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Remnote Review: the best note-taking tool for students

Updated: May 23, 2021

If you're into productivity and getting things done, a note taking system is an essential part of your repertoire. Whether this is for daily journaling, making to do lists, or creating a personal knowledge management system, a good app/ site will make doing these things easier and more fun. There is just something about making notes that I love and being a student means I have to take notes on the regular. If you know anything about learning though, you should know that taking notes is not the best way to learn material. The best strategies are of course active recall, interleaving and spaced repetition. Now, what if there is a place where you can do all this. Well there is. Anki. However, the problem with Anki is that yes, it is awesome for spaced repetition and active recall but not so good for writing out your notes for active recall and the general note taking vibe. There is an alternative.

Why use Remnote?

You've probably heard of the standard note taking apps: Evernote, Notion, Roam, Obsidian etc. Compared to these, is very new. I first discovered Remnote from watching 'Mike and Matty' on youtube, the cofounders (or founders, I'm not too sure) of Anki and Remnote. I recommend that people watch them if you're into studying and/or medicine. Probably the best way to describe Remnote is that it combines parts Anki, Notion and Roam. If this means nothing to you, in summary, Anki is a flashcards site with built in spaced repetition. Notion is like a hierarchical note taking system with a bunch of amazing features. I'd recommend to everyone to check out Notion and to have your own Notion setup- it is probably the most valuable thing I've discovered over the past few years. (If you've read some of my previous posts, you might know that I still use Notion to study and this is because 1/ I discovered Remnote after using Notion for half my courses and so it's too much effort to transfer to Remnote and 2/ there are some features in Notion that Remnote doesn't have). And Roam is more of a personal knowledgement system where you can link ideas- it's known for being 'a second brain'.

Remnote's USP is that has features of a standard note taking site (very much like Notion bar a few features and unlike Anki) but that also turns your notes into flashcards (this is pretty novel) and automatically does spaced repetition and interleaving for you. Basically, you would study like you do in Anki but all you have to do is write notes as you would in Notion. What makes Remnote great for notetaking in general is the ability to link ideas like in Roam. I haven't actually used Roam (as it costs money- while you get a ton of features in Remnote for free) but the ability to link ideas is such a useful way to not only be your 'second brain' but to also study. When we learn new things, we associate the material with ideas already stored in our brain rather than using a hierarchical system like traditional note taking system which is why this is such a great feature.


As I said, it is very easy to convert you notes into flashcards with Remnote. All you do is type :: to separate something into 2 sides of a flashcards.

For example:

The first stage of respiration is :: glycolysis

Remnote will automatically generate a flashcard with 'The first stage of respiration is' on one side and 'glycolysis' on the other. It really is a more convenient way to make flashcards than Anki.

Remnote also allows you to do interleaving. On the Remnote side bar there is a tab called the 'Queue' which is your entire collection of flashcards and which topics come up are generated randomly (at least they seem random to me).

There's also spaced repetition built in. With every flashcard you can choose who difficult it was and Remnote will push the card back depending on the difficulty. For example if you found it easy, you Remnote might test you on it 4 days after. Or if you did not get a card, you may be tested on it in 5 minutes.

As I said, I think the ability to link ideas is one of the defining features of Remnote. Have you ever come across a term or concept that you used to understand but have forgetton? Or come across something in a new topic that relates to a previous topic? Lets say you create a link for 'respiration.' Remnote will create a page containing every time you have linked respiration. This is useful as you may have learnt about transport and be learning about the process of respiration, which does not explicitly mention transport. If you mentioned respiration in the 'transport' topic, Remnote will automatically link this with the 'respiration' topic. This is an excellent way to contextualise new ideas and therefore learn new content.

Why use something else?

Despite all of Remnote's amazing features, I still use Notion to study and write my notes. I do feel like Remnote is missing a few small features and Notion does do some things better. So the main reason I don't use Remnote is that you can't make an empty flashcard. Like you can't write question that has no answer. I usually want to do this firstly because I can't be bothered to write the answer and secondly because I generally know the answer but I still want to be tested on it.

In Remnote, if you have an empty flashcard it won't come up in the queue. I also like seeing all my notes and questions on one page at the same time so it allows me to skip questions I definitely know the answer to. In Remnote, the longest 'space' that the spaced repetition software does is only 4 days and sometimes I would prefer longer than that. And just generally, I prefer to customise how long my 'spaces' are.

Other problems include it being not that aesthetically pleasing (although not a problem for me) and there was a somewhat steep learning curve when I first started using it.

Nevertheless, I still use Remnote to make notes on books and also for my interviews. It is just a really good way to manage your knowledge and link ideas together.

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