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Anki Vs Quizlet: Which Flashcard Program is Best For Learning?

  • Sean 

I have used both Anki and Quizlet for a number of years and they are both great programs but the one you choose to use is going to depend on your use case. This article is all about Anki Vs Quizlet and which program is best for you.

This article will give you both a quick and in-depth overview of how to choose between either Anki or Quizlet no matter what you are trying to memorize.

In the end, it’s going to come down to how much time you are willing to invest in learning your flashcard program.

Anki is more complex and comes with a higher learning curve. However, it also uses research-backed principles like spaced repetition and is highly customizable with its many add-ons. Together, these can give you a better learning experience. Alternatively, Quizlet is much simpler and more user-friendly and doesn’t have nearly the learning curve Anki does but it also doesn’t come with these perks.

Before we go in more depth on which program is the best and the differences that separate Anki and Quizlet, you might be wondering, which is more popular?

Anki Vs Quizlet: What Do Most Students Use?

I surveyed the folks over at r/Getstudying to find what the overall preference was for Anki or Quizlet from the student community.

This is what I found.

A bar graph showing the results of a survey on flashcard program preference with 44 votes for Anki and 53 votes for Quizlet

Based on this quick data looks like this the preference is almost split with 45% of students preferring Anki and 55% preferring Quizlet.

So it appears that this is a fairly split decision for a lot of students. Hopefully, my analysis of these programs will help you come to a decision.

For now, I’ll just give a quick visual overview of the most important differences between these flashcard programs as well as their pros and cons. This should help you quickly compare these programs.

Anki Vs Quizlet: Quick Overview of The Features

Here’s a quick overview of the differences in terms of features put into a table.

FeatureAnki Quizlet
Spaced repetition
Unrestricted Free version
Uses gamification?
Free offline use
Create your own decks
Use premade decks?
This table summarizes the key differences in features between Anki and Quizlet.

Those are the basic features that you might want to know about when comparing these programs. It’s also worth noting that you can actually import your Quizlet cards into Anki. So if you are really stuck you can always start with Quizlet and then move to Anki later.

However, for now, I’ll elaborate on what program you should choose by giving the pros and cons that I have with these flashcard tools after using both of them for a number of years.

Anki Vs Quizlet: The Pros and Cons

Anki Pros 👍

  • Uses spaced repetition with its own formula
  • Highly customizable with active community
  • Completely free on most platforms (except ios)
  • Lost of premade decks available
  • You can import Quizlet cards into Anki with Audio

Anki Cons 👎

  • Installing premade decks isn’t as easy
  • Has a learning curve
  • Needs add-ons to get the most out of the program
  • The user interface can be clunky
  • Costs $24.99 on the Apple app store
  • Syncing between computer and mobile isn’t automatic and can sometimes have issues

Quizlet Pros 👍

  • Pleasing user interface and experience
  • Easy to learn
  • Many more ways to test information
  • Gamification of testing
  • Built-in library of premade decks

Quizlet Cons 👎

  • Features are hidden behind a paywall
  • Lack of spaced repetition
  • Can’t customize the experience

That’s how Anki and Quizlet compare their features as well as a broad overview of their pros and cons. But there is a lot of difference left besides the features of these apps that need in-depth discussion.

Let’s get into what really separates these programs.

Anki Vs Quizlet: The Main Differences Between The Programs

A bullet point outline comparing four main differences between Anki and Quizlet flashcard programs: core differences, user interfaces, customization options, and premium versions.
An outline of the main differences between Anki and Quizlet

The main differences between Anki and Quizlet include how these apps approach memorization, their user interfaces, and how they test you.

Different memorization approaches

Anki uses spaced repetition

Anki’s core memorization method is simple. Its sole focus is really on flashcards, you can’t do anything else with Anki apart from some kind of flashcard. But the way it uses flashcards is special.

Anki uses something called spaced repetition, which has significant research supporting this as a way to improve memory.1 In spaced repetition, your learning is spaced out over intervals. As your learning increases these intervals get longer.

When you are presented with a card, you will be given 4 options. This determines how much time before you see the card again (the lengths on these buttons increase as you complete more cards).

The 4 buttons in Anki that are displayed after completing a card

When you complete a flashcard, it will base how quickly you see it next on how difficult that card was. Difficult cards get repeated more than easy cards.

This makes going through cards much more efficient since you won’t spend as much time on cards that you don’t already know. It also nicely spaces out each card to take advantage of the learning benefit that comes along with that.

Quizlet doesn’t have a feature like this and it is arguably the most significant difference between the two programs in terms of learning. It’s also why I’m an Anki user.

Quizlet uses multiple ways to help you learn

Quizlet isn’t just a flashcard app. It has many different ways of testing you. These include customized learning depending on your level of knowledge, practice tests, and a matching game based on your flashcards.

The four different learning modes in Quizlet
Different Quizlet learning options

If you want to read more in-depth about each of these modes individually, check out Quizlets page on study modes.

