Brainscape vs Anki – Which Is Better?

Brainscape and Anki are two of the highest-rated web-based and mobile adaptive flashcard programs.

These two flashcard platforms harness the power of spaced repetition to help people (students, educators, hobbyists, etc.) absorb new information over time.

The human brain is a super-efficient machine that learns best when presented with information in small chunks spaced out over time.

The brain has trouble remembering things it has just learned because the information is first processed into short-term memory before it moves to long-term memory. Therefore, repeated exposure to new facts or concepts is the best way to improve retention and recall.

These two platforms help learners break complex information into bite-sized pieces they can study in questions and answers, employing active recall and metacognition.

Since these two programs share the same premise, you may be wondering which one you should use.

In this article, I’ll explain the features, strengths, and weaknesses of Brainscape and Anki so you can make the best choice for you.

Brainscape vs Anki: Introduction

What is Brainscape?

Brainscape is a web-based mobile app that allows students and teachers to create, share, learn, and study flashcards collaboratively—taking advantage of the most comprehensive and scientifically-proven study system (spaced repetition).

Brainscape’s secret sauce is the way it breaks complex concepts into their atomic building blocks and delivers them in a platform customized for the user’s pace of learning.

According to Brainscape, this process is called confidence-based repetition. Brainscape optimizes users’ study time by focusing primarily on their low confidence areas without wasting time on the concepts they already know well.

This system of knowledge curation is designed to help you learn faster than traditional study methods.

What is Anki?

Anki means memorization in Japanese. It is free, open-source software that revolutionizes how people learn vocabulary, new languages, and new concepts using flashcards.

Anki’s claim to fame is its use of spaced repetition to help users memorize information. Anki’s algorithms and technologies have gained wide acceptance by academics, educators, psychologists, students, and (of course) language learners.

Anki offers a robust, cross-platform, browser-based flashcard program with many features to help you master new concepts.

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Brainscape vs Anki: Appearance and Navigation

Brainscape

As soon as you land on the homepage, you immediately appreciate the effort and detail the developers have put into designing an attractive and intuitive user interface. This first impression carries over to the rest of the interface as well. Even the typography looks great!

Once you log in, you will be directed to your dashboard. You can view all the information about the class you are currently participating in on the right side of your dashboard.

Brainscape uses classes to organize your flashcard decks and enable sharing and permissions.

It also means that you can only invite other users to a class and set their permissions to access the flashcards they contain. It is impossible to share a deck with someone outside of a class.

Right there on your dashboard is a sidebar to the left, where you can navigate to your classes, create new classes, find flashcards, view trending classes, and view your profile and settings. Also, on the bottom right, you’ll find a help button, a pop-up menu with additional information, and a contact button.

If you are using Brainscape for the first time, you get these pop-up menus from time to time describing functionalities in Brainscape and how to use it.

In general, Brainscape has a brilliant design – easy to navigate and very intuitive to use.

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Anki

Anki’s homepage looks pretty basic and dull. It is missing the sense of style and polish that Brainscape has. You have four buttons at the top right of the page that reads: Home, Docs, Support, and AnkiWeb.

The Home button takes you to the homepage of the website. Docs take you to a page where you can find different documents about getting started on Anki and several other things you may need, such as synching with AnkiWeb, importing and exporting, FAQs, resources, etc. Support also directs you to where you can get more tips for getting the best out of Anki or solving a problem.

AnkiWeb takes you to a page where you can log in or sign up to use the platform on your desktop. And the Download button is located just below the four buttons that lead you to select the OS you are using to download either the Mac or the Windows version of Anki.

You are greeted by a white background and three buttons at the center of the page after logging into AnkiWeb.

The Get Shared Deck button will take you to a collection shared by another user on AnkiWeb. My Shared Items and Create Deck are the other two. Other buttons are the Account, Logout, and Search buttons.

