How to review anki cards faster in med school

How To Review Anki Cards Faster In Med School

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So you want to use flashcards using Anki in medical school, but you want to make sure you’re using them effectively and efficiently. How do you do it? How to review Anki cards faster in med school?

Basically, what I want to show you in this post are a few different techniques that I use when I’m doing flashcards. That includes how I make them and how I review them.

There are actually two ways. First, I don’t make them and I use premade Anki decks. And second, if I’m trying to create a flashcard from a lecture, I use a very efficient method.

I will also be giving you my recommended way of getting through the flashcards quicker as well as examples of what your study schedule would look like if you choose to use Anki decks for your study.

Bonus: Want better grades with more free time (and less stress)? Get access to our free 3-step study system here to see what other top students do that you may not be doing!

But hey there – wait a minute! If you want this post in a video format, you can check out my YouTube video below! Make sure to subscribe for weekly content if you enjoy this one!

I’ve made a lot of posts in this blog about my unique method on how to use Anki. And if you’re interested in checking it out, you can find it here: How To Use Anki In Medical School

And if you’re more into the visual side of consuming content, you can check out this other video on my five-hour study method in medical school: Here’s How To Study Less in Medical School (Easy Step-By-Step Method 2020)

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Different Options for Anki Decks

Now first things first, let’s talk about the different options you have for Anki decks.

As I’ve mentioned, one option is that you can use decks that other people have created.

For example, here are Zanki decks, which is probably the biggest library. It has different resources from Pathoma, First Aid, for studying Step 1, as well as for your classes.

anki deck

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For example, for this deck, it’s going to ask you a very short one fact question that may refer to a piece of information shared on First Aid or something that’s important to learn for Step 1.

It has countless amounts of material on different topics. It has immunology, MSK, neurology, psychology, you name it.

Zanki sample flashcard

But there are also other decks, such as Brosencephalon and Pepper decks.

Premade Anki Decks Save You Time

From the screenshot above, you would notice that they’re pretty quick and easy to get through.

Premium Anki decks are great because they save you a lot of time for not having to make them yourself. It is also very quick and easy to study.

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Create Decks More Efficiently

But in terms of how to make flashcards for your classes using lecture slides, here’s the method that I like to use.

FYI. You might want to check out this video where I shared my five-hour study technique: Here’s How To Study Less in Medical School (Easy Step-By-Step Method 2020).

For example, here’s a lecture or PowerPoint presentation that I have for Osteomyelitis.

Normally, what people would do is they would try to make multiple flashcards per slide and find the little bits of details to create for each one. 

Powerpoint lecture - Osteomyelitis

Powerpoint lecture - Pathogenesis

They’ll probably end up with 20, 30, or even 40 different flashcard questions, and it just takes forever to make them. So you never really have the time to do the review.

But what I do is I put the lecture and the Anki decks next to each other. I have a dual monitor so it’s easier.

Anki deck side by side with Lecture notes

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And then I’ll create a new deck for whatever that lecture is. Just click “Create Deck. For this example, we’ll just call the deck “OM” for Osteomyelitis.

Then, click “Add to make your own flashcards. 

Anki - create a deck

Most people will type in something for the front and the back of the flashcards, but that’s not my cup of tea, just because it takes forever!

What I would do is just type in “Best imaging for OM diagnosis?” on the “front. And then I will screenshot that specific slide and just copy that on the “back“.

It should look like this.

anki card example 1

Now, whenever I see that specific flashcard, the real question is, “Do I know the best imaging for OM diagnosis?”

And with this flashcard, I can also test myself on all the different elements of this specific slide, like how useful is an MRI versus a CT versus a PET scan.

This method then helps me understand all the information in one place, has both the details as well as the big ideas, and it takes me only 10 seconds to make that flashcard.

Now, before I show you how to review Anki cards, I’m going to show one more example. So here’s one on Antibiotic Therapy.

