curiosity or arousal.

For more detail on the above methods and a run down of even more, check out:

I would strongly encourage you to try out one or two of the methods and examples of these techniques. Anyone can master them and they become very powerful, very quickly. (Curious to learn more? check out this guide on how to memorise a monologue)

What’s more, you can use them for almost any imaginable memorisation task: from learning facts or vocabulary to names, telephone numbers and entire speeches.

As an example, let’s take another look at our list of 15 items: dog, chair, car, cow, wall, bottle, key, plate, king, phone, cup, ball, clock, carpet, window.

Now take 30 seconds to try and remember them, but this time, I want you to create a clear mental picture of each item interacting in some weird way with the next item on the list.

The weirder the better: you might picture a dog sitting like a human on a chair, then a chair with four wheels that are cars etc.. whatever, go crazy.

Now try and recall them. Chances are that this time you remembered every single item on the list. Not only that, I bet you could remember it backwards! Why not have a go?

At this point we’ve carefully selected our posts from only the best tree trunks in the land and we’ve driven them deep into the swamp.

Now it’s time to talk about maintenance…


If mnemonics answer the question of “How”, spaced repetition answers the question of “When”.

Spaced repetition is an every day phenomena. In fact, as we go through our lives we are naturally exposed to important concepts over and over again. We constantly reinforce ideas and knowledge through e.g., personal experience, practice, reading, problem solving, discussion and teaching.

And, so long as frequency is a good predictor of (a) objective accuracy and (b) importance, all is well and good in the world.

But there’s a well documented and studied problem with this assumption. It turns out that frequency, at least in today’s world, is often a very bad predictor of both:

  • Partly because of the biased way we process information;
  • Partly because we tend to seek out biased information; and
  • Partly because the information itself is often already biased.

When it comes to learning and memory this is most obvious in our natural tendency to be lazy at maintenance. For example, we often:

  • Focus most on the posts we come across naturally; and
  • Prefer to maintain the posts we already know well and which don’t need that much work.

The result is self-delusion. An illusion of confidence where we:

  • Know a few things very well;
  • Rehearse them often because it is easy and feels good; and
  • Take that as evidence for a broader and more stable knowledge base than we actually have.

Meanwhile, the remaining posts in the foundation tend to rot away. As a result, whether we realise it or not, the buildings constructed on them become dangerously distorted or even collapse entirely.

In our analogy, the solution to this problem is a methodical maintenance plan that forces us to confront, check and maintain all the posts in the system. What’s more, to be efficient the best plans must know not only exactly which posts need checking most but also exactly when.

In the brain, it turns out that the most effective and efficient time to review a fact is just before you’re about to forget it. And our the solution to our neural maintenance problem is “Spaced Repetition Systems“.


There is no better way to maintain knowledge than through complimentary active recall techniques like:

  • Testing, testing and re-testing yourself;
  • Synthesising concepts in your own words; and
  • Teaching others.

(Incidentally, mindless rehearsing, copying and (re-)reading are all commonly used but terrible approaches.)

And yet, when it comes to spaced repetition, there is no tool more powerful, systematic or democratic than a simple, well designed flashcard.


Flashcards are not an easy shortcut. Creating good flashcards is a skill in its own right and often the end product of the active recall techniques listed above.

Of course you don’t need to do any of this, but, as with mnemonics, taking the time to think about your flashcards up front will save you a lot of wasted time down the line.

The exact formula of a perfect flash card is half science, half personal preference. The best way to learn is just to get started, experiment and discover what works for you over time.

For now, here are a few guiding principles to help you get started:

Keep it simple.

  • Keep information to a minimum:
    • Test yourself on just one thing at a time.
    • Never use 1 flashcard when you could break it into 5.
  • Minimise wording: Omit needless words.

Make it memorable.

  • Use mnemonics: Combine flashcards with memory techniques for the best effects.
  • Avoid sets: Break lists down into shorter sections.
  • Make it personal: E.g., link a foreign word for “chair” to your favourite chair at home.
  • Use emotion: Use shocking or emotive examples to illustrate points.

