MedSchool + Anki

The studying modality taking over medical education.
Learn how to effectively and efficiently integrate Anki into your medical education.
The intent of this website is to serve as an orientation and guide to using Anki in med school
(as well as to provide information on other Step 1 and Step 2 resources).

What is Anki?

Anki is a studying aid created by Damien Elmes. It is a flashcard app that uses a novel spaced repetititon algorithm to maximize learning. There are Anki apps available on Windows, Mac, Android, (all free) and on iOS ($25) as well as a browser version @ AnkiWeb.net that can all be synced to one account

Click here to download the Anki Desktop app (for Windows or Mac, both are free) or download it at the Google Play Store ("AnkiDroid Flashcards" app) or App Store ("AnkiMobile Flashcards" app) on your mobile device

To learn how to install Anki and create an AnkiWeb profile, click here

How Can I Use Anki in Medical School? And Why Should I?

A study published a few years ago showed that the more Anki flashcards students did, the higher their board scores were. Students across the country have begun using Anki to supplement other studying methods. The beauty of using Anki in medical school is that in addition to being able to create your own flashcards, there are several pre-made decks that generous students have created and shared. A list of these decks with descriptions and the history behind them is listed below.


A thorough guide created by a student (Shamim Ahmed) also exists on how to incoporate Anki into your daily study routine in medical school.

Most Popular Student Created "Boards-Prep" Anki Decks

The following are the most popular student created anki decks used to prepare for Step 1, with a section being updated over the next few weeks for Step 2. Each deck has a brief explanation and a download link. For discussions regarding these decks and other med school Anki decks, go to /r/medicalschoolanki.

Note: When choosing which decks to use, choose:
  • a Physiology + Pathology Deck , either Zanki or the Bro's deck
  • a Microbiology Deck, either Pepper Micro or Torky Micro and
  • a Pharmacology Deck, either Zanki Pharm or Pepper Pharm
  • or alternatively, use
  • Lightyear Boards & Beyond Deck as it covers Boards and Beyond, which a is very comprehensive boards resource

  • Add in other decks (like Pepper Pathoma or Pepper UWorld) if you use the resources off of which those decks are based.

    Ultimately, choosing which decks to use is really a matter of personal preference.
    Most importantly, doing a deck the right way (i.e.- sticking with it and doing reviews every day) is more important than choosing the "right deck", as the decks cover a lot of the same resources

    Zanki Physiology + Pathology Anki Deck

    Created by /u/ZankiStep1 and is based primarily on First Aid 2016 and 2017 editions as well as Pathoma and Costanzo. The deck is intended to cover all relevant physiology and pathology for boards.
    Along with the Brosencephalon deck (brosencephalon.com) and Lightyear deck (listed below) this is one of the the gold standard decks for covering most topics for Step 1 using Anki. This version does NOT cover microbiology (Use Pepper Micro for microbiology.) There have been various attempts at updating Zanki, visit /r/medicalschoolanki to learn more about them. This is the original version of Zanki Physiology+Pathology

    The biggest non-micro topic missing is the Neoplasia Chapter from Pathoma

    Zanki Pharmacology Anki Deck

    Also created by /u/ZankiStep1 and based primarily off of First Aid 2016/2017 and SketchyPharm. The biggest topic missing is the cancer pharmacology section.

    I personally believe Pepper Pharmacology is more complete but prefer the organization/style of Zanki. Using one or the other is a matter of personal preference

    Lightyear, Boards + Beyond Anki Deck

    Created by /u/Lightyear2k and based primarily on Boards and Beyond videos, with ~22,500 cards and very comprehensive. Boards and Beyond is very comprehensive of the material covered on Step 1 and has the related pages in First Aid cited. Watching Boards & Beyond videos, doing the quizzes for the corresponding videos, reading the related pages in First Aid + annotating them, and then doing the corresponding cards in the Lightyear anki deck should prepare students very well and cover the physiology, pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, etc information needed for boards. This new deck seems to be entering the "gold standard" tier that the Zanki Step 1 and Brosencephalon decks are in for covering most topics for Step 1 using Anki. Read this to learn more about the Lightyear Anki deck

    Duke's Pathoma Anki Deck

    A deck to learn pathology primarily based off of Pathoma with images form several different resources. i.e.-Watch/read a section of Pathoma and then test what you learned by doing the cards in this deck. Read this to learn more about the Duke Anki deck.

