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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by mehc012, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    There are a LOT of Anki threads popping up in various places. I am by no means an expert, but I have been using it as my primary/only study method for the past year and feel comfortable explaining most of the features. I thought I'd just make a centralized Anki post rather than bouncing between all of the threads and messages I've seen recently concerning it.

    First of all, Why Anki?

    To answer this, we start with

    Why SRS?
    Spaced repetition software (SRS) is awesome. For those of you who don't know what SRS does, here's a brief intro:
    SRS programs such as SuperMemo or Anki schedule your flashcard reviews so that the better you know something, the less frequently it gets asked. Essentially, if you can remember something after 4 days, it waits 8 days before asking the same question. If you get it wrong, you start seeing the card more frequently. This allows you to carry a large number of cards with only a small number of reviews per day. For example, I currently have ~4000 cards in my Anki decks, and I review between 50-100 every day, depending on how many new cards I have added recently. I am sitting at about 97% retention, which is crazy when you consider that some of these cards are from classes I took last year.

    This is the main benefit of studying with an SRS program. It used to drive me crazy that I would learn so much and spend all of this money on courses only to waste it by retaining maybe 50% of it down the line. After reading about how people would study for med school tests, then relearn it all for the Step, then re-learn what they actually needed on the wards, etc., I got very frustrated at the inefficiency and decided to try SRS.

    Wikipedia's vague overview of SRS
    Anki's overview

    Of course, Anki is not the only program to use these SRS algorithms. It's not even the first. Here is a cross post from another thread where I outline why I personally think that Anki specifically is a wonderful study option:

    1) Cross-platform usability
    You can use Anki online or download Anki on PC, Mac, Android, newer Blackberry, or iOS (though iOS Anki is insanely expensive for an app, it's not so much if you consider that it funds the others). Make your cards on the computer, where you have ease of use and computing power, and review them on the go whenever you have the time. Far better than having to access a website on a mobile device. Everything you do in one place is synced perfectly across your others (though if you don't sync at the beginning and end of sessions you will sometimes duplicate your work). Honestly, this is key because if you don't review daily, it's easy to get behind, get overwhelmed, or simply start forgetting more.
    2) Fairly low entry barriers
    This isn't a main one, but it's like Photoshop...if it's too confusing to get started, no one will. Anki has some basic settings so that, when you first decide to use it, it's pretty straightforward. So do the other flashcard programs, so this isn't necessarily an advantage over them, but if it didn't have this it would be at a disadvantage, so I'm including it.
    3) Powerful card creation tools
    OK, so you've been using Anki for a while and want to get fancy. This will take a bit of Googling and a bit of work...but it's worth it. Here you begin to see why it's so important to have a powerful desktop program in addition to the web and the mobile apps. Sure, you can just make a Front/Back card on your phone or online. That's simple enough. But the real power of Anki comes with customization. You can:
    - Make your own custom Note templates: Use a list of one-word answers to generate a slew of fully formatted, properly worded cards. For classes such as Anatomy or anything else which requires learning large amounts of similar information from a table, this makes it easy. Simply design a template which allows you to enter the info straight from the table in your textbook, and let Anki make the actual cards from that information.
    - Make multiple choice cards: OK, so this is a subset of the Note templates, but it's a neat trick. Personally, I tend to avoid MC because active recall is far more useful for long-term learning (and reading MC cards just slows me down - remembering is faster). However, sometimes it is useful to create your own test questions, as it prepares you for the style of questions you will see, and trying to make your own trick questions really gives you an idea of what the prof will be trying to test you on.
    - Image Occlusion: This is a downloadable extension which lets you turn an image - say, a labelled Anatomy diagram or a biochem pathway map - into multiple usable cards. Copy the image, highlight the labels you want to test yourself on, and boom...that one Anatomy plate is now 20+ identification cards.
    - Type your answers: Anki lets you type in your responses and then compares them to the answer field. This helps you keep yourself honest.
    - Format your cards: Make a 'hints' field which is in white text, allowing you to highlight it for a clue. Add an 'explanations' field to your answers without it muddling them up. My personal favorite is to bold any information which is required (aka if I don't recall that piece of info, I get the card wrong). Unformatted text is a judgement call, and italics are fun facts which I find useful or interesting, but which I do not think are necessary. I can always 'pass' a card without recalling the italicized info, though I will not label it as 'easy' without.
    -Try Incremental Reading: A terribly named way of essentially 'banking' large amounts of text to be converted into flashcards'). I have not tried this yet, but am itching to do so.
    - Cloze Deletion: Write one dense, information-packed sentence, then tell Anki to show it to you without key words. Your job is to recall those key facts. This format is also designed to include hints.

    The key is this: Do whatever works for you...and after a little work to set up your template, do it quickly. This is where Anki shines. Include images, text, or audio, and again, have that sync across all platforms.

