My Home for Spaced Repetition: What My Anki Setup Looks Like

Anki refers to a free, flashcard-based spaced repetition software available at I take just about all of my notes for medical school using Anki. The basic idea is that the spaced repetition allows you to transfer knowledge to long-term memory in the most efficient way possible.*

My Anki is broken into three parent decks: Medicine, Languages, and Memory Sports, each with a few subdecks (e.g. Pathology, Chinese). I use hierarchical tags for everything (e.g. Med::Path::Block5::endocrine-pathology::adrenal-cortex::cushing-syndrome). This gives me a way to outline the material. For the cards themselves, I almost exclusively use a modified "Basic" format. Four fields: Front (the question), Back (the answer), Big Picture (additional notes to help strengthen conceptual understanding and see the larger picture), and Mnemonic (usually with a description of images in a memory palace).

I don't generally reference palaces or anything other than the actual material in the first three fields. In my Mnemonic field, I'll write something like this: [locus] IMAGE1 hits IMAGE2. For instance, "[railing] EINSTEIN slides into APPLE." I capitalize things that actually correspond to information, sometimes writing in the association if it's not clear; for instance, "[railing] EINSTEIN=epstein-barr-virus knocks over ROTTEN egg." I keep the language as concise as possible. I used to write long descriptions of my stories, but I found that doing so took too much time and was largely irrelevant after I'd spent some time with the material. Now, my descriptions often look as simple as "[locus] IMAGE." I also tend to fill the Mnemonic field with all mnemonics relating to the relevant subtopic. For example, each of the x cards about Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) will contain all mnemonics relating to EBV. 

Although it doesn't always happen, I do my best to complete all high-yield review cards each day, even those from older test blocks.

Here are a few example screenshots:

Per a commenter request, here are my medicine deck’s settings, based in part on Yousmle’s Anki recommendations:

anki medicine deck cards spaced repetition spacing retrieval practice

*For a more general discussion of the benefits of Anki, see Never Forget What You Learn: 4 Reasons You Should Be Using Anki in Medical School