    Pepper Microbiology Anki Deck

    Created by UCsultanpepper and based primarily off of SketchyMicro and First Aid and includes drawings by Netter. Intended to supplement SketchyMicro (i.e.-Watch a SketchyMicro video and then test what you learned by using the cards in this deck). Watch this video to learn how to use the Pepper decks.

    Pepper Pharmacology Anki Deck

    Created by UCsultanpepper and based primarily off of SketchyPharm and First Aid. Intended to supplement SketchyPharm (i.e.-Watch a SketchyPharm video and then test what you learned by using the cards in this deck). Watch this video to learn how to use the Pepper decks.

    I personally believe Pepper Pharmacology is more complete but prefer the organization/style of Zanki. Using one or the other is a matter of personal preference

    Pepper Pathoma Anki Deck

    Created by UCsultanpepper and based off of Pathoma. Intended to supplement Pathoma. i.e.-Watch/read a section of Pathoma and then test what you learned by doing the cards in this deck. Watch this video to learn how to use the Pepper decks.

    Pepper UWorld

    Created by UCsultanpepper and based off of UWorld. Watch this video to learn how to use the Pepper decks.

    Zanki Expansion

    An effort led by /u/bluegalaxies to update the original Zanki to fill in the gaps that existed (mostly in microbiology and pharm)

    Torky Micro

    The original microbiology anki deck, created by /u/ehtork88

    *Notes on Personal Bias

    Note: The recommendations made here are the personal opinions of the site creator for the sake of simplicity, as there are nuances and pros+cons to using each deck. Below are some of the personal biases that were held while making the above recommendations.
    • The Lightyear Boards & Beyond based deck is newer and less tried and trued than the other decks.
    • The Bro's Deck is older and more "tried and true" time tested than Zanki Physiology+Pathology, so some students argue that Bro's>Zanki. They were both listed in the same box above because the creator of the site considers them to be more or less equal and using one over the other to be a matter of personal preference. For more in depth information about the Bro's deck, visit the site that the creator of the Bro's deck made .
    • Due to the newness of all the Pepper decks, it's hard to definitively say how effective it is for microbiology, but the site creator listed it and all the other Pepper decks because of how comprehensive Pepper has been in their experience. The original standard for microbiology was the Torky Deck created by /u/ehtork88.
    • For Pharmacology, Zanki Pharm and the updates to it have been around longer than the Pepper Pharm deck, so some students prefer Zanki for that reason. The site creator prefers the Pepper Pharm deck because of the incorporation of First Aid information+images in addition to SketchyPharm in the cards, although this is another case of personal preference between the two decks

    • As mentioned earlier, for really thorough discussions on the pros+cons of individual decks, visit the /r/medicalschoolanki community. Ultimately, I would recommend trying different decks and/or skimming through them using the "Browse" function in Anki to figure out which decks work best for your own learning style.

    Other Boards/Step 1 Resources

    Below are the boards resources subdivided into tiers. The ranking of these resources is informal and has come from reading internet discussions and talking to upperclassmen about which resources they preferred and thought were the best.

    In the "Golden" tier are resources that include high yield information and that anecdotally many or all medical students consider to be amongst the best resources to use to prepare for boards. In the "Silver" tier are resources that are also very good but not every medical student uses. In the "Bronze" tier are resources that students can use when the other resources do not work as well for specific learning styles but are also thought to be useful.