    4) Custom Study and Cram decks
    A lot of people are used to using flashcards to cram, and when they first start Anki they make 1 of 2 errors. 1, they will make their review count too high because their Due count is low until they generate a lot of cards. 2, they will look to cram for a test, get frustrated that the deck is 'done' after 1 pass-through, and give up. Here's the thing: you can cram without messing up Anki's SRS settings (and without even changing your long-term review dates, if you want). Custom Study decks allow you to review all of your cards 80x in a row if you want (and either have it reschedule the cards or not affect your long-term scheduling). You can study a certain subset of them. You can increase your 'New' card limit for a day if you just added a ton of cards and have the time to crank through them, or just started a deck and have nothing else to do and waiting seems pointless to you. You can increase your 'Review' limit if you've gotten behind, or if you have a lot of time today and want to lighten your load for the next few days. Going out of town this weekend, or have a bunch of exams in the next 3d and don't want to get behind? 'Study Ahead' for 2-3d so that your Anki is out of the way and you can return to it post-vacation/post-exam without any catching up to do. Plus, Anki keeps track of 'Cram' studying separately, so you can see how much you are studying for SRS and how much you are studying for that test - separately. If you make a Cram deck, guess what...it shows up on all of your devices with syncing. This also means that you can set up your favorite Cram settings and just keep them as a separate deck which you 'rebuild' (a button at the bottom) whenever you want to study that way, on any device.
    5) Stats
    What's that, you say? Anki keeps track of things for you? Yup. At any given time you can look at how you are doing on each of your study decks - how many cards do you have? How many more are unseen? How many are young (review due in <20d), mature (due >20d), learning, or unseen? How often do you answer cards in each of those categories correctly? How many reviews do you do each day? Do you do better at certain times of day? How many cards are due tomorrow? How many cards are due every day for the next week? Has your retention increased or decreased in the past month compared to your average for the year? How long do you spend on each card? How long do you spend reviewing each day? How many days do you actually remember to review. As an added incentive, how much less time would you have to spend each day if you actually studied every day like you should? Anki answers all of these questions and more, with graphs, for each individual deck and card category (young, mature, learning).
    6) Customizable SRS options
    This is perhaps the most difficult part of Anki to 'get', but it is really important. You don't have to do it right away - it has taken me a full year to realize what truly works for me - but not having these options would be terrible. For example, I use card creation to learn the information. This means that I do not need or want an extended initial learning period - that just drives me crazy and rockets my Due count through the roof. I also like to keep the information for my current courses very fresh instead of going for long intervals. Anki lets you customize the various aspects of the algorithm to get the system that works for you. It is, however, pretty obtuse as to what each individual change does, so this is likely the very very last thing you will pick up
     
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    #1 mehc012, Apr 6, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    Getting Started with Anki:

    OK, so let's say you read my post up there and decided to give Anki the old college try. What's step 1?

    Download Anki
    OK, OK...that was a gimme. But hey, I said 'Getting Started' so I figured I take it from the top. That link is to ankisrs.net which is the main Anki site. Click the giant 'Download' button in the center of the page and choose your platform.

    Install and open Anki for the first time:
    I'll let you figure out the intermediate steps here - if you can't install a program on your computer by now, you're gonna have a bad time.
    So, the program is open and you have an empty 'Deck' called 'Default'. What to do now?

    Set up a Profile
    You don't have to do this right at the beginning - you'll be prompted to do this the first time that the program tries to sync any cards. However, for simplicity's sake, just start by clicking the little 'refresh'-looking circle in the upper right corner. This is the 'Sync' button. A window will pop up saying 'Account Required'. There is a link in that window to sign up. Follow all instructions....they don't email you any random crap, if you were worried.

    Download a test deck
    In the long run, I find that you get FAR more out of creating your own cards. I have made almost every single one of my 4000 cards myself. However, when you are first setting up, it can be worthwhile to download a pre-made deck just to get used to the system. I would recommend choosing something you already know reasonably well, but need to shore up on details. For example, I began with an Amino Acids deck, because I couldn't quite remember all of the details of structure and abbreviation.
    - Select "Get Shared" - it is the left-most button on the bottom of the screen
    - Browse until you find a deck that looks good. This is a link to my Amino Acids deck if you'd like to try that. It is tagged according to the AAMC's MCAT topics outline
    - Start reviewing. Stick to the default settings for now. This is just to get you used to how everything looks and feels.

    Start creating your own
    - Click 'Create Deck' at the bottom of the screen
    - Click on the newly created deck
    - Click 'Add' at the top of the screen
    - In the window that opens, you will notice a drop down menu at the top left which says 'Type'. I would recommend starting with 'Basic (optional reversed card)'. I don't really understand why they felt the need to have three options when optional covers them all, but whatever.
    - Start filling them out! This part is pretty straightforward.



    Starting tips:

    TAG!! Tagging is possibly the most important thing you can do, and it is especially important at the beginning when you haven't figured out your overall organizational scheme yet. You WILL change your style up several times, and tagging will make this waaay easier. It is always better to overtag than to undertag, as the former is quickly corrected in the Browser, while the latter requires going through all of your cards individually to re-tag them all.

    Make your own cards I know, I know...personal preference. But I always find that making the cards is how I learn the material - it requires me to synthesize all of the information, relate it to other topics, and think about the sorts of questions that could be asked about it. The review and repetition simply serves to solidify it in your head for the long-term.

    Review daily - I have seen several people try to start Anki, get a bit behind, and then just drown. They tend to give up on the program quickly, because let's face it, it sucks to feel constantly behind and then start getting things wrong all of the time. It doesn't feel productive. Honestly, it messes with the SRS, too. If you are supposed to review something after 3d and you wait 20, of course you will be more likely to forget it. How is the program supposed to deal with it then? It knows you remember it after 1d and not after 20. That doesn't give it very much info.