The Anki Android and iOS apps are also just as uninspiring in aesthetic design. However, you can switch between light and dark themes on the app.

The best reason I can think of for the Anki UI to be this uninspiring is that it is an open-source project, which means it is underfunded.

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Brainscape vs Anki: How They Work

Brainscape

Once you are ready to start studying in Brainscape, you will be guided through flashcards and asked to assess your confidence in each card, which powers the Confidence-Based Repetition system.

Using the Study button on any Deck will launch a study session on the website.

When you tap on a Deck in the mobile app, you have an option to start a study session by selecting the Study button.

Click the settings icon next to Study and select Random Mix to mix all decks in your class at once.

During the study process, you will be able to rate your confidence on the answer card so that you may reinforce your learning and master your weaknesses.

The next step is to track your progress and other statistics using the performance tab located on the sidebar.

You can also create and share flashcards.

Anki

To get started on Anki, you can download over 80 million pre-made flashcards from a selection. Then, the system tests your knowledge in quick sessions.

After each session, the Anki app displays your progress and other information you need to fill in to increase your learning power.

You can also create your own flashcards in Anki.

Brainscape vs Anki: Method of Spaced Repetition

Brainscape

Spaced repetition is an intelligent form of testing that adapts to how well you know the information being presented to you based on how you respond during the study session.

So if you’re struggling to learn a new concept, the algorithm will adapt by changing the order of cards in your deck so that you’re more likely to see cards that you’re struggling with first and then review them more often until they become second nature to you.

Eventually, you’ll only see the easier cards once you’re confident with them.

Brainscape uses a flexible learning system. Therefore, even if you rate a card as 4, which means almost perfect, the card could still show up that day if you continue studying.

Anki

Anki, on the other hand, uses a prescriptive spaced repetition algorithm. This algorithm works by allocating a set number of days to each repetition. Essentially, you schedule your study sessions and display the exact cards on planned days.

For instance, if you have mastered a card well, you can schedule it to show up in six days. Learners who want some control prefer this over a random or flexible approach like Brainscape’s.

But the problem with this system is that if you don’t remember to log in on the scheduled day, that repetition schedule is pointless.

Also Read: What Is Hybrid Learning? A Guide

Anki vs Brainscape: Flashcard Customization

Brainscape

Since Brainscape is not an open-source flashcard application, you are literally at the mercy of the developers who decide what features to include in the app. You’ll find only one open-canvas flashcard on this platform, which supports any media type.

But on the positive side, Brainscape’s formats for creating content are more flexible. There is much more variety and depth in Brainscape flashcards than just a plain text box of images or vocabulary words. There is no limit to the length and format of the questions and answers.

As a result, content that promotes a deeper understanding of the subject is created rather than isolated names, dates, and vocabulary.

Anki

Anki is an open-source flashcard platform, so users can add any feature they want, including changing the appearance of a flashcard or creating audio or video-based flashcards. Users can also add pictures and audio to answers. You can upload your images and audio files to the app.

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Brainscape vs Anki: Offline Accessibility

Brainscape

It is possible to access Brainscape offline. You must ensure that you have downloaded the flashcards you want to use offline. Then, you are good to go.

Anki

The same goes for Anki. You can download your flashcards into your device and study them offline.

So, whenever you are out of WiFi range, take your flashcards and study on the train, bus, etc.

Brainscape vs Anki: Collaboration

Brainscape

Collaboration is essential to creating digital flashcards, among other educational endeavors. In a partnership of this nature, the most immediate advantage is the reduced time spent making digital flash cards.

In addition, active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned educational experiences lead to deeper learning.

Brainscape lets trainers create custom “decks,” add images and sounds, and collaborate with numerous editors for real-time content deployment.

These editors can be students or even other teachers! The sharing of information helps learners become smarter and faster learners.

Anki

Anki’s collaboration capabilities are currently limited. However, several people can work together. Using an online document collaboration service like Google Drive may be easiest if you are creating cards without sounds or images.