    Along with each resource is a link to purchase it

    Golden Tier

    -Boards and Beyond: Video series by Dr. Jason Ryan covering physiology and pathology with quizzes and slides available as PDF's/books included in subscription
    -First Aid: Annual book created by material submitted by medical students that covers all high yield material for Step 1. Buy the most current edition
    -Pathoma: Video series by Dr. Hussein Sattar covering pathology with companion book included in subscription
    -Sketchy Med: Sets of video series covering microbiology and pharmacology that use drawings to reinforce material. Very good for learning microbiology and also useful for learning pharmacology. However, not everyone can learn using this style. The micro and pharm anki decks listed above heavily incorporate this resource into the decks and using them in conjuction is very potent
    -UWorld: Question bank that contains >2,000 board style multiple choice questions that almost every medical student completes once or twice before taking Step 1. UWorld is regarded as the best of the available question banks and most similar to the style and difficulty of questions that shows up on Step 1.

    Silver Tier

    -BRS Physiology: Written by Dr. Linda Costanzo. Outline format book with 350 end-of-chapter questions that covers the high yield information for physiology. Dr. Costanzo has also written the full length text Physiology if one wants to delve deeper into physiology
    -Rapid Review Pathology: Written by Dr. Edward Goljan. Similar to Pathoma, this is a review text for pathology. There is also an audio series by Dr. Goljan that exists out on the internet if you search for it.
    -Firecracker: A product that includes >28,000 flashcards+multiple choice questions along with >1500 boards practice questions. The product is tailored towards individual use and creates a personalized study plan for users. Can be very time intensive and should probably only be used for studying for boards if you start using it early (i.e. not a good idea to start using it during dedicated study time).
    -Kaplan Step 1 Qbank: A question bank created by Kaplan with over 2,000 boards-style questions. Generally thought to be more difficult questions that focus on minutiae.
    -USMLE-Rx Step 1 Qmax: A question bank created by the authors of First Aid with >2,000 boards-style questions. Generally thought to be easier than the Kaplan qbank and focuses more on fact recall from First Aid.

    Bronze Tier

    -Pastest: A newer Q-bank with over 2,000 boards style questions. Consensus on it from students is limited since it is such a new resource, but it is free to sign up until August 2018 after which point they will start charging for their service. The questions tend to be shorter than the other Q-banks
    -Medical Physiology: Written by Dr. Walter Boron. A full length text similar to Costanzo's "Physiology" text that can be used to dive deeper into physiology
    -Doctors in Training (DIT): A structured study program that includes a video series and questions. Useful for those who have the time to devote to it (and the money, as it is pretty expensive)
    -Memorang: A newer service that offers thousands of pre-made flashcards for different topics, including things as broad as the "USMLE Step 1" flashcard deck to as specific as the "Netter's Anatomy" flashcard deck. Includes free trials.
    -Dr. Najeeb Lectures: Created by Dr. Syed Najeeb. A video series with white-board-talks delivered by Dr. Najeeb covering topics for boards. The videos are in depth and fairly long
    First Aid for the Basic Sciences: Organ Systems: Written by students and reviewed by faculty. A text in the First Aid series that covers the high-yield info for the organ systems.

    Most Popular Student Created "Boards-Prep" Step 2 Anki Decks

    The following are the most popular student created anki decks used to prepare for Step 2. Each deck has a brief explanation and a download link. For discussions regarding these decks and other med school Anki decks, go to /r/medicalschoolanki.

