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Feb 6, 2018

good anki decks?


Edited: Feb 6, 2018

do you recommend any specific premade Anki decks? I know you said you make your own but my step 1 is coming up in a month so I don't really have time to do that

Feb 6, 2018Edited: Feb 6, 2018

I actually don't recommend using pre-made decks! The point of flashcards is for you to memorize the things likely to be tested on the USMLE that you don't already know. Pre-made decks will contain many things you already know, and the process of making your own cards is one of the best learning tools available to you (adults remember much better by actively making things!).


1 month is plenty of time to make your own cards. Don't waste time memorizing first aid, just make cards (with Anki!) for the questions you get wrong, do it every day, and you'll see it actually isn't too time consuming once you get the hang of it :)


Happy studying,


Feb 21, 2018

Thoughts on using the premade cards to sift out concepts you aren't familiar with? The cards are pretty comprehensive in terms of First Aid and Pathoma, to me it's like pulling flashcards out of a dictionary.

Feb 21, 2018

This is another great question! I think part of the reason people are hesitant to make their own cards is they feel it isn't efficient compared to just using existing cards that are well done. Our view is that the process of making cards is actually the most important aspect of our method.


It all comes down to what activities are most likely to lead to long-term retention. With passive learning strategies, you will likely forget almost all of what you study within 2 weeks. Spaced repetition with existing flashcards is active (I'd say it's akin to activities that lead to 70% retention), but not nearly as active as making your own cards (which is more akin to activities that lead to 90% retention). With making cards, you are essentially internally rehearsing information (saying) and performing an action by making the card (doing), which leads to the highest retention (see below for the Edgar Dale Cone of Learning for more on this topic).


Additionally, the process of making the kind of cards we recommend forces you to think about what facts you didn't know that lead you to answer the question incorrectly, in turn causing you to reflect on what was really being tested. I've seen time and again how this really helps students in terms of test-taking strategy; students who were previously un-strategic test takers gradually learn to think more and more like the test maker, which is the key to outsmarting the NBME.


In terms of concepts you aren't familiar with, the point is that you become familiar with the topic by making the card (you should cross-reference First Aid in order to make cards). And if you don't ever get a question on a certain topic wrong, you'll never make a flashcard for it because you were sufficiently familiar with it to get questions right. In the end, you end up reviewing far fewer flashcards and having a much more targeted and personalized approach to studying.



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