When to hit 'easy' and optimal settings

There’s a lot of information to take in with regards to settings and what people find works best for them. I’m still a bit confused though as to how I should approach my current decks.

One deck (general knowledge) is a shared deck someone else created. I haven’t started using it yet but browsed through it briefly and some questions I immediately know the answer to, others I’ve no idea.

So my first question is, how often should I typically use the ‘easy’ button? If it helps, I’ve included a screenshot of my geography deck stats after just completing it (I studied this deck a while back and was able to recall a lot of it). This deck was studied with the default Anki settings. You can see that I have a tendancy to hit the ‘easy’ button. Basically, if I know the answer instantly I will always hit ‘easy’. If it takes me no longer than 5 seconds to recall, I will hit ‘good’. 5 - 15 seconds, ‘hard’. And anything after I will hit ‘again’.


I’m about to start this general knowledge deck and have come up with the below settings. Does anyone see any issues with them? Bear in mind, I plan to use the same logic in terms of good, easy etc unless I’ve missed something with how these buttons should be used. I’ve come across some posts saying that they only use ‘again’ and ‘good’. And other posts saying that ‘easy’ should only be used rarely.


For example, one of the questions is ‘What is a Yashmak?’ I don’t know the answer, so I hit ‘again’. Comes up a few minutes later, I know the answer. I hit ‘good’. So I see the card the next day. And let’s say I recall the answer immediately. Why wouldn’t I hit ‘easy’ in this instance?

Thanks in advance.

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TL;DR: Your settings are close to default with some good additions (extra learning step, lapse steps). So if the previous settings worked well, there’s a good chance it will work well for the next deck too, as long as the difficulty levels of those decks are somewhat similar.

On the Easy button

When people warn you about pressing Easy too often, they usually do it because they have gone through Ease Hell:

Edit: In my subjective experience at least.

What does pressing Easy do? It matures the card, increases the ease factor and puts it out of the safe learning phase (steps) into the set Easy interval.

By pressing Easy too early in the learning phase, you could put your card in danger of lowering its ease if you don’t remember it the next few times.

Edit: The Hard button decreases the ease factor only if a card is matured. So maturing a card too early can lead to unwanted ease drops.

The danger of Ease Hell

An accumulation of lots of cards with very low ease levels will result in an unneccesarily high review load that is hard to fix without resetting ease alltogether.
Seeing a card too often can actually have a negative impact on your learning progress and you would be missing the advantage of spaced repetition (seeing a card just when you’re about to forget it, seems to be ideal for good progress).

A good strategy to prevent Ease Hell

An answer to Ease Hell: longer learning phase (more steps)

A good strategy to prevent Ease Hell from happening is to elongate your learning phase and avoid pressing Easy as much as possible.

So instead of 1 10 60, which is a very short learning phase, you could go for something like 10* 120 1440 5760 8640.

* I recommend a first step of at least 10 minutes, because the more cognitive work you put in when learning, the stronger the connections will be.

This way, you have plenty of time to fail the cards without dropping their ease. It will feel like learning on rails as long as the cards are in the learning phase. If you get irritated by weird intervals easily, you might find this relieving.
If you opt for that strategy, you should lower the starting ease a bit though.

My recommendation for you:

If your settings worked for you previously, I would not force any radical changes. You don’t have to turn every knob, the default settings are good enough too (made my medical entrance exam with close-to-default settings).

Try it with your current settings and see how it goes.


Thanks kleinerpirat. I actually watched that video soon after I submitted my post.

That video has a graduating interval of 15 days (which makes sense when you consider the number of learning steps involved: 15 1440 8640). And it has an easy interval of 60 days. So let’s say I get a new card correct after 15 mins and see it again the next day. And I get it correct and hit good. I see it in 6 days time and I hit good again.

The next time I come across this card will be in 15 days. If I hit good then it will show up in 37.5 days time (I think I’ve got this right) and easy will be 60 days.