This is a significant drawback to the app since some instructors want their students to collaborate and create “group” decks with the other students in the class.

Brainscape vs Anki: Synchronization

Brainscape

Brainscape lets you synchronize data across multiple devices using your account login information.

This way, you don’t have to carry all your devices around to study on the go! Just log in using your credentials on any device and access the same data! No extra software is required.

Your progress is automatically saved as you work. And you can sync with multiple devices at a time.

Anki

The same goes for Anki. AnkiWeb allows you to synchronize your collection on multiple devices and to study online.

Brainscape vs Anki: Media Integration

Brainscape

Brainscape allows you to create flashcards that include images and audio. But to upload unlimited photos and sounds to your flashcards, you must upgrade to the paid version.

You can add images to your flashcards by clicking the “+” next to the sounds or images icon on the Brainscape website. Afterward, you will be prompted to upload an image file.

Some file formats Brainscape supports include animation file formats like .swf, .gif, .flvand .mov. And audio files like ogg vorbis, .mp3 lossy, .aiff uncompressed, and .wav lossless.

Anki

Anki also supports multimedia integration. You can add images and audio to cards in the same way. And unlike Brainscape, it’s free! However, each media file can only be 100MB.

Media added through Anki’s interface is encoded to work across multiple devices. Characters that won’t work on some operating systems are removed, and long filenames are compressed.

The mobile clients and AnkiWeb support various file formats, but not all of them will work. The most universally supported audio and video formats appear to be MP3 and MP4. To play sounds and videos, Anki uses MPV (and Mplayer as a fallback).

Brainscape vs Anki: Add-ons

Brainscape

Brainscape is a proprietary software solution that doesn’t offer users add-ons.

Anki

One of the benefits of using an open-source program is the ability to download add-ons from the developer community! You will find many add-ons exclusively for AnkiWeb. There are currently no add-ons for Anki Mobile and Android.

Some add-ons you can consider are

  • Pop-Up Dictionary: It allows you to reference cards that may be relevant to a card you are studying currently. You can find the meaning of words and other flashcards with those words.
  • Enhance Main Window: This add-on does what it says. It enhances the main window of your card browser to give you more screen space and functionality!
  • Review Heatmap: This add-on lets you see which cards you need to review more often! You can filter the cards by the date created or the last reviewed date.
  • Anki Simulator: With this add-on, you can figure out how many new cards you should do every day when you have an exam. It tells you how many reviews you have to do daily on top of each new card you receive when you finish going through a deck in Anki Simulator. Specify the deck, the number of new cards you want to add each day, and the timeframe.
  • Clickable Tags: With large pre-made decks such as Zanki or Lightyear, Clickable Tags are convenient. A unique feature of the AnKing Overhaul deck is the use of tags, which facilitate the organization of various topics and study resources.
  • Custom Background Image and Gear Icon: Anki doesn’t have an appealing background by default, so with this add-on, you can change your deck’s theme to something more appealing!

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Brainscape vs Anki: Leaner’s Data

Brainscape

Each class dashboard will display an aggregated view of your users’ Brainscape learning progress as they study wherever they are.

Educators can see how many flashcards learners have studied and how much they have mastered according to their self-assessed results. You can conveniently analyze each student’s progress by clicking the Learners tab. You can also view every student’s proficiency level for each deck with a click.

This is such an impressive feature because teachers can see which students need extra help on a specific topic or who need to focus more on a particular part of the curriculum.

Anki

In Anki, users can view their progress, but instructors can’t do that.

Brainscape vs Anki: Credibility of Content

Brainscape

There are two sources of content in Brainscape: user-generated content and content by certified experts.

User-generated content is flashcards or classes you can create or those created by other Brainscape users.

Brainscape also collaborates with subject market experts to create decks and collections.

Brainscape has a Knowledge Genome of flashcards created by teachers, tutors, and subject matter experts.

