13 Steps to Better ANKI Flashcards | Part 1/2

13 Steps to Better ANKI Flashcards | Part 1/2


If you’re a pre-med or medical student,
you’ve likely heard of Anki. Chances are that you fall into one of two
camps – you either love it, or you’ve tried it and decided that it wasn’t for you. If you fall into the latter, I’m willing
to bet that you’re not creating good flashcards. These are the best principles to make Anki
easy and effective. Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. If you haven’t already, be sure to watch
the part one video on how to improve your memory. This is the part two video in a three part
series. Spaced repetition software, like Anki, is
one of the most powerful learning tools available for medical students. But as a tool, there are those who use it
well, and those who misuse it. When I first started using Anki as a medical
student, some of my cards were good, but most were garbage. It wasn’t until the end of medical school
and while I was in plastic surgery residency that I began using it most effectively. These are the best practices in creating effective
flashcards. First, keep your decks simple. Don’t have a sub-deck for each week in a class. This fragmentation simply complicates the
task of reviewing the necessary information. My general recommendation is to create a single
deck for large exam. In medical school, I had a single deck for
Step 1 that included everything from my first two years. My Step 2CK deck included everything from
my third year. Within each deck, I tagged cards by organ
system, like cardiology or pulmonology, and also by other useful pieces of information,
such as whether they included a mnemonic or other memory device. Structuring your deck in this manner serves
two main purposes. First, you’ll waste less time organizing
and structuring your deck. Sometimes simple is better. Second, and more importantly, you’ll be
in the habit of reviewing the entire deck, which is very good for your larger exams,
whether that’s the MCAT or USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX. With a fragmented deck, this just doesn’t
happen. Remember, for spaced repetition software like
Anki to work properly, you must regularly review information. Many students are concerned that they’ll
be wasting precious time reviewing older information at the expense of newer information. But therein lies the beauty of spaced repetition. By the time you’ve moved onto the next class,
the intervals for your previous subject are much longer, meaning it takes far less time
to maintain the already-consolidated information. And when the big exam comes around, you still
remember most everything. Number two, First Understand, Then Memorize.
A surprising number of students succumb to the mistake of trying to memorize something
that they don’t comprehend. There is little utility in memorizing a string
of information if you are not able to adequately conceptualize and place it within a mental
scaffolding. If you don’t first understand the information,
you’re much less likely to remember and recall it. Equally important, you’re also less likely
to adequately apply the information come test day. Remember, performing well on a test isn’t
just a matter of knowing the information, but also understanding its context and how
to apply it. You will drastically reduce the time it takes
to learn and memorize if you’re able to slot each individual piece into a coherent
structure. Memorizing loosely related facts is of little
utility. Number three, Lay the Foundations First.
This tip is based on the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, which states
that 80% of the effects come from the 20% of causes. Applied to Anki flashcards, this means being
efficient with how you study – focus on the highest yield information such that on
test day, you’ve optimized your chances of scoring well. Often times, students get caught up in smaller
details which are low-yield. Remember that a mental scaffolding and foundation
of basics is essential. Simple models, after all, are easier to comprehend
and quickly review. From there, you can fill in the details as
you progress. Number four, Follow the Minimum Information Principle.
The Minimum Information Principle reminds us that simple is easy, and that simple cards
are easier to review and schedule. Consider this. If a single card has two sub-items, you need
to keep repeating the card to keep the more difficult item in your memory. However, if you split this single card into
two separate cards, each can be repeated at their own pace, ultimately saving you time
in the long term. This is arguably the biggest offense of most
students when they first begin using Anki. Most students make very complex cards that
could be broken down into a dozen or more sub-items. I was guilty of doing this for much of medical
school. Some may argue that since the number of cards
increases, it’s ultimately less beneficial. You must keep in mind that the total number
of repetitions will decrease over time. By sticking with a complex card with multiple
sub-items, you’re more likely to (1) forget the more difficult sub-item repeatedly, (2)
repeat the card in excessively short intervals, or (3) remember only a part of the complex
card. Number five, Cloze Deletions Are Your Best Friend.
I used Anki for several months before learning about Cloze deletions. Once I did, they quickly became my favorite
type of card. Cloze deletions are essentially fill-in-the-blank
questions. You can make the blank as short or long as
you want. I go over the shortcuts, formatting, and details
on how to use Cloze deletions in a previous video. If you’re finding it difficult to stick
with the minimum information principle, then Cloze deletions are a great tool to break
your bad habits. They’re also incredibly efficient to create,
as you can copy text from your powerpoint or notes and create Cloze cards in just seconds. Number six, Use Images, Photos, & Figures.
Your memory is much more efficient at retaining visual than textual information. It makes sense – we’ve evolved over millions
of years and only had written language for a small percentage of our existence. Images are particularly beneficial for certain
subjects, like anatomy or chemistry. That being said, I’d argue that even for
more text-based subjects, images are still warranted. When creating your Anki cards, try to find
an image for most of your cards. It doesn’t always have to be exactly related
to the card, either. If the topic of the card makes you think of
something unrelated, find an image of it. While this may take upfront time and investment,
over the long term it greatly reduces your learning time. Be generous with inserting images into Anki. Go on Google images, search for something
relevant, and quickly copy/paste it or screenshot into Anki. Knowing your shortcuts will save you loads
of time here. If you have a diagram you want to test yourself
on, like the Kreb’s cycle, you can block certain segments of the image and create cards
that way. The best way to do this is the Image Occlusion
Enhanced plugin for Anki. I go over how to install and use it in a previous
video. Link in the description below. Creating Anki cards and optimizing your learning
in medical school is no easy task. It took me years of experimentation and tweaking
to finally get consistent and excellent results that allowed me to match into a hyper competitive
surgical subspecialty. If you aren’t getting the results you want
in university or medical school, our tutors at MedSchoolInsiders.com can help. Whether it’s the MCAT, USMLE Step 1, or
any other pre-med or medical school test, we can help. Our tutors scored in the top percentiles and
can help you do the same. If you regularly watch our YouTube videos,
chances are you know how heavily we emphasize the importance of systems in generating desirable
results. Our tutoring is no different. We’ve painstakingly taken months crafting
the systems in place to provide the best quality tutoring. We take a holistic approach, examining your test taking strategies, study
methods, road blocks and sticking points, and customize a tailored plan to optimize
your performance on test day. Visit MedSchoolInsiders.com to learn more. This is the end of Part 2. In the third and final part, we’ll finish
up with additional best practices for your Anki card creation. If you found these tips useful, then you definitely
don’t want to miss the last part. Anki is a beast of a program, so let me know
down below if you have any other questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. New videos every Saturday morning, and I’m going to spend the first hour after the video uploads answering your questions, so make sure you’re subscribed and you have the notification bell enabled. Much love to you all, and I will see you guys
in part three.