Creating an Anki card 2

If you’re feeling really lazy, you can just copy and paste the title of the slide onto the “front and, just like I did in the last one, copy the whole slide onto the “back.

Everything doesn’t have to be important. However, if you want to add more notes, you can open the same slide and add those notes just so that it’s not limited to this one slide that you’ve pasted beforehand.

In this method, I know that it’s important for me to know the antibiotic therapy to treat Osteomyelitis, but I don’t want to spend 20 minutes making multiple flashcards on this topic. So instead I’m going to take 20 seconds to make it.

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Take One New Piece Of Information Every Time

Now, let’s say that I’ve finished making all my flashcards. 

If you click “Study Now, the first thing that’s going to show up is “Best Imaging for OM diagnosis?“.

Anki card example 1 - imaging

So I’m gonna think, “What’s the sensitivity or specificity of a CT scan versus a radiography?“, because I know that is on the slide.

Now let’s say I remembered one piece of information. For example, I remember that CT scans were about 50-50, but I also remember that MRIs are a little bit better.

So that is the piece of information that I learned, and then I would just have to learn the rest of it.

So, if this were a full deck of multiple cards, I would just go on to click “One Minute so that it will show that card to me again after one minute.

Now, for Antibiotic Therapy, I know Vancomycin is the empiric choice, but then I don’t really remember the other ones.

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Studying Anki cards 2

So I’ll give myself 10 seconds to ask, “What do I know? What do I not know?“.

Then I’m going to review the slide as quickly as possible and try to grasp one additional piece of information that I didn’t know before. Then I will click “One Minute again.

Anki card example 1 - imaging

Now let’s say, “Best Imaging for OM diagnosis?” comes up again.

I will now be able to say that CT scans is at 67% sensitivity and that it’s almost 90% for MRIAnd then I can say, “The sensitivity for radiography is pretty terrible, so it’s useful to rule out.”

That’s one more piece of information I’m gonna take away from this slide and then I will click “One Minute” for this slide to be shown again.

So every time I’m doing this, my goal is to think about how much information I remember and what piece of information I can add to my collection of knowledge for this big topic.

With this method, I would ask myself to do it again and again for all the other slides, and I find that this method specifically helps me ease into the review phase very quickly.

I will admit though, it does get a little overwhelming for students who do it for the first time because they’re just not really sure how they can get away from having one fact per flashcard to now having a whole slide.

But the big key here is how to study the cards faster.

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Use A Timer To Review Quicker

Now the best tip that I have for you, regardless of whether you use premade Anki decks or make your own cards, is to give yourself a timer for each Anki card that you do.

Usually, I give myself 5 to 10 seconds. During that time, I ask myself how much do I really know. And I just say whatever comes to mind.

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Your Own Deck

In the imaging example, I know that within 5 to 10 seconds I’m not yet going to know everything. So I would be taking note of things that I don’t know yet.

For example, here’s my train of thought:

I don’t remember looking at anything about PET scans when I was reviewing this, but I know it’s there. So I can spend 5 to 10 seconds on PET scans. I know the sensitivity of x-rays, CTs, and MRIs, but I have to learn about PET scans. It looks like PET scans are actually pretty good, but they’re expensive.

So that’s the piece of information that I’m going to take away in my 10-second review.

I have 10 seconds to answer the question, 10 seconds to review, and then I’m going to click “One Minute again.

I would probably see this flashcard more than 10 times during my study session.

With each time, I’m going to be able to take away one extra piece of information and feel more comfortable with the entire slide as opposed to getting overwhelmed by all the pieces of information in that one slide.

It’s going to take multiple repetitions, but since you can make your flashcards much quicker now, you can also get to the review longer to be able to understand it much more.

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Premade Decks

Now, I want to give an example for somebody who’s using Zanki decks or premade decks

Even when the questions are short, you should still give yourself 5 to 10 seconds to answer

It’s either you know it or you don’t. But when you’re in these situations where you find yourself spending a lot of time, give yourself only 10 seconds to really grasp it.