I think considering those settings I would be reluctant to hit easy purely based on seeing 60 days as the next time I’d see it.

This is why I set my Easy interval to 14 days. That way I only press it if I really know that information (even then, I’m reluctant). In such a case, deleting/suspending the note can be the best thing to do because you get more time for things you haven’t learned yet.

If you’re interested in going for a longer learning phase, I highly recommend you switch to the 2.1 scheduler via Anki’s preferences menu. This adds a 4th button (Hard) to learning cards. It does the following:

This allows for a more fine-tuned learning phase without compromising its safety.

Beware: Switching the scheduler will reset all your learning cards (the red ones). Other cards won’t be affected.
Since you’re currently moving from one deck to the next, this might be the ideal moment to switch to the new scheduler.


Good to know, thanks. I’ve no cards currently in learning so I’ll tick the box now for the scheduler.

So if your easy interval is 14 days, what’s your graduating interval set at?

Again, even though I’m reluctant, part of me is saying well if it really is easy, then trust the system. I should get 80-90% of these cards correct once I see them again in 60 days. And then at 60 days, that becomes x number of days.

I’m starting to lean towards what was basically set out in the video, i.e. a graduating interval of 15 days and easy interval of 60 days.

60 days is pretty high.
I would not go that far…

10 days.

Like I said above, you don’t have to go crazy on the settings at the start. Default or close-to-default is tried and tested.

One can do more harm than good with the settings too.


That’s actually the exact opposite. Ease Hell is when you keep seeing cards over and over again despite recalling them every time because their ease has dropped so low that the inverval barely increases. This can happen if you make extensive use of the Hard button or your cards are too difficult and you don’t handle leeches appropriately.

Pressing Easy (for review cards) increases the ease, so not only will the next interval be larger, but intervals will grow at a faster rate.

And that’s why you should be really careful with the Hard and Easy buttons: It may feel like you rate how easy it was to recall the information just now, but what you actually do is rate the overall difficulty of the card. Often a card was easy to recall because you happened to encounter the information somewhere else recently. But that’s a bad reason to increase all future intervals of that card because it doesn’t say anything about how difficult it will be to retrieve the information the next time.


My point was that in order for the Hard button to lower the ease, the card must be matured. And that can happen when you press Easy too early.

But you’re right. This won’t be the main cause for ease hell, since these cards should usually be easy to remember :wink:

All I can say from personal experience is, that a longer learning phase can help prevent huge variations in ease.

Like @Rumo said, the Hard button (which I totally forgot to explain in my answer above) is the main culprit here, along with big differences in card difficulty.


Thanks both, much appreciated. One other thing that I’ve just noticed. I started a new deck with the above settings. I didn’t want to go heavy on the easy button but there were three cards that were incredibly easy and common knowledge to me, so I hit easy (14 days).

So I’ve gone back into the deck and had a look at the due dates. For the first one I answered, it says March 28th. The second one, March 29th. The third one, March 30th. These are not related cards so I’m confused as to why they’re not all showing as March 28th?

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@kleinerpirat, I don’t use many learning steps, so I guess we have different scenarios in mind. You focused your answer on learning and I on review cards. :+1:


Anki additionally adds a small amount of random variation to the next due times, in order to prevent cards that were introduced together and always rated the same from always staying next to each other. This variation is not shown on the time estimates but will be applied after selecting the button.


Suspending/deleting might also be an option in this case.

Thanks @Rumo. So does Anki just apply this to easy cards (I ask as all the good answers have the same due date)?

And I could suspend/delete but I’ll see how many there are after a few rounds. It’s a shared deck I’m using so not sure what to expect.

The fuzz (interval randomness) is only applied to review cards with intervals exceeding a certain number of days. Since it’s also relative to the interval, you will spot it more easily for cards with long intervals.


Got it, thanks!

Beware: Switching the scheduler will reset all your learning cards (the red ones). Other cards won’t be affected.

That is no longer the case when upgrading in the latest version: The Anki 2.1 scheduler - Frequently Asked Questions