99 thoughts on “13 Steps to Better ANKI Flashcards | Part 1/2”

  1. On the iPhone the anki app with the stars is ~$25
    There’s an orange one that also says AnkiApp and it’s free
    Are they the same company? What’s the difference and which one is better

  2. Could you make a new video on image occlusion enhanced because they updated it and i have no idea how to find my way around in it anymore! :/

  3. Thanks for all great videos. I know I will go back to those once I start to study pre-optometry as a major very sooon!!👀👍

  4. I am not a medical student so my classes are not even hard and there isn't so much to memoriese but I know they gonna be harder in future. So I started to make cards from now 🙂

  5. Hey, I want to know how do you make anki cards for learning lists of information like a list of symptoms or diagnosis. I can recall some of the points but not all so I think I am being inefficient. Can you address this your next video or reply.

  6. Some really good information here! I use anki every day to learn Japanese and medicine. The problem with anki is that its default settings are trash and suffers a lot from The Ease Factor Problem. For those of you who find that anki that works for you, I suggest reading through this: https://massimmersionapproach.com/table-of-contents/anki/low-key-anki/intro/

    It goes through the forgetting curve and a bit of the maths behind anki's algorithm and then offers some changes that will streamline how you use anki. It was principally designed for japanese learners, but the concepts apply to many other subjects. If you use this with the tips in this video, i think it will be well worth the read.

  7. Thanks! Just wanna ask when would you recommend us to CREATE the flashcards, if thorough understanding of the topic is emphasized? Coz If i create them on firsr exposure, im often tempted to simply copy points over passively, without digesting and making correlations.

  8. I use anki in medical school and one issue I, along with some of my classmates, come across with Zanki/lightyear deck cloze deletions is that we're able to fill in the cloze deletion answer but forgetting what disease/concept it relates to come test day. Does this happen to you? Tips to avoid falling into this issue? Would love to continue using Anki but this problem makes me think it might not be for me..

