Learn Academic Vocabulary for IELTS Quickly with Anki Flashcards

What is Anki? Anki is an enhanced digital flashcards program or app for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS. Anki is based on so-called ‘spaced repetition’ which is an ingenious method of employing an algorithm to move new words from short-time to long-time memory.

How does Anki work? Imagine that you have a database of IELTS or academic words. Let’s say 2,000 words you need to learn as quickly as possible. You import the list of the words to Anki. The words are presented in the form of flashcards with a question on one side and the answer on the other. Each time Anki shows you a new word, you have to rate its difficulty. Words which are easy won’t be shown to you frequently, however, challenging words will be.
Where to find word lists for Anki? Such list are called ‘Anki decks’ and can be found here.
Is Anki really effective? I’ve been using Anki for many years to improve my vocabulary in foreign languages and I can vouch for its effectiveness. Anki is also commonly used by many serious language learners. It has been overwhelmingly praised by the polyglot community online. Its popularity seems to be growing among students learning English as a second language. There is also a strong scientific evidence behind its main principle, namely, spaced repetition.

  • Free (except for iOS version)
  • Reliable
  • Effective
  • Free language databases available
    e.g. (Advanced English, IELTS, academic vocabulary)
  • Good for remembering facts for exams and tests
  • An established software


  • Requires strong motivation and discipline
  • A learning curve involved to use Anki effectively
  • Learning words without context might not be the best idea, quality of ‘decks’ matter
  • Some students  find it boring and repetitive

To sum up, if you want to improve your English vocabulary for IELTS or academic langauge, Anki makes remembering things easy.