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RemNote vs. Anki, SuperMemo, and Other Spaced-Repetition Tools
RemNote vs. Anki, SuperMemo, and Other Spaced-Repetition Tools

How does RemNote compare to other spaced-repetition learning tools?

Soren Bjornstad avatar
Written by Soren Bjornstad
Updated over a week ago

RemNote was built by Anki users who felt constrained by Anki's question-answer format. Instead of cramming all knowledge into question-answer blocks, RemNote helps you represent knowledge in the same way it's structured in your brain.

In RemNote, you can use the Concept-Descriptor Framework to organize knowledge in a logical format.

Imagine that you're taking Physics 101 and you're trying to learn the components of an atom. In Anki, you might create cards like:

  • What is the subatomic particle with a negative charge? → Electron

  • What are the three subatomic particles that make up an atom? → Electron, Proton, Neutron

  • What is an Elementary particle? → These particles are the basic units of subatomic particles.

This knowledge isn't structured, and it's hard to find individual questions or understand the relations between things. We can do better. In RemNote, knowledge and ideas can be represented as Concepts (bold text) with Descriptors (italic text). This way, you can see the relationships between concepts in a hierarchy, display the same concepts in multiple places, and more.

To learn more about using the Concept-Descriptor Framework, see Structuring Knowledge in RemNote.

In RemNote, you can make connections between ideas.

All of your RemNote knowledge consists of Rem that go into a single Knowledge Base, so there aren't boundaries between different types of knowledge. As a result, you can make connections between any ideas you want.

For example, let's say you're trying to remember the symptoms of a disease. In Anki, you might create cards like this:

What are the symptoms for shingles? → A painful rash on one side of the face/body. Consists of blisters that scab over in about a week then clean up in about a month.

In RemNote, you can make Rem References to each of the symptoms. Then, you'll later be able to find answers to questions like, “What are all of the diseases that I know that have this symptom?” Additionally, you can chain and link knowledge. For example, you can make sure Shingles is connected to Chickenpox (as it mentally needs to be if you want to understand Shingles). In RemNote, all of your knowledge is interlinked in a single Knowledge Base like it is in your brain.

In RemNote, your knowledge is structured hierarchically.

One way to understand a system is to break it down into components, then break those components into more components. RemNote helps you do this by allowing you to nest concepts to arbitrary depths. You can see this hierarchy in any of the examples above.

In Anki, decks can be arranged hierarchically into a tree. This is similar to how the hierarchy works in RemNote, but with an important difference – there are no decks in RemNote, and the hierarchy is just made out of the Rem themselves. Hierarchy is used to build models of what you're learning about, not just as a tool for organizing cards.

In RemNote, you can take unstructured notes and then clean them up later.

RemNote is both a note-taking tool and a Spaced Repetition tool. If you wanted, you could use it as a pure note-taking tool or you could use it as a pure spaced-repetition tool. However, we believe that RemNote becomes uniquely powerful when you use it for both purposes.

This combination of note-taking and spaced-repetition features enables workflows where you incrementally convert ideas to more memorable and precise formats. For example, if you're sitting in a lecture or brainstorming and don't immediately understand the ideas deeply enough to properly organize them, you can take rough notes in outline form. Later, you can go back and transform the notes into structured knowledge that you can memorize as flashcards, right in the same document.

In RemNote, you can organize ideas by what type of thing they are.

In Anki, your knowledge is just a giant list of cards. Anki offers tags and decks to impose some order on them, but it doesn't understand the structure of the information you're learning, so it can't help you organize or optimize your learning strategy.

RemNote is designed to help you structure your knowledge in a way that's meaningful to you. One way it does this is by encouraging you to label each Concept by what type of thing it is. For example, if you're learning about Shingles, it's useful to have Shingles explicitly labeled as a Disease. In RemNote, you can easily make this connection by tagging the Rem with Disease or ending the Rem's name with a reference to Disease.

Relationships in RemNote are bidirectional, so when you tag or link to Disease, you'll also be able to find references to Shingles (and any other diseases you tag or link) when you're looking at the Disease Rem.

In RemNote, you can easily adjust your study schedule for upcoming exams.

In Anki and SuperMemo, scheduling is aimed at long-term retention. While this is a good primary goal, most students also have exams in the short term, and the schedule that works best for long-term retention often isn't ideal for exams, forcing Anki users to use inefficient, manual workarounds to be maximally prepared for exams.

In RemNote, these scheduling adjustments are built in with the exam scheduler – just tell RemNote when your exam is, pick a study plan, practice your cards daily just like always, and walk into your exam knowing memory won't be a problem.

And of course, RemNote comes with everything else you'd expect:

  • Automatic, customizable spaced repetition scheduling

  • Rich statistics

  • Complete ownership of your data

  • Offline mode

And much more!

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