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I don't love flashcards – are they necessary?

Activity Forums USMLE Step 1 Forum I don't love flashcards – are they necessary?

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Avatar Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor 11 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    If flashcards are not your cup of tea, you can use them more sparingly, but I wouldn’t recommend cutting them out entirely. The most important thing about flashcards is a buzz-word you’ve probably heard lots already around Step1 studying: spaced repetition. Flashcard apps like Anki or Memorang automatize this process, with spacing between repeated viewings of a card increasing with each correct id of the card. This can make for really efficient studying, getting through hundreds of cards in a relatively short amount of time. That said, I personally feel that flashcards work better for some materials than others, and for me they needed to be a part of a more diversified study strategy.

    Where I found flashcards to be most helpful was in micro, immunology, and pharmacology. Micro and pharmacology decks based on Sketchy can be particularly helpful, as spaced repetition is combined with visual cues. I would spend 45min-1hr on each of these three decks each morning, in addition to 45min-1hr on drawing out biochem pathways, making note of where medications and diseases played in. For biochem, I found this “big picture” approach allowed me to create connections between varied topics that helpfully reinforced the material.

    Another advantage of flashcards is that when you are burned out from reading UWorld answer explanations or FA, it can be really helpful to switch to a whole other type of studying. This could mean pathoma and/or sketchy videos, which are definitely great resources, though sometimes also hard to focus on after a long day, or it could mean flashcards. I definitely felt that I was able to push a little further with flaschards in those down moments. I would set a timer for 30-50 minutes, select a deck, and move through as many cards as I could

    If you’d really like to avoid flaschards at all costs, here is another approach to spaced-repetition: note high-yield tables and figures in FA and UWorld and make a point of drilling those by covering each row or section with a sheet of paper and quizzing-yourself. This is another way to get through some of the material that lends itself better to memorization. Make sure to keep track of when you do what, however, so that you can space out review – doing this once will stick for a day or two, but the repetition piece is what makes it stick for weeks and months.

    Good luck, and let me know if you have questions/concerns!

    Dan

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    #221
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    See Sana’s post for another take on this! https://usmletutors.com/forums/topic/do-i-have-to-use-anki/

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