How to use Anki for Medical School: The Ultimate Guide 2021

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Do you know the two best methods of remembering everything? Yes, it is active recall and spaced repetition. Anki is an app that integrates both of these methods into a single app. This app can be beneficial for medical school students. So let us take a deep dive and learn how to use Anki for medical school.

 The life of a medical school student is not that easy. He has to sacrifice hours of sleep, fancy late-night parties, quality time with family only to maintain his academic performance. You would not need to sacrifice any of these if only you could memorize faster and remember more. What if you could upload data to your brain just like you do on social media? By the end of this article, you will be able to effectively use this app, which will help you study like a superhuman.

What is Anki?

Anki is a flashcard app with a straightforward interface. The interface of Anki might seem like it is an old-school app, but its functionality is remarkable. Active recall and Spaced repetition have been the best techniques for studying and revising to date, and Anki does an excellent job integrating these two techniques perfectly. 

Using Anki to get the motivation to study

Anki Basic Use:

You can create your flashcard decks based on the different subjects you are trying to learn. You revise them just like a physical flashcard with a question at the front and an answer at the back. After answering a question, you click to ” Show answer,” which provides you three options to choose from; again, easy and hard. The flashcard has its algorithm to test you in different intervals based on these options.

Three options for using anki for medical school

You can also share your deck with anyone you like. This is an excellent feature because it lets you practice these flashcards with your friends. Besides, you can also study premade decks prepared by people around the world.

4 type of cards for medical school students

As we have gone through the basics, you now have an idea about how Anki Anki works. But although Anki is a flashcard app, it can do much more than that. You can create various types of cards with it according to your needs and wishes.

Here are the four types of Anki cards that medical students use for memorization and studying.  

Basic card:

It is possibly the most used card. The basic card has a front and a back for questions and answers, respectively. This is used for learning an answer to a specific question. For example:

Q: Which nerve innervates the biceps muscle? (At the front)

Ans: Musculocutaneos Nerve (At the back)

You can also add pictures to the answer for better understanding. Adding photographs or mnemonics will help you to co-relate quickly.

How to use Anki for medical school - Basic Card

Reverse Card:

These cards are similar to Basic Cards. But this type of card will test you on both the front and the back of a particular card. It means that your questions will be bidirectional. This card is less used in medicine but still may be helpful in specific cases.

For example :

Front: What is the hallmark of Tuberculosis?

Back: Caseous necrosis ( cheesy like appearance )

How to use Anki for medical school - Reverse Card
How to use Anki for medical school - Reverse Card

Now you can study this information both ways. If you see “what is the hallmark of tuberculosis ?’ Your answer would be Caseous necrosis. Again if you see ” Caseous necrosis,” you should recall that it is the hallmark of Tuberculosis. 

This card is worthwhile because sometimes we cannot find a correct answer when specific details of a question have changed. As a medical student, you should be able to recall both ways. Even when you see the word “Caseous necrosis” singly, the disease that should come to your mind is Tuberculosis. 

Cloze Deletion:

This type of card is very popular in medicine. Cloze Deletion is very useful in learning specific information in a sentence or a text. You can use multiple blanks to recall multiple details at once within a particular sentence. You can also provide hints within the deletions for better remembering.

For example:

The sympathetic outflow occurs from ( Hint: Thoracolumber) portions of the spinal cord.

Answer: T1-L2

How to use Anki for medical school -Cloze deletion Card
How to use Anki for medical school -Cloze deletion Card

You should use this card for remembering any numbers/percentages/ dates or similar information. But any kind of information is welcome. Cloze deletions are potent cards because they help to memorize 3-4 pieces of information in a single sentence. 

Image occlusion:

This card is not so popular, but if you want to use Anki effectively, this can be your trump card. Image occlusions are best for learning anatomy. You can even use these cards for learning diagrams, flowcharts, different biochemical processes, and more. 

For example: Take a look at the following pictures

How to use Anki for medical school - Image Occlusion Card
How to use Anki for medical school - Image Occlusion Card

Some pieces of information are hidden for recalling by looking at the picture. This card gives a great idea about the anatomy of the human body as you can visualize various muscles, ligaments, and organs of the body. 

Some extra tips for using Anki in medical school

Now you know how to make different forms of cards and where to use them. Here are some extra tips which will help you to use Anki for your medical school.

  • Do not make a flashcard about everything. You don’t have to make flashcards about things you already know. If you start making flashcards about everything, you will probably be overwhelmed seeing the number of cards in your decks.
  • Be consistent. If you are using Anki for medical school, you have to stay consistent. There is simply no alternative to that.
  • Try to use the minimum information philosophy. Do not dump too big of answers in a single flashcard. Try to avoid writing paragraphs in your cards.
  • Use tags for every card. This helps you better categorize when you are doing custom study sessions.
  • Make your deck. Premade decks are great, but sometimes, you might be overwhelmed if you are only trying to learn these premade decks. Use these premade decks (best-premade decks)

Best settings for Anki for medical school

Now, this part is a little tricky. If you are a complete newbie, I would suggest you not bother changing the settings and keep the settings to default.

This is my recommended settings:

For New cards:

  •  Steps : 60 1440 5760 14440
  • Order: Show in random order
  • New cards / day : 10 
  • Graduating interval: 10 days
  • Easy interval: 7 day
  • Starting ease: Default


  • Maximum Reviews: 9999
  • Maximum interval: 360
  • Other settings can remain in default


  • Steps : 60 1440 5760 14400
  • New interval: 20%
  • Others can remain in default

I found that this was the best setting for Anki for any medical school student. If you want to learn more about what these mean, take a look at this article here. Do not waste too much time in settings. The default settings do a pretty good job. You can also use the above settings if you wish to trust me.

Anki vs Quizlet

This is one of the most common questions of every medical student. Which should you choose? Which one is better?

Let me give you a complete comparison:

Anki vs Quizlet

Quizlet is better than Anki because of :

  • Interface
  • Gamification
  • Other forms of testing and learning

Anki is better than Quizlet because :

  • Has spaced repetition algorithm
  • Extensive collection of premade decks
  • Image occlusion feature

Although there are good and bad sides to both of them, I would still suggest Anki for medical school because it focuses more on learning than aesthetics. If you are a primary school student, you should instead go with Quizlet. 


Anki is by far the most productive and helpful app for students. If you can effectively use Anki for medical school, you will become one of the top-scoring students in no time. It will help you to memorize faster and retain more  Keep the tips in mind and try to experiment with different types of cards. Do not be overwhelmed by the settings menu, as it is sort of complicated. 

I hope this article has given you an insight into how and why to use Anki for medical school. Best of luck!


NB: There could be some affiliate links on this blog post. If you take any action or buy any service through these links, my website is supported without any extra cost for you. Thanks to anyone who supports this website anyway. 

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