How to use Anki for the MCAT
Flashcards are one of the most well-known learning methods for the MCAT. Based on scientific research on the human brain, flashcards are an excellent opportunity to attain new information and store it in long-term memory.
Students, however, are not unanimously in favor of flashcards. Some find it very useful and some just can’t work them out. There are many factors at play when considering why flashcards work for some and not for others.
Oftentimes, flashcard effectiveness can be determined based on the type of materials you need to learn, how much material is new, and personal learning preferences.
When it comes to the MCAT, flashcards can be of great help due to a large amount of material the exam covers. Flashcards can be categorized into two major groups: physical and digital.
In this article, we are going to discuss one of the best digital flashcard applications called Anki, and how to use Anki for the MCAT.
What Is Anki Anyway?
Anki is a free desktop flashcard application that uses spaced repetition techniques to help you remember information more easily. This method of learning has been proven to be more effective than traditional Quizlet styles of learning.
Anki should be used every day to learn new material, and also to review the material that you’ve learned on previous days. Anki sorts the flashcards using an algorithm based on how confident you answer.
Spaced repetition, the technique which Anki utilizes, is a learning approach based on variable time intervals between each card review. Cards that are difficult for you will be displayed more frequently than cards you have no problem answering. So when you learn a new card, you can show how well you know the material, and Anki will automatically schedule its next review time for you.
What makes Anki a great study tool for the MCAT is its time-saving efficiency. With typical flashcards, you’re forced to review even the cards you have already mastered. This means you don’t get to spend enough time on the material you still have difficulty memorizing. But Anki gradually increases the time intervals for reviewing flashcards and this way, you no longer need to review the material you already know by heart.
How To Use Anki For The MCAT?
Curate Your Own Decks of Flashcards
Although Anki gives you the option to create your flashcards, many students feel this process is time-consuming. The good news is, you can always use pre-made decks. There are tons of decks made by other people. A quick search on Reddit can be a good start to finding good MCAT flashcard decks. All you have to do is download the pre-made decks and load them into your own Anki app.
Anki On The Go
One of the qualities that make Anki a perfect tool for practicing for the MCAT is that it can make use of your spare time. Anki phone app allows you to review the content on the go: while on the bus, in the subway station, waiting for your coffee, or anywhere you like. You can make use of these little snippets of time to review your flashcards easily.
Anki is an excellent tool for memorization and recall, but the MCAT exam is about more than just that. The MCAT requires you to apply the recalled information and analyze passages and answer very specific questions. While Anki can be a great supplement for MCAT prep, it is not the only type of practice you need. To master the MCAT, make sure you use actual practice questions and exams too.
MCAT Study Tips For Using Anki
Spaced repetition technique works only if you stick to the schedule and review your cards EVERY DAY. The good news is, you can do it any time, anywhere. You might first feel like this is a waste of time because it’s taking a lot of time to learn new cards, but take it from us, it’s worth it and it is going to take less and less of your time as you move forward.
Make Sure You Understand the Material
Remembering a random fact or an equation is not going to be much help to you in the MCAT if you cannot apply them in a relevant context. Make sure you know why and how to learn new information.
Make Your Cards Specific
Anki flashcards should be specific, meaning that big chunks of information should be broken down into several smaller chunks information to make it easier to memorize and recall. It may take a longer time to prepare your flashcards at the beginning, but it’s worth the time and effort. Big chunks of content are easier to forget.
Which MCAT Subjects Can Be Studied With Anki?
MCAT is a highly application-based test. You have to apply things you have memorized and answer specific questions. However, there are certain topics that you can study well with Anki. Anything that requires you to memorize a significant amount of information is fair game, but here’s a list of suggested subjects broken down for you:
- Amino acids (structure, abbreviations)
- Metabolism processes (glycolysis, krebs, glycogen pathways, etc.)
- Physiology concepts + terms
- Classification of certain molecules (strong acids, exceptions to rules, etc.)
- Organic chemistry reactions
- High-yield physics equations
- ALL the terms
Some Anki Terms To Help You Get Started
Anki is completely free to use on desktop and android devices, however, there is a cost for the Anki app on iOS. When you download Anki, you may come across some terms that might not be very clear to you.
Here is a list of the most commonly used terms in Anki and a brief definition:
- Deck: This field shows which deck the flashcard belongs to.
- Front: You can type whatever you want to appear as the prompt for your flashcard or the same thing you write on the front side of a traditional flashcard.
- Back: This is where you type the answer to whatever you have on the front side of your card, just like the traditional flashcards.
- Tags: Single words that enable you to sort your flashcards by topic or chapter. Tags are optional but if you manage your tags carefully and tag your cards in an organized systematic way, reviewing, finding, and sorting them would become much easier for you.
- New: These are the cards you have created but have not yet reviewed.
- Learning: These are the cards you are in the process of reviewing.
- To Review: These cards are the ones that Anki software recommends you review that specific day based on the spaced repetition technique.
Anki is a powerful, highly customizable tool for the memorization of a variety of content. It can be especially helpful for those studying for the MCAT because oftentimes, the amount of information that the pre-med students should memorize for the MCAT seems overwhelming.
Anki helps students memorize the required content without having to worry about missing out on some content or forgetting to review it. Along with other practice material like Qbanks, exams, and other types of practices, Anki flashcards can help you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again by reviewing them consistently and making sure that the “correct” information is stored in your long-term memory.
Anki has some features that make it easier to use such as synchronization across multiple devices, high levels of customization, the ability to embed media such as audio clips, images, and videos into your flashcards, and a large number of add-ons that can further facilitate studying.