  9. I am not in med sccool, but my major is Chinese language, so anki helped me a looooot with remembering so many new words and characters 😊 I still haven't tried adding images to my flash cards, but I should probably do that as well 👍

  10. How do I avoid “recognizing” cards? In other words, how can I RECALL information without the cues that are present in closed deletions? I’m still an undergrad, and some courses require you to recall information rather than recognize it. For example, in my biotechnology midterm, we were asked to “write down steps, procedures, uses and criticisms” of stem cell technology. Points were awarded based on whether or not all concepts were mentioned (IN DETAIL), and whether or not specific examples given. Anki would have dispersed these concepts in 200-300 cards which are very difficult to mentally manipulate on the spot. I think mind-mapping and writing outlines is still better…Anki does not help with exams that require high critical and creative thinking, and is all but useless in exams that ask you to compare/contrast two concepts that are seemingly unrelated.

    Overall, I think Anki is good if you are being tested on basic recognition (like in MCQs), but fails when the test requires you to manipulate the information, think critically and outside the box. Mind maps, outlines, and snowball memorizing seem better to me, for now in undergrad at least.

    Writing down things by hand, and looking back and ‘feeling’ the emotion in my handwriting (weird to explain) makes me retain things so much faster. Also, handwriting is more dynamic and changing than typed text, so I am less likely to get bored when reading.

    Please let me know how things are in med school! Are we really asked to mindlessly memorize things and to regurgitate them with no critical and creative output?

    Would you recommend we create mind maps, THEN use Anki for the details ? My memory is very visual and Anki makes it impossible to visually link information. This I why I’m more likely to stash related information on a same card when using Anki.

  11. Second year university student, I ended up with a C in bio last semester which wasn't good and I may need to retake, but Anki and your videos have been so helpful that I currently have an A and a physiology test tomorrow so hopefully that goes better!

    Thanks and subbed!

  12. I agree with all of these points, except for the point that you shouldn't break things down by week. For one, I think there are a couple new add ons (Papa, mama, baby) now that help "scramble" cards so that, even if you are breaking it down by week, you can still get everything randomly. Also, the benefit of breaking it down week by week is that it allows more targeted studying (i.e. quizzes, specific labs that you might have a particular week, etc.). That's why I usually break things down by week. But, aside from that, I think all of these tips are golden!

  13. Thanks for the great video Dr. Jubbal! Would you consider making a video showing how you made anki cards for a typical med school lecture? I have trouble determining what is high-yield and can sometimes end up with 100 cards per lecture.

  14. Understanding first can be a good strategy, but don't take it as dogma. There are many things that are understood only after we commit them to memory, which is often (but not always) the truer path to placing the scaffolding mentioned in this video.

    Students would also do well to think about what "understanding" actually means when it comes to committing information to memory. There is more than one kind of understanding, and a lot of the information you'll deal with relates to different kinds that place different demands on different levels of memory.

  15. I made efficient Anki decks but I feel I make good decks yet I encounter so many random facts that weren’t in my Anki deck! Any suggestions would go a long way for me.

  16. I’ve been using screenshots of PowerPoints (or pics from the lab), plus Image Occlusion – it works extremely well, and can even serve the same purpose as Cloze deletions (just occlude out the “blanked” word).

    I’ve never really used tags before, but am going to start doing so now – especially since my IO cards have super long IDs and are borderline impossible to find via search… thanks for the tips!

  17. Can u please show us how u tagged your flashcards? There is a Herarchical Tags Add-On that I installed (to review a SketchyMicro deck from Pepper) with a tree of tags, but I cant do the same 🙁
    Great work as always dr. Jubbal

  18. This was super helpful! I'm an Anki lover, but I gotta fix my cards..they are way too complex. You nailed it, brotha! Thanks!

  19. Hey everyone, so I’m an undergraduate student with definitive plans to go into med school. I’ve used Anki and noticed that there is an option to copy a link to share sets of flashcards. I was wondering if perhaps a current or former med school student could link me their sets of cards that they use for classes so that I may get an early head start and get a better picture of what to expect from med school. I would really appreciate it!

  20. Never used ANKI before graduate school, and used it this whole year. Easiest 4.0 I've gotten in terms of time spent to memorize information using Dr. J's tips and his tips only. Don't complicate your ANKI cards, MAKE THEM SHORT, and don't spend too much time making a single card!!