In addition, all user-generated content on Brainscape is organized in the order of popularity, which includes quality, depth, relevance, and accuracy.

As a result, the flashcards you find in Brainscape are credible! You can learn from the best minds in any field you want! Plus, since other users rate each card based on the content’s usability, quality, and accuracy, you would only be studying useful and accurate flashcards!

Anki

However, Anki does not have certified content; it only has user-generated content, which is not rated according to quality or popularity, so you don’t know what you’ll get.

Brainscape vs Anki: Pricing

Brainscape

Brainscape has a free version that allows users to find and create flashcards, study flashcards, track their progress, sync with mobile devices, and share their flashcards.

Premium subscribers enjoy additional features, such as unlimited flashcards to study, upload media, copy other users’ flashcards, and make their classes private. Premium subscriptions are available for $9.99/month, $41.94 every six months, $59.88/year, or a lifetime deal at $129.99.

Anki

Anki, on the other hand, is a free flashcard application. So, you don’t have to pay anything to create and study flashcards. But strangely, you need to pay $24.99 to download Anki on any iOS gadget, including iPhone and iPad.

When it comes to the cost of using a flashcard program, it is a no-brainer that Anki takes the gold! Students and hobbyists, or anyone who is not looking to commit that much to a flashcard program, are better off with Anki.

Check their pricing page for latest. Prices are subject to change from time to time.

Brainscape vs Anki: Opportunity for Partnerships

Brainscape

With Brainscape’s collaborative tools, school licenses, reseller partnerships, and enterprise licenses are all accessible in a way that is not possible with Anki.

Therefore, if you’re a “successful influencer” in your industry, you can become a reseller of Brainscape flashcards, create certified content with Brainscape, or sell your private content for a residual income.

Anki

Anki doesn’t support business opportunities like this, so it’s mainly suitable for individuals or hobbyists looking to create their own flashcards.

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Brainscape vs Anki: Customer Support & Help

Brainscape

You can contact the Brainscape customer support team by sending an in-app email.

In addition, Brainscape has a knowledge base containing various articles regarding product features, system updates, and frequently asked questions. In short, users can access customer support and tutorials anytime they need them.

Anki

Anki has no customer support or tutorials available.

However, it has FAQs and docs pages that users can visit if they have questions.

Brainscape vs Anki: Pros & Cons

Brainscape

Pros

  • There are a lot of classes
  • A confidence-based 5-choice system, which simplifies the learning
  • User-friendly interface
  • You can study multiple decks at once

Cons

  • It is pricey
  • Unable to customize flashcards
  • Images can get truncated on the app

Anki

Pros

  • Spaced repetition system, which helps you avoid getting it easy too soon
  • Free application
  • Opportunity for third-party add-ons for a richer experience

Cons

  • Dull user interface
  • Unverified user-generated flashcards
  • No customer support

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Similarities & Differences

BrainscapeAnki
Spaced Repetition
Flashcard CustomizationX
Offline Accessibility
CollaborationX
Synchronization
Media Integration
Third-party Add-onsX
Learner’s DataX
Certified ContentX
Opportunities for PartnershipX
Customer Support and HelpX
Free✓ (But you need a paid version to harness its powers fully)

Conclusion

Brainscape undoubtedly wins the Brainscape vs Anki battle of flashcards, in my opinion. It offers more than Anki when comparing the two flashcard app functions head-to-head.

Brainscape has an attractive user interface that is easy to navigate. The flashcards are well organized and have been certified to ensure the highest quality of learning material available.

In addition, Brainscape’s collaboration function is a massive benefit to educators or any organization looking to implement flashcard learning into their curriculum. Plus, the opportunities for creators to earn is enormous with Brainscape’s reseller and content creation programs.

For these reasons, I prefer Brainscape to Anki for flashcards.

However, if you are looking for a free flashcard app, Anki is a good choice.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.