    You can cram - this is the other issue a lot of people have with Anki. They start it, they pump a bunch of cards into it, and then the test hits. They've been keeping up, so their due count is zero, and they can't figure out how to go through all of their cards. Now they're in panic mode and they feel as if they've wasted all of their study time on these cards which they cannot use in crunch time. So, here's the deal: Click the 'Custom Study' button down at the bottom of the deck page. Explore the options. More down below (and up in the middle of this post). Don't panic.
     
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    #2 mehc012, Apr 6, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  3. OP
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    This is where I will hopefully go through Anki 1 feature at a time. For each I hope to include
    Overview
    My Recs
    Questions

    I am pretty busy, so I won't get through all of these today, but I will take any requests for 'next-up'.

    Deck Organization:

    Overview:

    Decks, in Anki, are the only layer of organization which you can actually see. When you first open the program, you are immediately greeted by a list of individual 'Decks'. Some key points:
    - Each Deck has its own New/Review card counts. This means that if your settings allow for 20 New cards and 50 Reviews each day, you could potentially have (20+50)*(total number of decks) cards to study every day.
    - You have to review each deck separately. This isn't a functionality thing, I just hate having to click 8 buttons to do all of my reviews instead of just jumping into a mass of cards, so I try to minimize the number of decks I carry.
    - Each Deck can have its own settings - this includes New and Review counts, but also things such as Ease, Interval, Maximum Interval, etc., which will be explored later.

    Subdecks
    This is worth its own blurb. The way Anki handles subdecks is, frankly, rather terrible. Say you have the following setup:
    BIGdeck (50 due)
    -SubdeckA (30 due)
    -SubdeckB (30 due)
    -SubdeckC (30 due)

    The nice thing is that when you click on BIGdeck, you will study cards from all of the subdecks. It also caps the total number of reviews, helping with that multiplication issue I pointed out earlier. In the above example, each of your subdecks has 30 cards due. If you did all of them, that would be 90 reviews. However, if you simply do your BIGdeck, you will see 50 cards and then be done reviewing.
    Unfortunately, if you try to do this just by clicking 'BIGdeck' and reviewing, you will be shown 30 cards from subdeckA, 20 cards from subdeckB, and none from subdeckC. This is pretty much my biggest issue with Deck organization in Anki.

    My recommendation:
    Keep 1 deck for each of the classes you are currently taking.
    Keep 1 deck for your review subjects. When you finish a class, go through and tag it extensively - fix any inconsistencies or duplicate tags that have shown up throughout the semester. Then tag the entire deck with the name of the course, dump the cards into your Review deck, and delete that class's individual deck.
    Keep 1 deck for side projects. For example, I have a Medical Spanish deck. When I get short on time, I just let this one build up and don't bother reviewing it at all.

    When you start playing with Deck options, you can get fancy and make your Current Course decks have shorter intervals and more frequent reviews than your review deck, and keep a very short Max Interval for them, but that's a different subject.

    Questions?

    Deck Options - New Cards

    Overview:

    This is the real heart of the SRS: the timing of your card learning and reviewing.
    To be honest, I can't add much here that isn't well spelled out in the online User Manual.
    The gist of it is that there are 2 main types of cards: New cards and Review cards. When you open Deck Options, you will get to change a bunch of features which alter how frequently you see those two types of cards. I'll focus on New Cards, as that's really the part with the most immediately visible differences. First, New Cards are cards which you have never seen in Anki yet. Therefore, they are shown to you frequently until they 'graduate' to Review cards.

    Steps: When you are first learning something, you tend to repeat the information frequently until it is drilled into your brain. Steps is Anki's adjustable version of doing just that. Ever practiced a speech or a musical passage and told yourself "OK, I am going to do this 5 times, but if I mess up even once, I have to start my count over." That's Steps. This setting allows you to pick how many times you have to get a card right before you 'know it'...and how long you have to wait in between each recall. By default, those are 1min and 10min. The first time you see a card, if you get it right, you will see it again in 10min. If you get it wrong, you start over again in 1min. (Note: if you select 'Easy' while reviewing it does something different. More on that later.) If you get it right after your 10min interval, it 'graduates' to become a Review card.

    Graduating Interval: When your New card graduates, it has to have an interval assigned to it. By default, this is set at the next day.

    Easy Interval: If at any time in this process you mark a learning card as 'Easy', it becomes a Review card with the interval specified here.

    Starting Ease: This is an annoyingly named feature. It defaults to 250%, which essentially means that your interval will increase by 2.5x every time you mark a card 'correct'. This number changes depending on your review responses, as follows:
    'Wrong' response: Ease decreases by 20 percentage points
    'Hard' response: Ease decreases by 15 percentage points
    'Good' response: Ease unchanged
    'Easy' response: Ease increases by 15 percentage points

    Thus, a card with 250% starting ease that you mark as correct 3x will increase its interval by 2.95x every time you get it right.

    It is important (though a bit confusing) to differentiate this from the "Interval Modifier" you will see under the Review tab...this one affects how Anki calculates your intervals throughout the life of the card and relative to other cards. More details under 'Interval Modifier' in the 'Deck Options - Review Cards' section.

