A Comprehensive Breakdown of How to Use Anki

Dec 25, 2023 | Med, YouTube

What Is Anki?

Anki is a powerful flashcard memorisation tool favoured by students across various fields. While its interface may initially seem daunting, it’s the functionality and versatility that makes Anki an indispensable ally in your learning arsenal. Central to its effectiveness is the built-in spaced repetition system, which optimises your study sessions based on your self-assessed recall of ‘Again’, ‘Hard’, ‘Good’, or ‘Easy’.

Navigating the Settings

Here I’ll provide my settings that I use (take these with a pinch of salt and adjust them to your liking)

These settings can be quite confusing – so before changing yours I would suggest having a look at the following videos to get an idea of what these settings entail so you can be a bit more autonomous when changing your settings.

The BEST Anki Settings and Algorithm Explained (by an expert!)

The NEW Best Anki Settings 2024! New FSRS vs Anki default algorithm (SM-2)

Essential Add-Ons

To enhance your Anki experience, consider these add-ons:

  • Image Occlusion Enhanced: Perfect for visual learners, this add-on allows you to block out parts of an image to test your knowledge.
  • Heat-map: Get a visual overview of your study habits and progress.
  • Button Colours Good Again: Customises the review buttons with colours for better visual feedback.
  • Closet for Anki: A toolkit for adding functionality to your cards. This one is needed to use the card type “AnKing Cloze” & “IO one by one”.

Card Types

Basic & Basic (and Reversed)

The bread and butter of Anki cards. Pose a question and provide an answer. These cards demand a clear understanding as crafting a question requires insight into the topic.

Be wary of information overload – too much per card can be overwhelming.


Great for lists or sets of data, like symptoms of a medical condition.

With Cloze+, you get a dedicated section for extra info to enrich your understanding.

But remember, too much reliance on cloze can lead to rote memorisation rather than conceptual understanding.

AnKing Cloze

A variation that lets you tackle cloze deletions individually, which is useful for avoiding the “all-or-nothing” reveal of traditional cloze cards.

Image Occlusion

Incorporate diagrams directly into your study process. This is especially useful for anatomy, pathways, and any subject with a strong visual component.

IO One by One

Similar to Image Occlusion, but reveals occluded items one at a time. Ideal for step-by-step processes depicted in diagrams.


Quick Tips for Maximum Retention

  • Learn the shortcuts for creating cloze deletions (Shift-Command-C) and bullet points (Command+Comma).
  • Avoid the ‘Hard’ option—it can disrupt the spaced repetition algorithm.
  • Don’t overdo it with Image Occlusion cards to prevent repetitive and less meaningful learning.
  • Make cards understandable to your future self; we often overestimate our future memory capabilities.
  • When studying concepts, aim for comprehension over word-for-word memorisation.
  • Group related Image Occlusion cards to streamline your review sessions.


Anki might seem complex at first glance, but with these tips and tricks, you’re well on your way to becoming an Anki aficionado. Remember, the goal is to make your study sessions as efficient and effective as possible—Anki is just the tool to help you do that. 

This is just a simple explanation of some of the things I wish someone would’ve told me before I started using Anki – so I hope this helped.

Happy studying!



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I’m Aqeel — a medical student and graphic designer based in the UK.