Make it unique.

  • Lead with context cues: If ATP stands for:
    • “Adenosine Tri-Phosphate” make the card “Biology: ATP” not “ATP: Biology”; or
    • “Association of Tennis Professionals” make the card “Tennis: ATP” not “ATP: Tennis”.
  • Use deletion: Keep cards unique by blocking:
    • Words out of sentences (cloze deletion); or
    • Sections from images pictures (graphic deletion).

Keep it accurate:

  • List a source: To help keep you clear on conflicting e.g., dates / figures.
  • Date stamp it: To help identify when a card may need updating.

For more detail on creating great Flashcards check out this fantastic guide from Supermemo or these language focussed tips from Gabe Wyner.

Perhaps the most important rule of flashcard creation is this:

  • Make your own flashcards

Downloading and/or using other people’s flashcard collections (also known as decks) does make things easier. It can even be a helpful way to learn how to make your own flashcards better.

But here are a few reasons it’s worth taking the time to create your own:

  • It sense checks your understanding: By not sense-checking your own understanding, you may end up learning other people’s misunderstandings.
  • It makes them yours: Your experience and decisions creating the cards as well as your personal connections on them are a big part of what makes them memorable.
  • They are easier to learn: Focussing on a specific fact for the short time it takes to codify it is a powerful reinforcement process on its own.

Congratulations! You now have the “What”s in your maintenance system. The question to turn to now is “When”…


Spaced Repetition Systems (SRSs) is the name given to systems and tools for scheduling flashcard reviews. They come in two flavours: Manual or Automatic.

Manual SRS

Perhaps the best known manual approach is the Leitner system. This is physical flashcard territory: it’s low tech, accessible and great for small numbers of cards.

The focus of this section is going to be on automatic digital systems. So, if paper and pen are your tools of choice checkout out Wikipedia and Google for some great pointers.

Automatic SRS

Automatic SRSs are digital tools that specialise in managing flashcard maintenance schedules. Their main advantages over manual systems include:

  • Managing customised review schedules for individual flashcards;
  • Automatically generating many related flashcards from just a few fields of information;
  • Scaling easily up to tens of thousands of flashcards; and
  • Embedding mixed media (e.g., pictures, videos, sounds) right into the card.

If you’ve learned a language recently the chances are that you’ve used an SRS. Notable implementations include Memrise, Duolingo, Lingvist, Skritter and (my personal favourite) Anki.

When it comes to SRSs, the main difference between tools are their self-imposed limitations. Anki is free and by far the most flexible and powerful of the options. And yet that does come at a cost in terms of its initial learning curve – luckily their extensive manual is excellent.

If you’ve never used an SRS before then you’re in for a treat they will totally change the way you learn almost anything you care to think of.

For example, as of today, my own Anki decks contain over 20,000 cards that teach me:

  • LanguagesGerman, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish and English;
  • History: Important dates and people;
  • Philosophy: Important philosophers and terminology;
  • Art: esp. taxonomical info for important artworks and terminology; to
  • Poetry: English and German for now;
  • Geopolitics: Locations, names and details of countries, cities, mountains, rivers etc…; and
  • Other: Random facts I’ve wanted to learn like the names for the phases of the moon etc…

Whatever floats your boat: from medicine, politics, music, economics, chemistry or wine to physics, sports and theology; the potential for digital SRSs is basically unlimited.


The best way to get started with SRS is to:

Decide what you want to learn, implement the tips in this guide and follow the magic formula of “read, test, improve, repeat”.

You are already on a much faster trajectory than I ever was!


As your experience with SRS grows you will discover two common pitfalls:

  • Review overload: Suddenly finding yourself with a backlog of 1,000+ cards to review.
  • Leeches: Cards that you just can’t seem to learn no matter how often you review them.

The first point is not to get stressed about either. These are common issues everyone wrestles with.