For example, in the figure below, I’m going to say, “Well, I know there are a lot of things on this slide. I could probably try to spend a minute or two trying to rewrite or remember. But instead, let’s try to understand just proteins for gap junction and desmosomes right now.”

Studying Anki cards 3

I’m going to click “One Minute, and once it appears again, not only will I be able to answer the question for gap junction, but I’ll also be able to remember one or two more things from the table without spending an excessive amount of time.

So you can see how you’ll be able to get through them much quicker if you’re spending only 10 to 20 seconds per flashcard. Give yourself multiple flashcards per minute versus multiple minutes per flashcard.

Force yourself to have a timer to answer the question and to move on from the question.

To give one more example, here’s a flashcard about the different layers of the epidermis.

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Studying Anki cards 4

I may not be able to remember all the different phases in this figure, but I can remember maybe the first two like the corneum and granulosum.

I might say, “Okay, those are the first two that I need to remember when I’m shown this question again,” and I’m just going to proceed from there.

The whole idea is about grasping a little piece of new knowledge than you had before.

Final Tip: Create A Study Plan

So far, we talked about how to make flashcards quicker and even how to study them quicker

But I want to leave you with this final tip: Have a study schedule or a study plan you could actually use to make flashcards your only form of resource. That is, to be able to review and study only using your flashcards and still do quite well.

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Create Your Flashcards

So the first part of your study plan is going to be creating the actual flashcards.

If you’re using a premade deck like Zanki, you won’t have to make the flashcards. But what I do recommend is creating a separate deck in Anki where you make flashcards for all your class material.

For example, if you’re learning cardiology, you will create a Cardiology deck. 

As you’re going through class material, if you have a class about BCS or murmurs, you can then create a new deck specifically about Murmurs under Cardiology.

how to use Anki decks 3

Now, what you can do is go into the Browse section on Anki. You can find the Cardiovascular section and find any question that you think may work for the Murmur section.

So here we have a question. Specifically, we’re talking about S2 sound and mitral stenosis.

how to use Anki decks

Right-click on them and then change the deck and make them into your Murmurs deck for your lectures.

how to use Anki decks 2

Now, you have a specific Anki deck using Zanki. You can go ahead and test yourself for the lecture the next day.

If you were to use my method of using screenshots to make your own lectures, you only need to spend about 30 to 40 minutes for three lectures that you may have the next day.

Bonus: Want better grades with more free time (and less stress)? Get access to our free 3-step study system here to see what other top students do that you may not be doing!

Personalize And Annotate Your Flash Cards

What I like to do next is go into class and, whether I’m using Zanki or my own flashcards, I go into the Browse section and find the flashcard that I had just made. 

If I have to add any piece of detail from the lecture, I’ll just add them into Anki myself. 

Again, the whole idea here is to only make it high yield. So if it’s not very pertinent or relevant, I try not to add it.

And if I do think it’s high yield or if they say it is going to be on the test, I’d definitely make sure it’s going to be on my flashcards.

Now, after a lecture, I give myself roughly 30 to 40 minutes to review the flashcards that I made for that specific lecture.

So if I had three lectures, it will take me about an hour and a half to review all of them.

And again, the whole goal is to give myself 10 seconds to review or to answer the question and another 10 seconds to review any other piece of information on that slide or flashcard, to make sure I can answer it even better the next time.

And the whole process repeats itself.

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In the evening, you can go ahead and create flashcards for the next day.

And if there’s an upcoming test, then you just have to give yourself an extra session, whenever you are free, to do some more flashcards from old lectures that may also show up on the exam.

And this, my friends, is all that I have to share for now, to help summarize how to use Anki and do a little bit more effectively.

If you want more tips on how to use Anki effectively, once again you can check out my very helpful video: Here’s How To Study Less in Medical School (Easy Step-By-Step Method 2020) where I share my five-hour study technique.

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Until the next one my friend…

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