    Those 4 are closely related, so I grouped them together even though Anki has some bizarre organization going on there. Order and New Cards/day are fairly self explanatory.

    Bury Related New Cards until next day: This one is odd. Basically, if you use Notes with multiple cards, say, a Forward/Reverse (or a Cloze or custom template), the program will try to only show you ONE of those cards each day, so you don't spoil yourself. Sometimes this is useful. Sometimes, say, if you make a Note with a lot of information but no spoilers, it's simply annoying. Sometimes you have an exam the next day and spoilers be damned!

    My recommendation:
    I try to make all of my own cards, which makes frequent reviewing unnecessary, as I mostly learn by making, not by reviewing. Also, I tend to binge-make cards, so if I have to review each one after 10min, my learning session becomes hell. So Steps for all decks are short.
    In practice 120min means that I can look at my new cards in the morning, then again either later that day or the next day.
    Other universal setting: I always select
    Show new cards in random order
    because I see no reason to see anything in a fixed order. I like to minimize any cues for my cards other than the information itself. Personal preference.

    Now, the rest of my settings vary by deck. I have 3 Deck Options groups: Current, Review, and SideProject.

    Current Deck Options: High retention goal; I want to learn a lot of cards daily and see them frequently
    Steps (in minutes): 1 120 I can look at my new cards in the morning, then again either later that day or the next day
    New cards/day: 50 Depends on the course and my total schedule/load
    Graduating: 2d
    Easy: 5d
    Starting ease: 250% Default; I don't change this for individual decks (that's for the Interval Modifier)
    Bury related new cards: Yes Depends on subject matter; usually Yes unless I am using a card template where siblings are not spoilers

    Review Deck Options: SRS goal; low load, long-term deck.
    Steps (in minutes): 1 120 This never changes
    New cards/day: 10 I keep the New cards/day low here...you may ask why I have any New cards at all in my Review deck. Turns out, as I said, I do a lot of binge-card making, so sometimes the cards I make for my final exam are still new after the class ends. Also, when class ends I like to sort through my cards and fix/remake any which are unclear or which are only useful for this class, without being generalizable. So I do have new cards in the Review deck, but I would prefer to focus on learning my CURRENT course's new cards.
    Graduating: 3d 50% longer than Current!
    Easy: 7d
    Starting ease: 250%
    Bury Related Cards: Absolutely.

    For my SideProject deck I use the same settings as Review, but I allow more New cards...after all, I only make those when I have the free time!

    Quick note: DO NOT make your total New/Review count (adding ALL of your decks) more than the minimum you are willing to do on your bad days. Also, Learning cards are not considered in either daily count, so keep that in mind...your Learning count will generally be at least as large as your New count, depending on your Learning Steps. If you have a lot of Current decks, consider dropping your Review deck counts to compensate!

    Questions?

    Deck Options - Review Cards

    Maximum reviews/day: Self-explanatory. This should be at LEAST 2x your New card count. Reviews pile up quickly...if you do 50 New cards consistently, you will easily have a Due count of over 100/day after a week or so. You'll probably end up with even more, if you continue adding New cards every day. Don't worry, though...a few days off of adding New cards, or the occasional bolus of extra Reviews and you'll be caught up, with your srs none the worse for the wear! 2x is about right.
    Note: Again, your total daily load should not be more than you will be willing to do on your worst day. It's easy to increase your count when you have the time/energy. However, skipping days is the worst thing you could do for Anki, and it's easy to skip a day entirely if the Due pile is too daunting.

    Easy Bonus: This one seems a bit complex, but it's really fairly straightforward. When you mark a card easy, its interval increases by more than usual (more than its Ease). This is how much more.
    Intervals for normal cards are calculated as (CurrentInterval*Ease*IntervalMod)
    Easy cards are calculated as (CurrentInterval*Ease*IntervalMod*EasyBonus)
    Assume an IntervalMod of 100% (we'll discuss what that is next), Ease 250%.
    If your EasyBonus is 130%, then a card with an interval of 4d would be seen next in:
    (4d*2.5*1) = 10d if you mark 'Good', but
    (4d*2.5*1*1.3) = 13d if you mark 'Easy'!

    Interval Modifier: This one is a bit complicated. Well, the implementation is straightforward: as I showed above, each interval is calculated as (CurrentInterval*Ease*IntervalMod), *EasyBonus if you mark it 'Easy'.

    You'll note that the Interval modifier is, at default, 100%...so it does nothing. However, if you increase it, you will see cards less frequently (more spaced out, larger intervals) and if you decrease it, you'll see it more frequently (smaller intervals). Why would you do this? Well, say you have one topic you want to learn extremely thoroughly, or that you find generally harder, etc...you could decrease the IntervalMod to see it more. I use a smaller IntervalMod on my 'Current' deck options because I want to learn those cards very well.

    Within a given deck, the effect of decreasing IntervalMod vs StartingEase is equivalent...so when to do which? Well, IntervalMod only affects cards that are currently in this deck, whereas StartingEase only affects cards learned in this deck, but has a permanent effect on the calculations of intervals throughout the lifetime of the card, no matter which deck you move it into. Once you learn a card, changing StartingEase in the deck options, or switching it to a lower-priority deck, will not get you back that extra 15% in interval calculations. So, generally, you should pick your Starting Ease based on what works for you overall (i.e. should probably be the same for all decks) and use IntervalMod to adjust individual decks for whatever specific goals you have.

