more simple math

As I approach the end of the 2042 kanji contained in the first volume of Remembering the Kanji, I’m finding (unsurprisingly) that with more cards to deal with my failure rate on reviews is increasing.  At first, it was unusual to have more than a 10% failure rate, and most of the time it would be around 5%.  Now, I’m not surprised to see over 20%, and probably average 15% or so.

I was thinking of attempting to reduce this rate by adding only very few new cards per day for a while.  Usually if I only add a half dozen or ten cards, I easily remember them all the next day, and longer term retention on such cards also seems to be a little higher although I have no hard data to support that.  So the thinking went that I could remember the kanji better if I take a slower pace, and I do believe that I would.  Given a week or two of this, easy cards would move further down the boxes, harder cards would see more reviews and then in their turn become easier, and the daily number of reviews would go down while the failure rate would also go down.

The other option is to keep adding as many new cards as I can find time for every day.  This is usually around 30, sometimes 40.  That way I would be finished adding cards in about two weeks from now, but my failure rate would continue to climb.  I might even occasionally damage my delicate OCD psyche by adding new cards with restudy cards still existing (horrors!).

Deciding which route to take, though, is quite simple.  First the goal must be clarified, and then a little elementary mathematics must be applied.

The goal is simple enough; finish RTK1 and begin reading and SRSing sentences.

The math is just as simple.  100% sounds better than 80%, and to a perfectionist indeed it sounds much much better.  However, 100% of 10/day is 10; whereas 80% of 30 is 24.  Therefore tolerating errors allows over double the rate of progress as not tolerating them.

Full speed ahead it is then.


3 responses to “more simple math

  1. You are right about going slow, and also right about going faster. I’ve been doing 10 new cards a day since Nov 09, and after a while my reviews per day were no more than 35, and I usually got 90% of those cards correct. Every now and then i’d miss an old card after a while, the card I missed the most is “hop” I forgot it 11 times, but it is in box 7 (the six reviews box). Lately I’ve been doing about 20 a day, my reviews jump up to 65 on some days, and I get 75-85% of them right. But hey 75% of 20 is 15, so it’s still more than 90% of 10 which is 9. What I suggest is after you’re finished with book 1 do your reviews still like normal but only look at 10 “failed/restudy” cards a day. Well if you’re retention is what you say you wouldn’t even have that many to look at. I’m already reading a lot, it helps seeing the Kanji in context, except the rare ones that you almost never see, which are the ones I forget most. Like “wisteria” or “camphor tree” and at least a dozen more.

    Anyways 頑張って! I know you’re almost finished.

    • I wish I had your patience 🙂 Yes, almost finished, perhaps – but I tend to keep looking at it more as “almost started” – which is what gets me a little frustrated and wanting to rush to the end!