How to set up Anki

Anki is a commonly used application for medical student studying. Anki relies on the principle of spaced repetition to assist you in learning an enormous amount of material. Particularly beneficial to you, is that there are tons of pre-existing Anki decks that are freely accessible that have turned commonly used resources into flashcard format. Here, this article will discuss downloading and the initial set up of Anki.

Use this link to go to Anki’s website and download the free software. Select the version that is correct for your device. Follow the prompts on the screen to complete the installation. Open the program and it should open to the screen below.

View the first time you open Anki

While you can create your own flashcards, I recommend first exploring pre-made decks. There is an extremely vibrant online community of Anki users that have transformed the material presented in the highest rated medical school study resources (First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, Pathoma, Sketchy, Boards and Beyond, etc) into Anki flashcard decks. It can be overwhelming with the vast number of options for decks. Read the reviews listed and look for the resources that the individual decks cover. Stay tuned for our recommendations on which decks to use throughout your medical school training.

Once you have cards created or have downloaded pre-made decks to Anki, you can adjust your study settings. At the bottom of the screen, click on options. A pop up screen will appear. This will present you with a multitude of settings that you can adjust to alter the frequency you see each card and the number of cards available for review each day.

On the new cards tab, the new cards/day default setting is typically pretty low. You want to increase that to at least 100. On the reviews tab, you also want to increase the maximum reviews/day. A good initial setting is 250, but you can always adjust up or down based on your preferences later on. Click ok to save your changes. There are more advanced settings that can be adjusted later, but these basic settings should be sufficient to get you started.

Are you already using Anki? What decks do you recommend to other students? Comment below.

Back to more medical school resources and tips for getting started.

Carter J. Boyd, MD, MBA
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