    One such goal is retention rate...Anki gives a formula in their manual which you can use to adjust the IntervalMod based on your current retention rate (how well you perform on mature cards) vs your desired goal retention rate. That is fine, though you'll probably get more bang for your buck if you make your Learning steps more robust or fine tune your deck to improve vague/shoddy cards.

    Maximum Interval: Phew! Another self-explanatory one! Default for this is 100 years, but I like to bring it down to the 3-5yr range. Still experimenting with this. Note: set in days, which can be confusing.

    My recommendations:

    Current Deck Options:
    High retention goal; I want to learn a lot of cards daily and see them frequently
    Maximum reviews/day: 100 This is 2x my New card count
    Easy bonus: 130% This is standard, I wouldn't decrease it, and I didn't increase it for my high-retention priority decks
    Interval Modifier: 85% I emphasize retention in these decks...an IM<100% means more frequent reviews
    Maximum Interval: 1500 100yrs seemed insane to me...this is about 3.5-4yrs, guesstimation-style

    Review Deck Options: SRS goal; low load, long-term deck.
    Maximum reviews/day: 85-100 (depending on how busy the rest of my life is) In this deck, I used my average cards/min from the stats window to give myself a short daily session.
    Easy bonus: 130% This is standard, I may consider increasing it
    Interval Modifier: 100% Once a card gets moved to my Review deck, its intervals grow normally. I may actually increase this because my retention is so good, but the reviews are not a burden currently, so no need.
    Maximum Interval: 1500 100yrs seemed insane to me...this is about 3.5-4yrs, guesstimation-style

    Questions?

    Deck Options - Lapses

    Overview:
    Anytime you Lapse a card - aka miss a Review card - it is an indication that you need to relearn the information, and that your previous interval was too long. The Lapse settings are where you fine-tune this process.

    Steps (in minutes): Much like the original learning steps, these are your Relearning steps.

    New Interval: Once you relearn the card, you probably don't want or need to restart back with the standard graduating interval. After all, you remembered the information for the previous interval, and you *just* relearned it! This setting is how much you decrease the interval from its prior value after forgetting and relearning it. It's basically like the opposite of the Easy Bonus. The interval for a relearned card will be
    (CurrentInterval*NewInterval) (I'm not sure about Interval Modifier here).

    Minimum Interval: It would suck to end up with a few hours interval because you missed a card after 3d, wouldn't it? This setting prevents such things.

    Leech Threshold: A 'Leech' is a card that you've missed too many times. How many is too many? That's what the Leech Threshold lets you decide!

    Leech Action: A leech is probably a badly made card - something vague, for example - so Anki takes some sort of action (the 'Leech action') to notify you of this...it can either flag it as a leech, or it can flag it and suspend it; seeing the card repeatedly clearly isn't helping you anyway, so why bother? The tag allows you to go through every once and a while and fix/purge any cards in your deck that just aren't working for you.

    My recommendations:

    Current Deck Options: High retention goal; I want to learn a lot of cards daily and see them frequently
    Steps (in minutes): 1 120 Relearning steps same as my Learning steps...after all, I DID learn it at one point
    New Interval: 30% The standard Ease is 250%, or a 2.5x increase for each interval. 1/2.5 is 0.4, which to me should be the ballpark for the standard 'New Interval' (ballpark because a lot of other factors alter your prior interval)...after all, you got it right the interval before, right? Since this is my high-retention-goal deck, I want to see Lapsed cards even more frequently than that!
    Leech Threshold: 8 Standard
    Leech Action: Tag only I'm lazy...trust me, I'm far more likely to edit a card if it keeps popping up in review than if I suspend it.

    Review Deck Options: SRS goal; low load, long-term deck.
    Steps (in minutes): 1 120 Relearning steps same as my Learning steps...after all, I DID learn it at one point
    New Interval: 40% The standard Ease is 250%, or a 2.5x increase for each interval. 1/2.5 is 0.4, which to me should be the ballpark for the standard 'New Interval' (ballpark because a lot of other factors alter your prior interval)...after all, you got it right the interval before, right?
    Leech Threshold: 8 Standard
    Leech Action: Tag only I'm lazy...trust me, I'm far more likely to edit a card if it keeps popping up in review than if I suspend it.

    Questions?

    Custom Study - Increase New/Review Card Limit, Unbury
    Overview:
    Custom Study tools can be accessed from the main page of an individual deck (the one with New and Review counts that shows up when you click on the Deck's name from the home page). At the bottom of the deck's main page, you will see a button that says Custom Study.
    This will bring up a menu that will allow you to study the cards in your deck in a variety of different ways, depending on the requirements of your current study session.

    In this section, I will cover the options which change the cards you see directly in your current deck. My next section will cover the options for creating a separate Custom Study deck for either extra review (including cramming) or reviewing ahead.

