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Anki’s ‘Cram’ feature

June 1, 2011

I’ve been using Anki to review kanji recently. After a while, though, leaving Anki with full control over which cards to test me on got kind of frustrating, so I did some searching and found out about the Cram feature. Basically, this feature let’s you select which cards to be tested on. So, if you know you are having trouble with a set of kanji, select them, choose Cram, and Anki will create a temporary deck for you to be tested on.

This is what I did. I use an Anki deck called ‘Heisig’s Remember the Kanji (RTK) 1+3’.

First, load Anki and open the deck you want to cram from. In my example, the Heisig based deck is the top option. Click ‘Open’ to open the deck. 

Once the deck is open, select the magnifying glass at the top of the deck to open the ‘Browse Items’ window.

Once this window is open, you will see the entries in the current deck. On the right hand side, you will see a “Sort:” option. Next to it is a drop down menu. Click it, and select which information you want to sort by (in this case, ‘Heisig Number’).

This will reorder the deck (In the Browse Items window, not the actual order of the cards in the deck), and will allow you to select a group of cards based on number (in the example, cards/kanji 312-324).

Next, select Actions in the top-left corner and choose “Cram…” (Actions -> Cram…).

In the new menu that pops up, choose whichever mode you like, and click ‘Ok’.

This will open your newly made, but temporary deck. You can review the cards now, or save the deck by choosing ‘File -> Save As…’, and typing in a file name.

Your new, more selective, deck is ready to use! It’s an easy to use feature, but not very obvious if you haven’t read the documentation.

I like this feature mainly because it lets me have more control over what I am being tested on. If you’re revising for exams or something, you can select your weakest areas using this method and brush up on whatever you’re not great at. You can also individually select cards by holding CTRL and clicking. Just make sure to hold CTRL each time you click and they will be added to your current selection.

Alternatively, click to make a start point, then hold Shift and click to select a group.

Even MORE alternatively, click a start point, Shift-click your end point to make a group. Then, move down the list to another group you want to select, CTRL click a start point, then Shift-click again further down the list to make several groups to cram.

Other decks undoubtedly have their own tags and so on that you can use as your reference for sorting, but I was glad to see the deck I used here could be sorted by Heisig Number (i.e., How the kanji are listed in the book. Assuming you’re going through the book lesson by lesson, this could be a great feature). Just keep selecting ‘Soon’ (or press the ‘1’ key) to keep cramming as long as you like, constantly rotating through your selected cards.

I’m not sure what “damaging effects” this Cram method could have on the so-called learning curve that Anki manages under the hood, so I guess you should “use it at your own risk”, or something!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. zpwnancer permalink
    June 2, 2011 4:48 am

    I thought about using this, but decided I will just trust Anki. I figured if I do too much at once, then the next time I may remember, but after a longer time forget. I don’t know, it probably wouldn’t hurt anything, learning is learning right? =)

    • June 2, 2011 10:19 am

      Ya, in general I trust Anki, too. It seems like it would be useful though for the night or few days before a test or something though 😮

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