Typed answer cards are one of the best cards in Anki. Because they are a very good form of active recall and don’t provide context clues to give you the answer.
This guide is all about how to use and get the most out of typed answer cards in Anki.
What Are Typed Answer Cards
Anki has many different types of cards. Typed answer cards are not often used but, as will become clear, they have unique potential for your memory.
In short, Anki typed answer cards are similar to basic cards. The difference is that these cards allow you to type your answer as a response rather than just thinking about it in your head, which likely benefits retention. When you type in an answer it is compared with the answer on the back after you flip the card over.
How do You Make Typed Answer Cards in Anki?
Here’s how to make typed answer cards step-by-step:
- First, click add on the main toolbar to open the card editor.
- On the top left of the menu click the button next to “type” to change the type of card.
- Click basic (type in the answer).
- Write the front of the card (this is the part of the card you will see).
- Write the back of the card (this is what you will have to type in).
- Click add at the bottom of the card editor
How to Use Typed Answer Cards
Below is what these types of cards look like in action. Here you can see the front of the card (the prompt) and you have to type in the correct answer.
When the answer is revealed you are given a comparison of your answer to the one on the back. This indicates how much you matched the text. In this case, the match is 100%.
Benefits of Typed Answer Cards
Typed answer cards get around the issues that other types of Anki cards may have with context-dependent memory. This is because there isn’t any part of the answer that is visible when you are providing it.
Other types of Anki cards such as cloze and image occlusion could be limited in this way. In a cloze card or an occlusion card, you have access to some parts of the answer already (the words around the […], the rest of the diagram etc.). These pieces of context could act as memory cues for the answer. This means that when you write your test you essentially have a memory penalty because you don’t have the same cues you did when practicing.
I have a whole article that goes more in-depth on the issues that could result from using image occlusion and cloze cards if you are curious.
There might also be some benefit to actually having to type out the answer instead of just thinking about it as well. There is research on note-taking that is helpful to understand this. Writing down the information is often better than not writing it at all for retention.1
Typed answer cards also slow you down when you are answering your Anki card. Sometimes we go through our Anki cards a little too fast to get them over with (which can result in less time actually retrieving the answer).
I believe that these benefits make this type of Anki card one of the best for increasing your retention.
Drawbacks of These cards
However, there are still a few issues with typed answer cards in Anki. No card is perfect.
First, one of the benefits of this card, its slower speed, is also one of the downsides. These can be slower to use than other card types. This is because you have to spend extra time typing the answers. If you have many of them, it can lower your time efficiency.
Second, you are limited to fairly simple responses/cards. If an answer is longer, typing it correctly is less likely and can take a long time per card.
Third, some answers are just hard to type. For instance, if you are trying to memorize a mathematical formula you probably will have a tough time inputting the answer through typing.
- Jansen, R. S., Lakens, D., & IJsselsteijn, W. A. (2017). An integrative review of the cognitive costs and benefits of note-taking. Educational Research Review, 22(November 2017), 223–233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2017.10.001
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