    Increase New/Review Count: Yes, I know these are listed as two separate features, but really...these are pretty self explanatory. I have recommended, multiple times, that you set your New/Review counts to equal the number you would be able to do on your worst day. Hopefully, every day is not your worst day, and you have the time/mental fortitude remaining to tackle even more cards! This is how you do that.
    When you select this in the Custom Study menu, it will show you how many of that card type remains in your deck. You can then choose how much you want to increase your limit by. It's that simple!
    Note: I haven't found a way to decrease this limit once I bump it up, so if you're unsure about how many you can get through today, do it in batches!

    Unbury: This isn't really a Custom Study feature, but it comes up often when people are trying to review, so I'll include it here.
    Remember when we discussed the "Bury related cards" feature? Well, what happens when you are trying to work through your review backlog and Anki keeps hiding those siblings from you even though you no longer want it to? You hit Unbury! This button is found next to the Custom Study button, at the bottom of a deck's main page. Use with discretion...you buried siblings for a reason!

    My recommendations:
    I like to increase my Review limit first, if there are any backlogged Due cards. Once (if) I work through all of those, then I consider taking on additional New cards. Remember, New cards have multiple Learning steps, so keep that in mind when budgeting your time!

    I usually don't unbury, unless I'm coming up on an exam and want to make sure I see everything pending before I start Cramming!


    Upcoming Feature Explanations:

    Custom Study - Study By... and Deck Options

    Browser: Search Functions

    Browser: Moving/Rescheduling/(De)Tagging Cards

    Tagging: Tips and Suggestions
     
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    #3 mehc012, Apr 6, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  4. OP
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    mehc012

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    FAQ:

    I am wondering if there's a way to make sure that all my flashcards are saved safely?

    Anki saves 30 backups of your decks by default. In Windows they are saved in the folder 'Anki' under 'My Documents'.
    Select 'Tools'/'Preferences' (or hit Ctrl+P). That will allow you to set how many backups are saved and to open the Backup Folder.
    However, to backup your Media, you have to manually Export your decks, making sure that you check 'Include Media'
    Since AnkiDroid also saves backups AND they're all online, I think one backup with media whenever you add a large number of pic/audio containing clips should be more than enough.

    I downloaded a large premade deck. How should I go about reviewing it?

    I have an exam coming up and need to go through a premade deck QUICKLY. What settings should I use?

    How do I decide what New/Review daily counts to use?
     
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    #4 mehc012, Apr 6, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
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  5. Boolean

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    FireCracker (formerly gunnertraining) uses this same concept with their online USMLE Step 1 and MCAT review site/software. If you keep up with it, it can be incredibly beneficial. I recommend Anki to anyone really wanting an efficient and high yield way to study.
     
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  6. amazing tekkers

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    I'm struggling to create flash cards with the system.

    I tried importing some ochem from Ankiweb but the topics are not relevant with what I'm learning in class. I guess I'll continue to struggle with it.

    What sorts of courses do you guys use it for?
     
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  7. orangeman25

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    This is amazing. Thank you so much. Haven't read it all yet but just wanted to post a thank you before reading!
     
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  8. Boolean

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    Immuno, Orgo (reactions), Bio, Anatomy
     
  9. DAH!! I was going to start this thread first..Lol, but thanks for your contribution.

    I am wondering if there's a way to make sure that all my flashcards are saved safely. I know that Anki saves them automatically, but I just want to be extra-safe, and create a back up. Is there an Anki folder that physically lists all the cards that you made?
     
  10. Boolean

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    What operating system are you using? The program Anki saves its data to the Documents folder on OSX, and I'm sure it saves it in a similar location on Linux and Windows.
     
  11. I am using Windows 7.
     
  12. Boolean

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    You should be able to search for a .anki file and find the save location.
     
  13. Pacna

    Pacna Dyslexics, untie!
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    I was looking at that as well. Is there any benefit to using BOTH Anki and FC? Or would that be incredibly redundant?
     
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  14. OP
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    If you go into preferences and select the Backups tab, there is a link to Show Backups Folder
     
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    mehc012

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    Personally, I find the most benefit comes from the actual making of the cards, so I hope to be able to stick with Anki itself.
     
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  16. Boolean

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    Seconded on @mehc012. FC is just nice because it's 30,000 cards you didn't have before.
     
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    I've been trying to make cards as I go along in my courses - mainly Physics and Physio, as I finished my other prereqs before beginning Anki. I tagged according to the AAMC topic outline as I went. There is a lot I did not cover, because I did not start with Anki soon enough, but the real purpose of this is to become proficient in Anki so that I can hopefully do it right the 2nd time around!
     
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  18. Boolean

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    I tend to make Anki cards of points that are brought up during lecture. It makes for some really amazing studying by the time tests roll around.
     
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  19. Being

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    I would be interested to know how you have your intervals set up, and also if/how you use it for the more math-based classes.
     
  20. Boolean

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    In regards to math based classes, a bit less. It's a bit difficult to use with some math based classes other than formulae. In regards to intervals, really depends on what I'm trying to study.
     
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    On the math front, I primarily use it to recall values and shortcuts for mental math. I haven't taken many math courses since finishing out Calc and Discrete
     
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  22. Pacna

    Pacna Dyslexics, untie!
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    Oh I didn't realize FC was all premade cards. As far as I can tell, it seems like going over the FC cards would be beneficial but ultimately there would be time constraints. How long does going through, say, 200 cards take?