As you can see Quizlet even allows you to personalize the goal for a given set when in its learning mode.

The ability to customize learning in the flashcard program Quizlet. Including quick study, memorize it all, and learn and apply.

This is definitely an interesting concept but I’m left skeptical about Quizlets alternative modes of memorization.

In my view, there isn’t much difference between matching terms to definitions in a game or a test and a simple flashcard. These are all just basic retrieval practices that are all essentially the same.

Also, the alternative learning methods to flashcards that I would choose would not really need a specific program like Quizlet. Most high-quality alternative learning strategies are free and don’t require any software.

Sidenote: If you want a complete list of alternative learning strategies I would prefer over what Quizlet offers, check out my article on 9 proven active recall techniques to ace your exam.

To me, this makes Quizlet a bit of a jack of all trades but a master of none. Its core memorization strategy is less emphasized on flashcards compared to Anki, but flashcards are really the only way I would use Quizlet.

Different user interfaces

Anki’s user interface

Anki's user interface
Anki’s user interface

For many people, Ankis’ user interface can leave a lot to be desired. It looks old and less intuitive if you are a beginner.

However, not all hope is lost. Anki has a number of add-ons that can improve its user interface. For instance, Beautify Anki significantly overhauls Anki’s user experience.

You can also improve Anki’s user experience by turning on night mode and I have an entire article on how to change your Anki background with 20 included aesthetic backgrounds to try.

With all that being said, Anki still does not have a great user experience out of the box and it takes a bit of setup to improve it compared to Quizlet.

Quizlet’s user interface

Quizlet's user interface

Quizlet has a much more modern and clean user interface right out of the box. I have found that using Quizlet is a pleasing and fairly intuitive experience, especially compared to Anki.

It also has a night mode and only relies on a few colors for its minimalist user interface. This minimalist approach does help with filtering out distractions. There are just fewer buttons compared to Anki that draw your attention.

Different Amounts of Customization

Anki is highly customizable

This is a fairly significant difference between the programs. Anki has hundreds of add-ons that you can install that personalize and improve the experience.

Let me show you an example.

For instance one of the most popular Anki Addons, and one of my favorites, is Image occlusion enhanced.

A demonstration of how to use image occlusion flashcard inside the flashcard program Anki
Using the Image Occlusion add-on for Anki

This is a useful addition because you can avoid so much writing by just using visuals directly for memorization.

However, filtering down these add-ons into the ones you actually use, like the example above, can be challenging because of just how many Anki add-ons there are.

That’s why I wrote another article where I list the 10 best Anki add-ons to supercharge your learning. This is a good basic overview of the most popular and, in my opinion, best add-ons to get started with.

Quizlet isn’t customizable at all

There isn’t much to say here. Quizlet just doesn’t have much in the way of customizability as Anki does. You can turn on night mode and customize your profile, but that’s really about it.

Anki and Quizlet’s Premium Versions: which should you choose?

So, let’s say that you are willing to pay for the premium versions of either Anki or Quizlet. Which option is best?

One time paymentMonthly/Yearly subscription
Completely free on most platforms (Except ios)Cost the same everywhere
This table briefly compares the differences between the pricing of Quizlet and Anki premium versions

I think Anki clearly wins this battle. Let’s just say that you are going to buy the ios version for $25. Long-term you will spend less on Anki compared to Quizlet no matter which option you choose.

However, It’s worth noting that I am an Anki user and prefer it over Quizlet. If you like Quizlet more this price difference might be worth it for you.

But in the end, which option should you choose?

Which Program Should You Choose?

When it comes down to it there are a few key differences between these apps. Quizlet is a solid option out of the box that just works.

However, Anki is a highly customizable and more advanced flashcard program with more of a learning curve that takes a bit more setup.

There are benefits that come with Anki’s level of customizability that I think is well worth the effort. These include spaced repetition and the custom card types like image occlusion cards that come with Anki’s library of add-ons.

However, it might also be the case that neither of these programs is right for you. In that case, I’ll give an overview of some basic alternatives that might fit your needs.

An Alternative option to Both Anki and Quizlet?

What if you don’t like either Anki or Quizlet? Is there anything else you can use?

The answer here is of course yes.

Brainscape is a very intriguing alternative to both Anki and Quizlet. This is because it seems to have a beautiful user interface and also implements spaced repetition into its algorithm.

Lastly, you can always try going back to basic paper flashcards. There is some unique learning benefit to these that none of these programs can recreate. For instance, you can draw and create highly memorable images on these cards. There is significant research support for drawing as a way to enhance memory.

I have an article that compares digital and paper flashcards if you want a more in-depth look at this.


  1. Rohrer, D., & Taylor, K. (2007). The shuffling of mathematics problems improves learning. Instructional Science, 35(6), 481–498.
  2. Wammes, J. D., Meade, M. E., & Fernandes, M. A. (2016). The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2006), 69(9), 1752–1776.