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Would this be an effective method for studying and taking notes in medical school?

Prince_Avocado

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Jun 29, 2019
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Hello everyone!

I'm an incoming medical student and I'm excited to start medical school in a few months! I've been looking into methods for studying in medical school and Anki seems to be the most popular. Unfortunately, I'm not the biggest fan of Anki. I've tried to use Anki in the past for the MCAT and it wasn't really effective for me.

In college, I would create notes that only contained information that was essential to the class I was taking. I would also reference materials from other textbooks and supplement them to my notes if necessary. Usually, I am able to condense about 5 to 10 pages worth of materials into a page. By the time I finishing creating my notes, I would retain about 50% of the information. I would then study my notes for a few hours every day until it was time for the exam.

This method worked quite well for me as I got A's and B's in all my classes. However, I'm concerned that this method would be insufficient in medical school. It is somewhat time consuming to create my notes and I am worried that I will be overwhelmed with the material.

Do you think this would be a good method for taking notes or should I try something else? I would greatly appreciate any feedback!

As an example of how I create my notes, here is a page from my MCAT notes for physics.
0001.jpg
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Probably works for some people. In my first module I was doing something similar. I took each lecture and distilled it down to a page. Two at the most if it was one of those 115 slide lectures. It gave me an extra layer of memorization because I’m very visuospatial, and I could remember what was on which part of each page.

The problem is it took absolutely forever to distill each lecture down, and I was spending so much time doing that that I didn’t have any time to review them or do anything else. And that was before we started anatomy lab.

If it worked for you in undergrad, try it. But the key to studying in med school is adaptability. If it’s taking up a lot of time or doesn’t seem to be working, you have to switch things up before you get so far behind that you can’t catch up.
 
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Appropriate-doc

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This may work depending on how fast you learn, but it won't be maximally efficient. Use evidence-based study techniques for maximal efficiency. That means spaced repetition and active recall and interleaving. It doesn't have to be Anki, as there are lot of other ways to practice those principles. Anki just happens to be very effective at implementing those techs. But the evidence is clear that active recall > reading and highlighting and re-reading.

How did you use Anki? In my experience, when people say that Anki didn't work for them it's often because they didn't use it right (eg spending too much time on one card, making long complex cards, not doing all the reviews everyday, poorly worded cards, using it as a replacement for broad conceptual understanding, etc.). I used it for a while and then dropped it because it wasn't working for me. But I saw enough hype and instructions to convince me to give it another try with some changes and I'm very glad I did. I know a lot of people who had a similar pattern of initially disliking it, but sticking with it and eventually becoming Anki fanatics. It's not about Anki itself, it's about the evidence-based principles. There are plenty of high-scorers that didn't use Anki, but they definitely used the principles in one way or another.

I liken evidence-based study techniques to touch-typing (typing with home-row keys). When you first start learning, it'll be slower than your initial hunt-and-peck style, but that's just because it's new to you. As you become more familiar with it, your efficiency will surpass the initial style.

I highly recommend the book: Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning for more info on evidence-based study techniques. Here's a good summary: Make it Stick The Science of Successful Learning | livelikepros

As is often the case in science, our intuition about what works misleads us.
 
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Prince_Avocado

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Jun 29, 2019
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This may work depending on how fast you learn, but it won't be maximally efficient. Use evidence-based study techniques for maximal efficiency. That means spaced repetition and active recall and interleaving. It doesn't have to be Anki, as there are lot of other ways to practice those principles. Anki just happens to be very effective at implementing those techs. But the evidence is clear that active recall > reading and highlighting and re-reading.

How did you use Anki? In my experience, when people say that Anki didn't work for them it's often because they didn't use it right (eg spending too much time on one card, making long complex cards, not doing all the reviews everyday, poorly worded cards, using it as a replacement for broad conceptual understanding, etc.). I used it for a while and then dropped it because it wasn't working for me. But I saw enough hype and instructions to convince me to give it another try with some changes and I'm very glad I did. I know a lot of people who had a similar pattern of initially disliking it, but sticking with it and eventually becoming Anki fanatics. It's not about Anki itself, it's about the evidence-based principles. There are plenty of high-scorers that didn't use Anki, but they definitely used the principles in one way or another.

I liken evidence-based study techniques to touch-typing (typing with home-row keys). When you first start learning, it'll be slower than your initial hunt-and-peck style, but that's just because it's new to you. As you become more familiar with it, your efficiency will surpass the initial style.

