What do the answer options on the flashcards do?
When reviewing flashcards, you'll be presented with these three options.
"Answering" the flashcard requires you to select one of these, but which answer do you choose and what do they each do?
Well for starters, we suggest that you use these options in this way:
Depending on the type of card it is, if you know the meaning (kanji), meaning and reading (vocab) or the grammar structure used in the card, answer with 🙂. If you sort of guess at the meaning (kanji), know the meaning OR the reading (vocab) or can somewhat guess the grammar structure, answer with 😐. If you have no idea what's going on with the card and just want to yell for help, then that would be 😭.
When in doubt, we would recommend that you use 🙂 more often than you think you should... and then use it even more often than that!
The default (space bar) is set to the 🙂. This will toss the flashcard back into your queue to be seen at a later date. Most of your answers should end up being here. More on this later.
Using 😐 will also send the flashcard into your queue for a later date, but will do so at a smaller interval than had you pressed 🙂. For the cards that you're a bit unsure of or would just like to see more often, you can use this answer.
Pressing the 😭 face will reset the card entirely, as if it's the first time you've seen it. We typically don't recommend using this unless you've totally forgotten it and don't have the slightest clue or idea about the card. For the first few times you see a card, we would recommend not using this, and just select one of the other two. Once you've reset the card, you will only be presented with two answers, 😐 or 🙂. This prevents an infinite loop of 😭 faces since that's helpful to no one! Close together repetition of the same material over and over again is more apt to overload your brain and result in not remembering any of it in the long run.
As a recommendation, you should be able to recall about 70-90% of your reviews quite quickly (within a few seconds) without having to put too much effort into them. If it's taking, for example, more than half an hour to get through 50 flashcards, and you find you're struggling or having a hard time recalling everything you're seeing, then this is probably a sign that you should slow down, reduce your review threshold, and focus on learning the material you've already been presented rather than moving forward with new material.
Remember however, the flashcard system is meant to be a tool that gives you additional exposure to the material over time. Don't get too hung up on them; over reliance on flashcards and feeling that you must absolutely know all of them is a problem you want to avoid. This is especially so when it comes to kanji in isolation as being able to recognize them on their own isn't necessary in daily, functional understanding or ability in Japanese. If you start feeling like flashcards are holding you back or causing you grief, just hit the happy face or archive them and move on. Your actual learning progress will thank you for it 🙂