Converting notes to Anki cards

tomkat1215's Avatar


10 Jan, 2014 02:09 PM

Hello all (especially Japanese-language speakers and learners),

I'm currently studying for a very big test for a university in Japan covering a very wide area of study, specifically Asian (India/China/Japan) Religion and Philosophy. Basically, my main study materials are:

  1. Past tests, with example answers taken from various reference works (~100 pages)
  2. A collection of very well-made notes from past students (sempai) (~45 pages)
  3. A 250-ish page introductory texts (in English) that more or less covers the whole subject matter to be tested, albeit not in Japanese

The test includes:
Two essay questions on broad topics,
Six more specific questions asking you basically to explain a topic such as important terms, historical figures, or an important written work in a paragraph or so.

Because the notes are so well made, and concise (albeit hand-written), I am thinking that, more than reading the book and the past tests, I am now thinking that I am mostly going to use them to study, but my question is:

What is the best way to handle this material? Although I have some time before the test, its not enough time to go through all of the above material, so I need some way to efficiently distill it. (I've attached two typical pages of the above-mentioned notes for reference.)

Is Anki really a good way to handle this? or should I use some more traditional method? Like, simply try to memorize these notes as they are written. Although alot of the material is review (i.e. I've heard it before, but never been tested on it), and some of it I'm pretty familiar with, some of it is entirely new. Any advice or ideas?


  1. 1 Posted by Soren Bjornstad on 10 Jan, 2014 03:48 PM

    Soren Bjornstad's Avatar

    How long do you have to study before the test?

  2. 2 Posted by tomkat1215 on 11 Jan, 2014 11:13 AM

    tomkat1215's Avatar

    The test is in about six weeks, but I'm pretty busy in between now and then. I should say, that I've actually already been studying on and off for 3 ish months already, mostly reading through some of the past-test material but of course, as its the lead-up to the test, I'll be putting more time than I have been to do a comprehensive review, and wondering if making cards could be useful or just a waste of time (although maybe I'm asking the wrong audience...)

  3. 3 Posted by Vit on 11 Jan, 2014 08:11 PM

    Vit's Avatar

    "Do not change horses in midstream." Since do not know Anki well enough and
    2.your Study Topics will require more then a combination of Short_Question / Short-answer ; and have time only to go thru your materials 2-3 times,

    my opinion - study as you've always done.
    And, if you are one of rare open-minded persons, I suggest (for the most important facts) using Sticky notes; write a Question on the Note and COVER the place in text where the info is. This approach will help you to use ACTIVE Recall to drastically improve your Retention.


  4. 4 Posted by tomkat1215 on 11 Jan, 2014 11:37 PM

    tomkat1215's Avatar

    Thank you for the advice, Vit.

    As for "not changing horses midstream," basically, as I said, I've pretty much been reading through the past tests up til now, which is a good way to familiarize myself with the testing format, and some of the more general information, but now I'm trying to figure out a way to remember some of the more specific information, specifically from the above notes. At this point I've been experimenting with simply copying the above notes verbatim by hand, typing some of the main points up (or copying the info from digitized reference works) and making cloze-flashcards in anki, and simply trying to just read through the notes. Basically, copying the notes is pretty slow, and I also don't tend to remember the details any better than just reading them, while making flashcards, and then using anki to review them is even slower, and I have some doubts about whether my flash cards are formatted effectively. I guess my hope is to have a way to figure out what I need to remember, and make cards in an efficient manner, if that's even possible.

    I should say that, as for #1, althought its my first time posting here, I've actually used Anki pretty consistiently for about five years now for studying Japanese and Chinese. Although I've mostly used it for language-related study, this material is proving to be more difficult for me. I guess the issue is that, despite having in fact lots of experience using srs, there is still the fundamental problem of how to make good, effective flash cards. Even though Anki is pretty much my go-to method for learning language, and I have a pretty good method, I think, for making cards in that realm, I still feel like that sometimes studying with anki is not actually as effective as I'd expect.


  5. System closed this discussion on 22 Feb, 2016 11:40 PM.

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