I highly recommend the book: Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning for more info on evidence-based study techniques. Here's a good summary: Make it Stick The Science of Successful Learning | livelikepros

As is often the case in science, our intuition about what works misleads us.
I was spending way too much time making cards on Anki. That is what turned me away from it. My cards weren't poorly worded, but some of them were definitely quite long. I'm willing to give it another chance though! Is there a resource you would recommend that shows how to properly utilize Anki. Also, I will look into the book you recommended!
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I was spending way too much time making cards on Anki. That is what turned me away from it. My cards weren't poorly worded, but some of them were definitely quite long. I'm willing to give it another chance though! Is there a resource you would recommend that shows how to properly utilize Anki. Also, I will look into the book you recommended!

Good news. You basically don’t have to make cards in med school because zanki is a thing.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Do you guys recommend the anking deck?

It’s basically just zanki with some extra stuff and hierarchical tags I think. I just use regular zanki but lots of people use anking. As long as you’re getting zanki you’re good.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Which micro deck are you talking about? Pepper? And nope, I don't believe in FC lol.

Yeah I use pepper. You don’t believe in it? I mean I’ve seen it. I can assure you it’s real.

Our school got us 60-day free trials and I’m not sure if it’s worth the time.
 

slowthai

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Yeah I use pepper. You don’t believe in it? I mean I’ve seen it. I can assure you it’s real.

Our school got us 60-day free trials and I’m not sure if it’s worth the time.

What do you use for pharm?

I've heard mostly negative reviews of FC. It's very expensive, lacks customizability, its algorithm is inferior, etc. To be fair, I've heard of people breaking 250/60 with FC, but it's so rare compared to those from using Zanki or even Lightyear. It's not a proven resource imo. If I was given FC (for free lol), its best use would be as a reference because it has extremely high quality information.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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What do you use for pharm?

I've heard mostly negative reviews of FC. It's very expensive, lacks customizability, its algorithm is inferior, etc. To be fair, I've heard of people breaking 250/60 with FC, but it's so rare compared to those from using Zanki or even Lightyear. It's not a proven resource imo. If I was given FC (for free lol), its best use would be as a reference because it has extremely high quality information.

Gotcha. Not worth the money then. I’ll stick to zanki. For pharm it has depended on the block. For CPR and MSK I used the pepper deck. For neuro I used our school’s deck. I’ll probably end up using pepper for this module (GI).
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Sorry to hijack your thread OP lol.

But yeah give anki another shot. Get zanki and see how that works for you. I have zanki and osmosis and I upload my lecture powerpoints into osmosis and I make a handful of cards that cover the stuff my school seems to be footstomping for the faculty exams and then I just crush zanki every day.
 
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Appropriate-doc

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Apr 27, 2020
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I was spending way too much time making cards on Anki. That is what turned me away from it. My cards weren't poorly worded, but some of them were definitely quite long. I'm willing to give it another chance though! Is there a resource you would recommend that shows how to properly utilize Anki. Also, I will look into the book you recommended!

Fortunately, there are lots of great pre-made decks to use. Although I'd still recommend making your own cards as well as editing pre-made cards to tailor your deck to your specific needs. I like the anki tips from med school insiders, although I mostly got better at anki through using it. These are good tips for making your own cards:
 
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JSD2

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Jul 2, 2019
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This may work depending on how fast you learn, but it won't be maximally efficient. Use evidence-based study techniques for maximal efficiency. That means spaced repetition and active recall and interleaving. It doesn't have to be Anki, as there are lot of other ways to practice those principles. Anki just happens to be very effective at implementing those techs. But the evidence is clear that active recall > reading and highlighting and re-reading.

How did you use Anki? In my experience, when people say that Anki didn't work for them it's often because they didn't use it right (eg spending too much time on one card, making long complex cards, not doing all the reviews everyday, poorly worded cards, using it as a replacement for broad conceptual understanding, etc.). I used it for a while and then dropped it because it wasn't working for me. But I saw enough hype and instructions to convince me to give it another try with some changes and I'm very glad I did. I know a lot of people who had a similar pattern of initially disliking it, but sticking with it and eventually becoming Anki fanatics. It's not about Anki itself, it's about the evidence-based principles. There are plenty of high-scorers that didn't use Anki, but they definitely used the principles in one way or another.

I liken evidence-based study techniques to touch-typing (typing with home-row keys). When you first start learning, it'll be slower than your initial hunt-and-peck style, but that's just because it's new to you. As you become more familiar with it, your efficiency will surpass the initial style.

I highly recommend the book: Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning for more info on evidence-based study techniques. Here's a good summary: Make it Stick The Science of Successful Learning | livelikepros

As is often the case in science, our intuition about what works misleads us.
I know for me the problem with anki is that I just can't seem to use flashcards. I've been trying since high school, I've tried pretty much every method in the book for optimizing flashcards, but it just never seems to work. What are flashcard alternatives for spaced repetition and active recall? Is that what qbanks are good for?
 
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