How To Use Anki In Medical School
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How To Use Anki in Medical School

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You’ve likely heard of Anki in medical school. Regardless if you use flashcards or not, Anki in medical school is everywhere. There are so many ways to use it.

In this post, I will show you my favorite ways to use Anki in medical school!

But first, if you want my step-by-step way of using Anki to study less in med school, get the free guide here!

How to Study in Medical School - Step-By-Step Guide

What is Anki and How Do I Use It For Med School?

So what is Anki?

If you’re a med student and have gone this far without hearing about it, I’m not sure if I should be impressed or worried.

If you’re a pre-med, then you get a pass for not knowing.

Anki is the king of flashcard tools. You think of Quizlet when you first think of flashcards, but Anki blows Quizlet out of the water!


Because you have spaced repetition built into the software (which is free by the way!).

Instead of studying all the flashcards for the same amount of time, why not dedicate more time to the cards we struggle with more?

That’s exactly what Anki does. It uses the concept of spaced repetition.

Anki is highly customizable and allows you to control what information you see in a minute, a day, a week or a month.

It is by far my favorite tool for med school.

I can combine numerous lectures and thousands of facts, and still not be stressed because Anki helps me with my weak points.

Here’s a link to download Anki for free.

Study 3.5 Hours a Day With Anki In Medical School:

What I’m going to show you is my favorite and complete method of using Anki.

If you prefer a video format, check out my YouTube video below!

I have created a system from start to finish on how to study for med school. Not only does it helps me retain the information, but I spend so little time doing it.

Here’s a quick breakdown. For more information check out the video above or my how to study less than 5 hours a day post.

You first gather your preferred digital sources. I enjoy using the powerpoint slides.

Then go through the slides and make one flashcard for each big idea. Then add in the 2-3 slides which talk about that idea.

For example. if your lecture is about hypertension, then you may create a flashcard with the question, “What are the complications of hypertension?”.

The slides from the lecture may have 2-3 slides which answer this. Using a screenshot tool, copy them over to your answer section.

Now you have a big idea, with the exact material from lecture which answers it.

No time wasted on retyping material or not adding enough information.

Everything you need is in your Anki deck.

If you want a more detailed step-by-step explanation of this method, get my free guide where I’ll walk you through my method of using Anki in med school. Get it here. 

How to Study in Medical School - Step-By-Step Guide

Reviewing for Test & Quizzes Using

Anki in Med School:

Now you have your flashcards (ideally 15-20 per lecture), you’re ready to review.

During the review focus on big topics and narrow in as you learn more.

Going back to our example about hypertension, you may first learn what organs hypertension effects.

Once you grasp that, then move onto how each organ is affected.

Use this knowledge to get even deeper and understand the exact diseases (i.e. arteriosclerosis).

Keep building on your information. But be okay with not knowing everything on the flashcard the first time you see it.

As you may notice from my video, I try to grasp as much info in a 5-10 second spurt. I’ll use the ‘again’ function on Anki to show me the material again in a minute.

Once a minute passes, Anki will reshow me the flashcard, and I can attempt to test myself. Then I can focus on learning more info from each flashcard.

Thus in one session, you may see a flashcard 5-10 times! That’s spaced repetition in one sitting!

If you’re interested in the detailed approach on how to study less than 5 hours check out this free guide where I’ll break down (with pictures) how I study in med school.

Use Anki In Medical School For the Tough Classes:

So how do you study for strange classes such as Anatomy using Anki? What about pharmacology using Anki?

Some great additional features from Anki include the image occlusion.

Image occlusion is a tool which allows you to cover up labels on an image or different parts of a list. Then you will get one flashcard asking you to answer each label at a time.

This works great for courses such as Anatomy. You can find an image from Netters or your class syllabus and the image occlusion element in. Then learn each muscle, nerve, artery, etc. one by one!

Here’s a guide on how to add Image Occlusion to Anki for free.

Study for Step 1 using Anki In Medical School:

Using Anki For Step 1 Before

Dedicated Studying:

The utility for Anki goes beyond just studying for classes.

There are two effective ways to use it to study for Step 1.

If you’re a preclinical student and have more than a few months before your test, begin the Broencephalon Anki deck.

Broencephalon is a collection of 16,000 Anki flashcards which gather material from First Aid and Pathoma.

If you hate reading the text, then you can still learn the material by using Anki.

The questions are usually one-liners. So it’s very easy to finish 30-50 in a short session.

Studying for Step 1 During

Dedicated Studying:

So you have a few weeks to study for step 1. How would you use Anki?

I find it to be a great tool to keep track of your missed questions. 

It’s key when you’re doing UWORLD to learn from your mistakes. Most students will write their missed questions down; other will use a word doc, etc.

But these above methods fail to test you on your weaker areas.

So how can you overcome this?

When you are reviewing a section of UWORLD, type in your missed questions and make them into flashcards.

If you missed a question (like I did recently) on arsenic poisoning. The question section can say “list out the presentation of arsenic poisoning”. The answer section can list out all the features.

Then every morning before you begin your actual studying, spend 20 minutes doing as many flashcards as you can.

This is a great method to keep up with your material from First Aid and UWORLD. You’re not counting on coming back to it later – Anki forces you to face your weaker points.

This surely helped me score well on my test.

Study for Clinical Rotations using Anki in Medical School:

You finished preclinicals and Step 1, can Anki still be used for clinical rotations?


If you don’t like making flashcards, Brosencephalon has a free Step 2 clinical deck. 

These are great tools to use especially early in a clinical rotation. You can finish the 100-200 cards per rotation within the first week or two.

So even if you haven’t finished your dedicated text, you’ve seen a good chunk of the high-yield material.

Also, you can also use a technique similar to the Step 1 section above. When you do your UWORLD questions, make flashcards for questions you miss and review them every morning.

If you want to get even more serious, add in questions from your residents, attendings, lectures which you got wrong. This is a great way to maintain the knowledge you learn.

If you want to learn my step-by-step method to learn for clinical rotations, click here!

Study for Step 2 Using Anki in Medical School:

This is currently where I’m at right now, and Anki has been a big part.

Similar to my Step 1 technique, use Anki to keep track of questions you miss in UWORLD.

Then review them before beginning the UWORLD questions for the next day.

Also, I can review the Step 2 Brosencephalon cards during this time as well.

So there you have it! Hope you’ve enjoyed this post about using Anki in medical school!

Comment below if you have any questions or ideas for future posts!

Check out more like this one below:

Studying in Medical School No More Than 5 Hours A Day
How to Use Speed Listening In Medical School (Cut Your Studying in Half)
How to Study For Rotations In Medical School (Step-By-Step Method)

If there is something specific you’d like me to address in a future blog post, comment below or email me at [email protected]

As always please like, share, and subscribe. Sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive updates on new blog posts. By signing up you also get access to my free eBook, Top Ten Resources for Medical School and a 3-part email series on how to succeed in medical school! Sign up here!

Top Resources For Medical School

If you’re a first or second-year medical student wanting guidance on how to succeed in medical school, read my book, The Preclinical Guide. I provide all the tips I wish I knew day one of medical school. Check out the book here.

Top Tips for Medical School

Until next time…

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