Review overload is often caused by either:

  • Getting carried away learning new cards; or
  • Taking an extended break from your daily reviews.

The best solution is prevention:

  • Set an amount of time aside each day that will be consistent and manageable over time.
  • Work out how many cards you can generally get through in that time and work to those levels.
  • Avoid the temptation to load lots of new cards if you have a quiet review day (this will come back to bite you).
  • If you are planning to go away, try and create some space by reviewing ahead (this isn’t best practice but it’s better than nothing!)
  • Be patient: We often greatly overestimate what we can achieve in day and greatly underestimate what we can achieve in a year.

If you do get stuck with a huge backlog of reviews:

  • Don’t panic.
  • Stop adding new cards – there’s no point making things worse.
  • Break the backlog down into manageable chunks – e.g., focus on cards in X topic or from Y date range.
  • Focus on working for X many minutes, instead of worrying about clearing X many cards
  • Be patient: Forgetting is an important part of learning. Everything will come back eventually.

Leeches are a common inhabitant of any swamp. They’re also nothing to worry about. When confronted with leeches simply:

  • Identify cards that you’re struggling with (Anki will do this automatically).
  • Review your leaches and ask yourself: Why am I struggling to remember this card?
  • Use the Flashcard checklist above. What can you include to make it more memorable?

A common cause of forgetting (even for easy cards) is interference:

  • Are there any other flashcards that are very similar to this one e.g., snap v.s., snaap?
  • If so, can you use contextual cues, personal links or deletion to make the cards more unique?

In a worst case scenario, just delete the card. Chances are your house will still be perfectly fine with one less post.


Memorisation and spaced repetition are part of an incredibly powerful learning toolkit.

Like all tools, they are perfect for some jobs and less so for others. They can be used skilfully or misused horribly.

With luck, you’ll now have some better ideas of “When” and “How” to implement memorisation in your own life.

Hopefully you feel like you understand how to avoid some common pitfalls in memorisation and spaced repetition.

What I hope most of all is that you feel excited about the impact a few simple, powerful tools in helping you to reach your own goals.

But perhaps one of the most valuable lessons we can take away from learning brings us full circle back to the city Amsterdam.

Learning is like building a city in a swamp. It isn’t easy, it isn’t always glamorous and it doesn’t happen in a day.

But if we stick at it, if we apply ourselves thoughtfully, if we can work each day a little harder than the forces that work against us, if we do all of these things with energy and diligence:

There’s pretty much no limit to what we can achieve when we set our minds to it.

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  1. David says:

    Hi Arthur,

    Great article, it’s convinced me I need to make Anki a part of my daily routine.

    I’m wondering though, what are you specific tactics for combining mnemonics into your flashcards? Take the memory palace technique, do you just make a card that says “Memory Palace: the place” or perhaps you use the image of the actual place on a card. More generally, are there certain mnemonics that are better suited and more easily combined into flashcards?

    Perhaps my question will be answered when I do a deeper dive into the other articles you’ve linked in this post. If that’s the case, I apologize for using up your time to answer a question that I could have found out myself. I wanted to include it still because, in my attempt to answer it, I came across another article about Anki tips that raised more interesting questions.

    That’s the article. I liked the whole thing, but I especially found the “One deck rather than many partitioned decks” to be a great point. His reasoning is that insights often happen when you combine concepts across different disciplines. Thus, having separate decks may decrease the amount of novel insights you have. What do you think of that idea?

    I’m also wondering if that previous idea could be applied to do away with context cues as well. Maybe it depends on the purpose of the knowledge. Meaning – if the knowledge is for an upcoming test, you would leave the context cues in – so you don’t waste time thinking about the wrong idea. If the knowledge is just for your personal interest, you would leave the context cues out – so you, in theory, would have even more chances of novel insights. You would probably think of the wrong concept sometimes, but does that matter if there’s no external urgency in learning the idea?

    Maybe I’m overthinking that last part..

    Thanks for the great article!


