Winning the Flashcard War

Thanks to the passage of time and some advice from frequent commenter, Dev, my number of daily flashcard reviews has decreased from ~400 total to just over 200. It’s time to start learning new characters again.

The tide has turned.
The tide has turned.

It’s currently taking me about 30 – 35 minutes to complete my flashcard reviews each day. I attribute this to i. not learning any new cards for nearly 10 days, which has given me time to review the ones I already know; ii. aggressively pushing reviews to later dates (if I know the answer to a card instantly, I rate it as “easy” instead of just “good”).

My original goal for the first three months was to learn the 3000 most common Chinese characters. I learned 1500 in just over 30 days and there are now 50 days and 1500 characters remaining. That means I need to learn at least 30 new characters per day to reach my initial goal. I think this is doable. However, it would also be doable to learn these 1500 characters in a month or even in a week. The question is whether it would be wise to do so or not.

Just as one places restrictions on oneself before making a summit attempt (if the forecast calls for a thunderstorm, I retreat; if it’s past 3 PM and I haven’t reached the summit, it’s too late and I have to call it off; etc), I will place a few restrictions on myself before learning the next 1500 characters. After all, I nearly burned out learning the first 1500.

  1. 60 cards (30 characters) per day maximum. This will enable me to come close to reaching 1500 characters 50 days from now. Most likely it will take ~55 days. That’s OK.
  2. Reduce the number of new cards to 30 (15 characters) per day whenever the daily reviews hit 300. 200 reviews takes about 30 minutes. 300 takes 40 – 45 and is the point where Anki starts being a pain in the ass.
  3. Continue to aggressively rate cards as “good” or “easy” to push their reviews as far back as possible. I still have a 95%+ success rate on the cards, which is probably too high — a 90% success rate would be acceptable and would decrease the amount of time spent studying cards dramatically. I may also take Dev’s advice and modify some of Anki’s parameters to push cards back even further, but I will consider that at a later date.
heisig feb review count
Both the number of reviews and review time have mercifully decreased since the cessation of learning new cards.
heisig feb answers
I still have a very high success rate on cards, perhaps too high.


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