    And thank you so much for making this thread! Very helpful!! :)
     
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    Depends on how quickly you take the cards, I suppose. I try to make my cards short and quick to answer (though I do have some long ones I have to talk myself through), so my average time/card is 6.6s
    That would make 200 cards ~20min or so.
     
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  24. Mt Kilimanjaro

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    @mehc012 - Thanks for posting! This is awesome.

    Can you list out the steps for image occlusion? I haven't been able to get it to work on an image like Krebs cycle with several different terms that I want to test one at a time.
     
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  25. meander

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    Thanks for starting this thread, I am new to Anki but can tell how valuable it is in the past few days of playing around with it.

    Is there a way to leverage the stats in Anki (or perhaps Anki already calculates this...) to determine how long it will take you to learn a deck? For example, let's say I've been studying a deck for the past three days; based on my performance thus far, can Anki predict when I'll have the entire thing learned?
     
  26. OP
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    mehc012

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    I mean, it tells you how many cards are left to be learned and how many have been learned thus far. If you've learned 50 cards in 3d and have 250 left, you can ballpark it at another 15d + a few for stragglers.
     
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  27. type12

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    When you get advanced enough, you can adjust the algorithm to match your learning pattern.

    For math, LaTeX is your friend. If you never learned LaTeX, then codecogs has a nice little tool for you to learn it with. It's priceless. Anki comes with it pre-installed.

    It's uses are varied for mathematics. You have to be clearer what field. If you are trying to get experience, then cloze deletion is your friend. If you are doing geometry, then multi-sided cards are your friend.

    I have successfully used Anki to learn 2 languages and in my economic courses. SRS can be adapted to anything. The trick is getting discrete packets of knowledge properly in the thing.
     
  28. OP
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    mehc012

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    I know what you mean, but :roflcopter:
     
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  29. lovemango

    lovemango Wreck 'Em
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    I've been using both in med school (Anki since beginning of med school and FC this January); I'm currently an MSI. I make flashcards via Anki from lecture powerpoints/notes and use FC to review old content + flag topics for things I'm currently learning in class. It's been a great combination so far, my exam score went up once I started using both, but it's definitely time consuming and it's not suited to everyone's learning style. Once you start med school, you will hopefully figure out quickly what works for you. In undergrad, I handwrote all my notes and then reviewed a second time highlighting important things and making annotations, but I just didn't have enough time for that in med school. Some of my classmates still use this method, but I really like Anki.
     
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  30. Pacna

    Pacna Dyslexics, untie!
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    Thanks for replying. That sounds like how I studied in UG, and I was worried about time constraints.

    How do you organize your decks, and how often do you study them? (I haven't used Anki academically yet, so my apologies if this is a stupid question)

    Also, please tell us more about FC. I think most of us are aware that it's flashcards and that's it. How well do they jive with what's being studied in class, etc?
     
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  31. lovemango

    lovemango Wreck 'Em
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    I make a new deck for each exam (each module at my school has 2 exams - 1 midterm + 1 final) and tag cards by lecture #. I try to study everyday if possible, but once an exam is over, I don't go back to the deck. So I use Anki for short-term/exam review and Firecracker for long-term review (although I'm still flagging topics now as we learn them in class in FC). My school is pretty good about teaching what's relevant for Step and clinical knowledge, not too much extra stuff from the PhDs, so FC's topics usually align pretty well with what I'm learning. Actually, FC often has more info than what I learned in class, actually, but it's stuff pulled from First Aid/Pathoma/Robbins so I just learn it anyways.

    There's a whole thread about FC over in the Step I forum if you want to learn more about it:
    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/firecracker.929275/
     
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  32. type12

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    Wow, firecracker is expensive. He must be making a killing with it.

    The price does not justify the value. The only value I see there are the custom questions, but you can get those anywhere. Not only is the learning algorithm unchanged, but the GUI is terrible. There are no keyboard shortcuts. Who uses a mouse? The efficiency of SRS and the time navigating a locked site do not work well together.

    Use the $399 and spend it on a ton of questions. Then embrace the customizability of something like Anki. It doesn't have to be Anki even, because there are other, free/affordable SRS out there.
     
  33. OP
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    mehc012

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    Is it mousebased? That's too bad. I avoid mouse-only programs and games like the plague.
     
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  34. lovemango

    lovemango Wreck 'Em
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    That's not true, I use FC (and Anki) with keyboard shortcuts (I hate using a mouse since it's slower and it interrupts my flow). You can use keyboard shortcuts on either Mac/PC, and PC users have the additional option of hotkeys. There's also coupons/discount codes out there for FC, I definitely did not pay $399 for a year.

    [​IMG]
     
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    mehc012

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    I'm starting...I have my New Card info up! Review to come...
     
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  36. CollegeGirl94

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    I just started using it and I'm a little confused, hope I get the hang of it. :)
     
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  37. AlbinoHawk DO

    AlbinoHawk DO PeeGeeWai Osteopath
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    I felt that way the first day. Go to YouTube and type "Anki for Medical School." There are a few people that explain to you step by step how to make the different cards and make them so you can study the different subjects.
     
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  38. orangeman25

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    Anyone else having difficulty with the new Anki update? I usually copy and paste figures/diagrams from my lecture ppts onto my Anki flashcards. But with this new update I haven't been able to. I now have to save the picture and then upload it on Anki, which takes longer. Anyone else facing this?
     
