Recall confidence

Hawlabarde Shinua's Avatar

Hawlabarde Shinua

27 Dec, 2013 03:31 AM

For the few years I have been using SRS for learning, I've noticed countless benefits. My retention rate floats around 95% - 96%. However, the confidence with which I recall is many times less than expected. In many cases, there's a fair level of doubt even though I'm almost always right if I go with the first thing that comes to mind.

This lack of confidence in my recall has been bothering me lately. Being a very careful person in general, I know I will not be comfortable sharing a piece of knowledge with others unless I am sure of my recall.

Do you guys experience this? Are there other ways of improving recall confidence besides reduction of the interval modifier?

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Damien Elmes on 27 Dec, 2013 07:14 AM

    Damien Elmes's Avatar

    Spaced repetition systems are generally calibrated for retention rather
    than fluency, as achieving fluency requires a lot more practice. You can
    use the interval modifier in the settings to increase review frequency, but
    you need to ask yourself whether the large increase in workload is worth it.

  2. 2 Posted by Andreas Tomasin... on 30 Dec, 2013 08:04 AM

    Andreas Tomasini's Avatar

    I've got the same problem. Often I'm not really confident about the knowledge I have. I learn (or memorize for that matter) so much with with Anki and have about 96% retention, too. But when someone asks me, mostly the right answer comes to mind directly, but I'm not 100% sure if I'm right.

    I think this is a downside of using those testing-based systems. As it's written in an article:

    "Those who took the test after reading the passage predicted they would remember less than the other students predicted — but the results were just the opposite."


    It's exactly the experience I always make. As Damien said, the only way around this may be practice.

  3. 3 Posted by mnhende2 on 30 Dec, 2013 09:20 AM

    mnhende2's Avatar

    There are some things you can do during reviews that I have found help
    with recall confidence, but it adds a significant amount of time to the
    reviews. However, I have found that it actually more helpful than
    trying to learn by just significantly increasing the total number of

    It takes more time, because you have to spend more time on each card
    trying to put the knowledge, in your mind, back into a real world
    setting. How you do this varies depending on the subject (whether you
    are talking about a physics principle, general knowledge, a foreign
    language, etc).

    But here is a sample of what I do with foreign language words. Before
    going onto the next card (say the new word for example), I will try to
    place the word, into a real world setting. I can do that by a
    combination of things, such as:

    1) Recalling the last time I heard that word used in a natural setting.

    2) Thinking about the next time, I think I will encounter that word in
    a natural setting.

    3) Using that word in a sentence, based on the situation that I am
    likely to next encounter that word.

    4) Thinking about a situation where I would need to use that word, and
    the coming up with a sentence of how I would communicate it.

    5) Recalling any times that I would have been nice to have known the

    6) Imagine teaching the word to someone. Or even verbally talking out
    loud as if I were trying to teach the word to someone.

    7) Etc, etc.

    Another strategy that I'll do sometimes, if I have a learning partner,
    is for me to not look at the screen and to instead have the person read
    to me (or describe to me what is on the screen). For some subjects and
    some card types, this has worked quite well.

    And a final strategy, which also has worked well, but again, obviously
    adds workload is to create multiple versions of a card from a single
    note. For language cards, for example, I have a spoken recognition
    (listening), speaking production, written recognition (reading), and
    typing/writing production card for each note.

    These strategies certainly wouldn't be worthwhile for all subjects or
    even all people, but when you have a deck that you are really trying to
    master and you want to increase recall fluency, some of these may help.



  4. 4 Posted by Vit on 02 Jan, 2014 02:00 AM

    Vit's Avatar

    Confidence is the topic- nit the memorizing.

    You said,
    'In many cases, there's a fair level of doubt even though ***** I'm almost always right ***** if I go with the first thing that comes to mind."
    My suggestion - TRUST your Intuition; you have the proof : "I'm almost always right ". The problem does not exist - it is in your head, IMO.

    PS.I am not a doctor, but read a few things.

  5. 5 Posted by Hawlabarde Shin... on 02 Jan, 2014 01:52 PM

    Hawlabarde Shinua's Avatar

    Thanks to all who contributed. vrem, I wonder if you'd "trust your intuition" if faced with a technical question in a critical setting and answer (guess) despite your lack of certainty. Your suggestion would apply to someone who struggles with self-confidence, not someone who wishes to improve their recall confidence or fluency.

    As others suggested, it appears that active interaction with the material is the primary cure. The rate of fluency will grow at an increasingly slower pace for a given increase in study time, but the extra time investment may be a worthwhile investment for some people and in certain subjects.

  6. 6 Posted by thomas.tempe on 26 Jan, 2014 11:23 PM

    thomas.tempe's Avatar


    If you recalled a card, but don't feel you know it well enough, you should click "too hard", not "OK". And if you feel like it's almost by chance that you guessed it right, you might even consider "forgot".

    Your rating reflects how well you recall the card relative to your expectation.

  7. Soren Bjornstad closed this discussion on 07 Feb, 2014 04:16 PM.

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