I was one of those fortunate students who was able to glide through high school and college without much problem. Learning (and good test-taking skills) came easily to me, and so I enjoyed school. However, I knew that my study methods of the past weren't going to work in medical school. I couldn't just attend lecture, take a few notes, read a couple pages in a book, and expect to do well on a 7-hour block exam. It isn't that medical school is that much harder than undergraduate, but it is so much more information. For instance, 1/3 of my undergraduate biochemistry class was covered in 4 lectures in medical school. I knew that I needed to come up with a much better way of studying. The summer before medical school, I came across an amazing post over at Dr. Wilbe, which is a great blog and resource for any pre-med/medical student. He described this incredible, free, downloadable program called "Anki," which he was using to study and retain all the material in medical school. He wrote:
"People use Anki for lots of things. Foreign language learners love it. But I love Anki for med school. There is no way around it. You need to commit lots of information to memory. Brute force is not enough. Studying smarter, not harder is the goal, and in my opinion, Anki is the way to achieve that."
After using Anki on my own, I couldn't agree more. I love Anki, and it has helped me honor most of my first year medical school classes. However, I think that it can be just as helpful for pre-meds studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). As we all know, there are tons of terms and definitions that must be in a test-takers useable memory in order to score that treasured 30+ on the MCAT. Anki worked incredibly well for Dr. Wilbe on the USMLE Step 1 exam and it has been instrumental in helping me honor courses in medical school, so I am sure it will work on the MCAT.
Anki uses a concept called spaced repetition, which is a learning technique with a lot of science (and common sense) behind it. Over the course of the next week I will be writing posts about spaced repetition, online flash cards, and why I love using Anki in medical school. One of these reasons is that electronic flashcards are incredibly easy to use anywhere you have access to your computer, phone, or tablet (although you have to buy the Anki app).
I know for many of you, it is too late to start making Anki cards for all of your pre-requisite science classes. However, you can still use your MCAT prep-books to make a study deck during your MCAT review period. Or, if you want a head start on MCAT studying and would prefer to have an already-made resource, you can buy my MCAT Study Deck, and instantly have access to over 650 must-know definitions and principles from the two science subsections. The deck is selling for $5.00, which is many times less than what competitors are charging. If your time and money are valuable, start off your MCAT study period with this cheap resource!