  2. Trevor Klee says:

    Hi Arthur,

    This is a great article, and I really liked your analogy with Amsterdam.

    As a test-prep tutor, memorization is something I’ve thought a ton about as well. I actually wrote an entire (long) essay about learning, “Lessons on a Better Way to Learn” (

    It’s half about memorization, like yours, and then half about learning processes, which is something I work with a lot as a tutor. I’m curious to hear what you think of the essay!

    Trevor Klee

  3. Richard says:

    Do you do incremental reading of any sort? For example, when you’re reading an article you want to remember, how are you going to get it into your Anki system?

    If you use Supermemo, you can read the article in there and use its proprietary incremental reading algorithm. There is also Buboflash which is a webapp that somewhat approximates this, and another app called Readwise which is still in its infancy, but has the interesting features of syncing highlights from services such as kindle, instapaper and highly and applying SRS to them.

    • Arthur says:

      Hi Richard, this is a great question. The short answer is no – I don’t follow/haven’t experimented with Supermemo’s incremental reading protocols. Here’s why:

      When I’m reading articles or books I make LOTS of highlights because almost everything seems interesting and relevant at the time. But the most valuable learning hack I’ve found is actually to create an intentional time gap between reading/highlighting and deciding what to learn.

      When I return to my notes a few days later I inevitably find that only a fraction of my original highlights are really worth preserving in my Commonplace Book (quotes, ideas) or Anki decks (facts).

      My suspicion is that incremental reading would eliminate this valuable layer by making it too easy to simply add everything I come across into those systems, hiding the most valuable things under lots of interesting (but probably unimportant) trivia.

      Interested on your thoughts on this – especially if you’re an incremental reading fan! Best, A

      • Richard says:

        I became interested in incremental reading (IR) because of this article detailing a formerly devoted Anki user’s conversion to Supermemo due to its IR capabilities:

        I understand the point you’re raising – but I think one of the key differences is that with incremental reading is that you don’t have to process the entire article at once – IR interleaves the intentional time gap you speak of:

        From the above article, near the end about IR:

        “log 1 (March 22, 2018):
        I don’t have to process the whole article at once. I really like the idea of processing it multiple times over a certain period of time. It’s distributed practice, one of the learning principles. When I go back to the article, I will have better understood due to the time lapse. So more understanding => better comprehension.

        Log 2 (March 29, 2018):
        There’s no more pressure to read and finish an article at once. I can just import articles into SM, and let it decides when to show them to me. I can also stop reading, press next and revisit the same article later. Since the pressure to finish is gone, I can read a lot more articles.
        I can process the articles incrementally. INCREMENTAL READING FOR THE WIN!”

        Unfortunately, Supermemo alone is capable of doing this algorithmic spaced reading. But I’m trying to figure out if I can do something similar by using other software together. For example, reading an article in Instapaper, I can highlight the interesting parts and annotate it, and send these to Readwise which will send me daily digests of things I’ve highlighted in the past. Then I can decide later what is worth ankifying, or storing in my commonplace book (currently using OneNote but experimenting with as well)

        • Arthur says:

          Hey Richard, thank you so much for sharing this! The article looks awesome so I’ve saved it for a proper read on my upcoming holiday.

          I can come up with lots of arguments why I still disagree but frankly, I’d be basing them on zero evidence which, these days, always rings my old internal, unfounded bias alarm bells: “You cannot teach a man what he thinks he already knows!” haha.

          Leave this with me and I’ll definitely get back to you with my thoughts either here or over email when I’ve given it a go myself. And keep me posted if you find a mac programme that can handle this – I’d love to try it!

          Really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and share these insights. Useful for us all! A

  4. Arthur says:

    I received the following email from Josh over at the and thought I’d paste it here in case it was helpful. Thanks, Josh.


    Hi Arthur,

    I saw your recent post about memory in an email newsletter and wanted to mention a couple of other free resources that you might be interested in. — a community of 20,000 memory enthusiasts where anyone can get their memory questions answered by some of the World’s best memorizers.