  39. CollegeGirl94

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    Will do. Thanks!
     
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  40. type12

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    Which OS? Damien is very quick to respond, so you should probably ping him either by email or on the Google Forums.
     
  41. mcloaf

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    As someone not in medical school you have pretty much zero insight on whether or not the price is worth it. I don't blame you though, I never would have considered something like FC reasonable before med school. Time is precious in medical school and for plenty of us the time saved by not dealing with making our own flashcards justifies the price.

    I agree that it's expensive and probably overkill for a lot of people. There are (of course) keyboard shortcuts as already pointed out. Also keep in mind that many students are able to negotiate bundled prices as a group so a lot of us are not paying the sticker price.

    Carry on.
     
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  42. IncognitoGuy

    IncognitoGuy life of leisure
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    Cloze Deletions saved my life.
     
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    mehc012

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    I am just beginning to pick up Clozing. I was not a huge fan at the beginning, but now that I've made customizable Cloze card with typing and whatnot, I'm converting!
     
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  44. type12

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    While I disagree with the notion that since I am not a grandmaster chef that my "insight" into kitchen knives is zero, I would argue this is more about education and learning than medical school. Unfortunately, despite how hard it tries to pretend to be something else, medical school is still a school and bound by the rules that govern all education. This means learning and memory do play a role.

    I do sympathize with the elite idea that medical school is like nothing else, of course, and apologize that this delusion is not a reality. It does not make the people who undergo the medical rigor any less special.

    More directly on this topic, it sounds more like you are speaking from a position of less experience, as your statements imply you have not had much experience or exposure to any SRS tools beyond FC. With that in mind, I do recommend you read up on SM2 algorithms, Anki, and the software that caused SRS to blow up, SM. There are of course sites like StudyBlue as well, but all of these share one idea: you do the work of creating the memory sets, which itself enhances recall. FC appears to strip a significant part of this aspect, though not entirely. It appears to add very little to the mix. So, free for something superior does make FC's price seem absurd.

    I do apologize if this is not the case, but your immediate dismissal of my statement because my background (i.e., ad hominem) rather than my points makes it appear you are not so interested in the content of what I say, but instead my identity.
     
    #44 type12, Apr 13, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
  45. mcloaf

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    My statement that you are not in medical school isn't an ad hominem, it's a fact that is relevant to your interpretation of FC. I generally refrain from all of the "premeds will never understand medical school" shenanigans because I agree that a lot of it is bull **** (though in spite of your condescending apology about delusions, you really have no clue either way), but I bring it up here because (as I pointed out clearly) my own opinions on study materials and methods have changed quite a bit since school began. This is something that's common among most students when they start medical school, and I imagine most other types of graduate school as well. What was the best approach in undergrad may not always work in medical school.

    I don't disagree that there are other, better (probably much better) systems available that stick much more closely to the tenets of what works best for spaced repetition learning. I also agree that making the flashcards yourself is a better way to learn. Ultimately though this doesn't matter to me for the reasons I mentioned in my first post: time and content. You're not paying for an ideal SRS system when you pay for FC, you're paying for a huge bank of ready made cards that draw from a big pool of the most popular Step 1 resources coupled to a rudimentary spaced-repetition algorithm. Because it's drawn from boards material it does a good job bringing into focus what's relevant and what's not as far as what you get in lecture, which can be a huge help. I couldn't tell you the exact number of extra points I've gotten on exams this year based on info included in FC that I wouldn't have thought to include in flashcards that I was making myself, but it's not insignificant and to me that alone has justified the cost this year. I'm not arguing that the SRS aspects of FC are ideal, I'm simply pointing out that a lot of us in medical school are willing to sacrifice some elements that would maximize the spaced-repetition approach in the name of saving a boatload of time making our own flashcards every day and benefiting from having indirect access to a number of other study resources. There are of course plenty of people in medical school who either prefer to make their own flashcards using Anki or just don't want to pay for FC. My contention is not that one approach is right or wrong or better, it's simply that your evaluation of FC misses the mark because you don't understand the motivations of a lot of people who use it.

    I doubt anything I say is going to change your mind about FC, which is fine, but I do hope I've articulated why some of us in medical school choose to use it and added a little bit more to the discussion than your initial analysis above.
     
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  46. mulberry

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    #46 mulberry, Apr 13, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
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    mehc012

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  48. mulberry

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    When you've been studying all day for shelf exams and don't feel like reading a giant wall of text, videos are wonderful. Also, there's something called volume and speed control (yes, you can control the speed of youtube videos now).
     
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  49. Pacna

    Pacna Dyslexics, untie!
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    Grandpa! I'm glad you learned how to log on. ;)
     
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    mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero
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    Medical Student
    I don't like listening to videos when other people are in the room. It's rude. So then I have to dig out headphones, only I kind of find those rude when people are around too. Plus, I don't care how much speed control you add in, I can read a block of text 8x faster than I can watch a video. Reading is the fastest way for anything to enter my brain. Besides, I have Comcast, and they suck...videos take too long to load and are often glitchy. Finally, I think that websites/tutorials which only provide video options are annoying.
    I have some YouTube channels I follow...but that's in like, dedicated video time. If I'm trying to look something up, any link with video only gets closed.
     
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