Do I Have to Use Anki?

Anki has become one of the most popular tools in studying for the USMLE exams, with new decks coming out (what feels like) every couple of days. Many people swear by these decks, and attribute their success on the exams to using their Anki daily. Consequently, a lot of people feel like they *have* to use Anki in order to do well on the exam. I’m here to tell you that this is definitely not true.

What you DO need is some type of memorization tool. For some people that may be Anki. For others, maybe Sketchy. Others still could like RX question banks. The benefit of Anki is to develop skills in pattern recognition and quick fact recall. It also has the built in benefit of introducing spaced repetition into your learning, which is a well studied concept in effective adult learning theory. Though you won’t get the pre-made spaced repetition in the other resources, some people (including myself) find question banks and video memorization tools (like Sketchy) a better way to drill those facts into their head. Questions in Kaplan and even more so in USMLE RX serve that exact same purpose — a lot of quick pattern recognition. The benefit to the questions banks is that the format actually matches how you will actually take your Step exams.

As we like to reinforce, First Aid and UWorld are the only two must-haves. First Aid is your syllabus, UWorld is your textbook to help fill in the blanks to give you the actual content. You need other resources for pathology, physiology, and something for memorization.

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