    You might be interested in the memory town system for languages. — train with memory techniques online using the same software that is used in this memory championship (new name: Memory League).

    A study about a similar kind of daily memory training and word memorization.

    We also have some more-advanced SRS software in the works that takes things to the next level (designed by memory champions).

    I saw your post and thought you might be interested. 🙂


  5. Erik Hamre says:

    Great article Arthur! Love the Amsterdam analogy, it is really memorable, so probably will keep it in mind anytime I’m learning something new from now on:)

    • Arthur says:

      Thank you for the comment Erik! I’m glad you like the analogy. I had started writing the post and happened to go on a Free Walking Tour of Amsterdam that afternoon. The two ideas just “clicked” as we cycled home along its beautiful canals. The power of “diffuse thinking” at work! Thanks again amigo and looking forward to catching up (and reading some of your writing) soon.

  6. Vladimir says:

    thanks a lot, Arthur! you made it easy to grasp and soo interesting. I was quite amazed already on the step to memorize 15 items forward and backwards – it works! Next come Flashcards implementation!
    Thanks again!

    • Arthur says:

      You’re very welcome Vladimir! Chaining is an amazing demo for the power of mnemonics isn’t it? I remember the first time someone had me try it – I spent about two hours seeing how many things I could memorise off a random list!

      I think the most practical use I’ve found for it so far has been memorising Chinese characters. Each one is built from one or more of 214 different radicals – each representing a different object. For example, the question particle 吗 is built from a mouth 口 and a horse 马. It makes for some trippy stories sometimes but it’s an amazing technique!

      Good luck with the flashcards and let me know if you have any questions!

  7. Tracy Ross says:

    How could I apply these ideas for memorizing music, specifically classical piano repertoire?

    • Arthur says:

      Hi Tracy, great question!

      Here’s a superb article on memorising music in general.

      My own experience over 10 years of playing piano is that regular practice creates a natural spaced repetition effect. The bit I struggled with was having the discipline to make sure I practised the harder bits rather than just rattling through the bits of the piece I knew well.

      Of course, it’s even harder when you don’t have a piano to hand! So, if I had to specifically design flashcards for a classical piano repertoire, I’d probably try this process.

      1. Use an image and/or audio editor to break the piece up into 1 bar chunks (you could also outsource this on e.g., Fiverr)
      2. Create flashcards with e.g., the visual and or audio of two or three bars on the front and the next bar on the back. I might also experiment by deleting the middle one or two bars and using a first and last bar as the cue.
      3. Run the flashcards and test myself by e.g., humming the missing bars whilst tapping out the fingering on the desk or my lap.
      4. Test how that works and adjust the process as I go along!

        I’d be interested to know if any readers have some alternative ideas?

        Otherwise, let me know if that helps. Thanks for the comment and best of luck!

    • Arthur says:

      Hi Sarah, super interesting – I’d not come across Quizlet before. It looks superb – the closest equivalent I think is probably Memrise.

      From scanning a few “Anki vs. Quizlet” threads online it looks like Anki may be the better bet for long-term retention while Quizlet is more user friendly (but still powerful) alternative.

      If I was working with Children I would probably seriously consider a Quizlet/Memrise type solution as I think it would be more “fun” and minimise friction.

      That said, I’m deeply invested in Anki and am a big fan of its flexibility and open-sourcedness. The ability to customise fields for a given card type and then automatically generate as many totally custom cards from that data as you want/need is a particular plus point. Beyond the basic package there’s also a heap of free community generated plug-ins to get it to do pretty much anything you need.

      From what I can see both solutions allow you to import and export cards (although revision history and rich media – audio, video, images – components may be tricky) so you could always try a switch from one to the other.

      So, in short – if you were new to SRS I’d try a few of the options, do some research and then just go with whichever you prefer. If you really pushed me to pick one I’d still plump for investing the time to learn how to use Anki.

      Great question – thanks for asking!

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