    Zanki Step 2 CK/Clerkships Deck

    Created by the same student, /u/ZankiStep1, who made the original Zanki deck and designed to closely follow along with UWorld for Step 2. General opinion seems to be to do the UWorld questions for the shelf/rotation you’re studying for and then use the corresponding cards throughout the year to prepare for Step 2 CK. Currently the gold standard for Step 2/shelf exam studying using Anki. Click here to learn more about the deck

    WiWa Step 2 CK/Clerkships Deck

    Like the Zanki Step 2 deck, this deck is based on UWorld Step 2 CK questions, but this deck is made more in the style of Brosencephalon’s Step 1 deck, with short questions and limited context clues. Most of the questions are cloze deletions in a short-answer format Unlike other Step 2 decks, it is not case-based. Click here to learn more about the deck

    Doc Deck for Internal Medicine Clerkship

    Based off of the “Step-Up to Medicine” book and Online Med Ed videos. Should be used in conjunction with a UWorld Step 2 deck (aka Zanki Step 2 or WiWa Step 2 decks). Click here to learn more about this deck

    Other Step 2 Decks

  • Visitor's Step 2 Deck: Click to Download. Click here to learn about the deck
  • Dope 2 Deck: Click to Download. Click here to learn about the deck
  • Visitor's Step 2 Clinical Skills Deck: Click to Download. Click here to learn about the deck

    Other Step 2/Clerkship Resources

    Below are the most commonly used Step 2/clerkships/shelf resources. Many of these resources are newer, but are highly rated by students. The listing of these resources is informal and has come from reading internet discussions and talking to upperclassmen about which resources they preferred and thought were the best.

    QBank Resources

    -AMBOSS: A new question bank/interactive library for clerkships/Step 2, AMBOSS is basically a wikipedia for 3rd year with a built in question bank. AMBOSS is the standard in Germany for medical students and is quickly gaining ground in the US, with a Step 1 question bank/interactive library coming soon. (Use code "AMBOSS-3N5C-XHBJ-X8VT" for free 2 week trial)
    -UWorld: Just like for Step 1, UWorld is the gold standard for Step 2 questions. It's question bank contains ~2,300 board style multiple choice questions that almost every medical student completes once or twice before taking Step 2. UWorld is regarded as the best of the available question banks and most similar to the style and difficulty of questions that shows up on Step 2.

    Videos

    -Online Med Ed: Created by Dr. Dustyn Williams, this is the equivalent of Pathoma/Boards & Beyond for 3rd year, a FREE video series that covers the major topics for each clerkship. In addition to the free videos, there are several extra features (i.e.-a Qbank, notes on the videos, flashcards etc) included with a paid membership.

    Clerkship Specific Resources (*more being added*)

    The intent in creating the clerkship specific resources section was to formalize the listing of resources that are often passed along by word-of-mouth. These are mostly the textbooks you can use during rotations to study for shelf exams

    -Obstetrics + Gynecology: Most students read through all of either Casefiles or Blueprints at least once for their Ob/Gyn rotation
    -Surgery: Two of the popular books for studying for the surgery rotation/shelf are Pestana's Surgery Notes and Surgical Recall.
    -Psychiatry: Most students read through First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship one or two times during their rotation
    -Internal Medicine: Step-Up to Medicine is a popular outline style book for the internal medicine rotation/shelf.

    FAQ

    How do I install Anki?

    Go to apps.AnkiWeb.net and click Download to download + install the desktop version.
    For Android users, go to the Google Play Store and download the AnkiDroid Flashcards app.
    For iOS users, go to the App Store and download the AnkiMobile Flashcards app from the App Store.

    How do I sync my Anki decks between devices?

    Follow the steps in this PDF to learn how to set up syncing.

    How do I study a specific topic in one of the premade Anki Decks?

    Follow the steps in this PDF to learn how to use Filtered Decks to study a specific topic. (Note: if you want to use this concept with any of the Pepper decks, watch this video to learn how to use the Pepper decks because the creator UCsultanpepper incorporated tags and the hierarchical tags addon to make studying a specific topic very easy without the need for creating a Filtered Deck).

    More Q's and A's are coming, feel free to send a message below about any questions you would like answered

    Get in touch

    If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggstions on how to improve the site, please reach out. You can do so by filling out the form below. Thank you.