  21. For instance: I'm not in the field of medicine and I use it for other purposes (mainly learning languages).
    If I add a word with 2 meanings: would it be better to have two separate cards for each meaning?

  22. I feel like flash cards are not as useful for conceptual heavy subjects, like the ones you find most often in the humanities. How should they be adapted to make them more effective?

  23. Heart full thanks for your vedio, can you please make a vedio on how you use Quizlet as it doesn't have space repeatition software

  24. How to memorize classifications via Anki? Imho, it's impossible to make simple cards with this kind of information.

  25. How can I distinguish what is high-yield and what is not. My first year of med school was full of me studying EVERYTHING very hard and eventually not being able to cope up and couldn't score well because of that. How can I distinguish what is high-yield and what is not? Even if I make good anki cards, what if I made so many cards of low-yield concepts?

  26. How do you go about memorizing multiple function for one thing then. Like let's say I want to memorize the function of the golgi apparatus . U said multiple cards would be better however how would you implement this? I am having difficulty making things that have multiples steps or functions separate simple cards

  27. DiNA Importante
    i’m kinda confused. So I made a deck on Wednesday, around 150, and I have a test on Monday. Will Anki show all of my cards?

  28. So lets say that i want to make anki card from one subject ( maby neuro ) , how should i make questions ? Should i Make a question from each part? Because we have multiple choice exams pleas help me

  29. I dont know why, but having just one deck makes me feel like i mix all the information and wehn i try to learn it things dont make sense, because questions about topics further in the subject come before basics. I dont know, but having one deck doesnt sound like a good idea to me. Usually i learn by script which means everything is chronologicaly ordered. Ive just strted usig anki and I really find it hard building over the basics because details and basics are mixed. I dont know what to do. I am afraid i will fail the exam, because i wont be able tu study well…

  30. For med school I have an exam every month so a new a new subject every month and we dont have big exams at the end of the semester. I dont get how to use the spaced repetition in such a short amount of time on anki. Is there anything I can do to make sure I get all the cards everytime I revise on the subjects? Instead of just a few everyday?

  31. Thank you for this! I've been using Anki for a while but still had so much trouble making effective flashcards. This video helped me a lot and my grades increased a lot when I started applying these tips! Thank you so much!!

  32. I decided to try flashcarding years ago and fell into these exact pitfalls. Thanks for the strategies, you’re sick!:))

  33. These videos are great. However I will be studying IT/Math, and I would like to learn how to use Anki for those, more technical subjects. Anyone can point me in the right direction?

    I have a bunch of experience with Anki for language learning though.

  34. Until now I make written notes on paper while studying. I have the feeling it takes too much time making Anki cards and make notes on paper. Do you guys just make anki material to study?

  35. Can you provide an example of a "coherent structure"?

    So what does a "coherent structure" look like when Anki displays the cards in the order they are input only the first time through the deck. Subsequent reviews will not be in any kind of order and the order cannot be controlled by the user.

  36. Hello docter! I was wondering if im still in highschool can i catogorize the cards by chapters? Since im not studying for a really big test just small ones?

  37. Realmente me han ayudado muchísimo tus videos, te deseo lo mejor en tu carrera y en tu vida, eres una bendición para muchos de nosotros, es extraordinario poder tener los subtítulos en español latino.

  38. I’m trying to implement Anki into my Pilots training and study. Anyone out there having success in this field or have any useful ideas specific to Aviation?

  39. PLEASE , I need to help!
    How do you do to have in a deck in first the new card (blue) and in second the due card (green or red) ?
    Because each time I click on the deck, I have in first the due card and after the new (3 days ago I always had the new in first)
    God bless you if you understand the problem.
    (sorry for my English, I am a French)

  40. 筆記:
    1. 保持結構簡單,不要分層
    2. 先理解,再記憶
    3. 必要的基礎知識
    4. 一張卡資訊要簡單,不要像粽子
    5. fill in the _ (怎麼做,看之前影片)
    6. 圖片會很棒,開始很慢但累積起來效果好

  41. I am always afraid that when i make flashcard with one simple information rather than "broad question" i won't be able to answer to broad question on the exam (we have open question exams, not ABCD tests). I have a feeling that i wouldnt be able to gahter im my mind all the information from those "small ammount information flashcards". Should I stick with broad questions or try the technique dr.Jubal recommend anyway? Anybody has similar problem as me?

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