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Anki Only

Aravinda G., M1

Anki is a flashcarding software that is great for improving memory recall — but beware how you use it. In my opinion, it needs to be supplemented well if you want to maximize the potential. There are several great Anki decks for medical school, but the “AnKing” deck is probably the best organized deck covering the entirety of Phase 1 materials. Before each lecture, I usually watch either the Boards and Beyond, Sketchy, or Pathoma videos related to the topic at hand and unsuspend each of the AnKing cards associated with those lectures. After that, I read the textbook and skim the PowerPoint during lecture to patch up any lapses in knowledge from the videos and make Anki cards off any of those gaps. While the AnKing deck is highly useful, it is not omnipotent. The same applies for our lectures in class. Using both to supplement each other constitutes my effort to fill those gaps. 

I have found that it takes significantly less time to read through the textbook than it does to sit through the lectures themselves. As a result, most of my learning comes from self-teaching, but I always reach out to my professors if I have any questions I find are not answerable through the video recordings or PowerPoint.  Every day, I wake up in the morning and tackle Anki first thing (1.5-2 hours). Having a set time to do your cards is critical because if you do not have a set time, it is likely you’ll run into time issues and miss certain days. I appreciate how Anki helps remind me of material I covered months ago; if I notice I am missing several cards regarding a certain past topic, I make a note to briefly review that topic later. In this way, I stay up to date on not just the current block of material, but also past blocks. 

On average, I do around 700 cards a day. Regardless of how many you choose to do, ensure that you give yourself enough time to supplement with other material as well as enjoy some personal time to enjoy for yourself!

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Evan L., M1

I personally have always been someone who loves studying on campus. I don’t struggle that much to focus at home (though I am more likely to take naps), but I’m generally more energized/ focused when I’m studying with friends. The carrels are honestly nicer than most of the study spaces I’ve experienced in my life (that could be a “me” problem though). There are conference rooms, access to the larger lab classrooms, and really nice study spaces with nice lighting and views of campus, many of which are equipped with large screens and whiteboards for collaborating. They also have nap pods, massage chairs, and the necessary kitchenette for you to heat up dinner during extra chaotic exam weeks. During pre-COVID times, I think a lot of the random lunch talk leftovers used to get dropped off in the carrels so it will eventually also be a hotspot to get free low-to-medium quality takeout leftovers. Anyway, the carrels are great for both small group study with friends or individual studying, and definitely something I recommend you check out as you get settled into medical school.

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On Going to Class

Sabrina G., M1

One of the only upsides to the pandemic was that we could attend class from the comfort of our own homes in pajamas while often eating breakfast (although even without Zoom school, I know I would’ve still been a class-goer). It’s definitely not for everybody and I encourage you to experiment in the beginning of Phase 1 to see what fits your learning style, lifestyle, and preferred daily schedule. I realized that my attention and focus tend to be sharper when class is “live” since I know I cannot pause and rewind. I also like that attending class keeps me on track and builds in a natural routine to my day. Moreover, I enjoy getting to interact with the professors and classmates — even if I don’t have any questions, the fact that I have the opportunity to ask during class keeps me more engaged and curious. Lastly, now that Step 1 is pass/fail, I feel less pressure to gear my studying to boards and can align my studying wholly with our curriculum.

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On Skipping Class

David C., M1

Why should you let administrators and the people in charge of the Gateway Curriculum’s schedule dictate how you live your life? If you don’t want to wake up for an 8 a.m. lecture to look at blue and pink pictures of skin cells, then don’t. Watch it at 8 p.m. instead. Maybe you’re jetting off to exotic time zones every day (in the post-COVID era) or maybe you stayed up until 5 a.m. watching YouTube highlights of Judge Judy; when you skip live lecture, you are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul. Is the idea of watching lecture online not infinitely more attractive than hauling yourself over to the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center every day? A video recording will never judge you for wearing the same clothes four days in a row. In addition, while mere human lecturers are bound by the sluggish nature in which the brain converts thought to speech, video recordings have the ability to reach speeds man can only dream of. I will often find myself opening a beast of a lecture spanning two or three hours, but when I click the 10x button, in the words of the great Lightning McQueen, I am speed.

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Research and Anki

Jessica D., M1

Research opportunities

I’m sure you have heard of the incredible, cutting-edge research being done at WashU, but what you may not know is how easy it is to get involved in research even within the first few months of medical school if you so choose! I joined a basic science laboratory sometime during the first few months of medical school simply by sending an email to a few PIs whose labs I was interested in joining. Several of my friends found clinical research opportunities by attending lunch talks or even just attending class! We also receive emails several times a month with research opportunities available for medical students, and specific interest groups have generated lists of PIs who are currently looking for new members. In addition to the ample opportunities, I have found it to be very manageable to do research alongside schoolwork. PIs are very aware of the time and work commitments of medical students and allow incredible flexibility week-to-week based on your schedule. WashU has definitely exceeded my expectations for research opportunities available to med students!


Anki has been the perfect way for me to incorporate learning the curriculum material with Step 1 study materials. I downloaded the AnKing deck during the first week of medical school and I unsuspend cards that directly correlate with the class material based on tags already generated in this deck. I usually find that the cards in the decks correspond very well with our lectures, and this helps put context behind all of the cards. 

I typically only spend around 1-2 hours per day doing Anki and any associated outside resource videos. Anki for me is a supplemental resource that will allow me to retain my memory for what we are learning in class throughout the entire curriculum until I take Step 1. Most of my time is spent attending lectures, reviewing lecture materials and studying with classmates. 

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Studying at Home

Karina S., M1

By this point of the pandemic, I am sure we are all well accustomed to working/studying from home. In undergrad, I was always someone who studied exclusively at the library or in coffee shops, but in the past few months I have spent most of my time studying at home due to the flexibility it gives me. With medical school lectures entirely online and one or two on-campus activities a week, our schedule has provided the freedom to study in whatever way works best. I have actually found myself going to lectures much more than I anticipated simply because I can roll out of bed ten minutes before class starts and jump on Zoom. My roommate and I also bought a large kitchen table at the beginning of the year, and it’s been great to have this space to study together and with friends. Additionally, as an avid snacker it helps that my kitchen is always only a few steps away. Overall, I enjoy being able to dictate my own schedule and study where I am most comfortable.

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Studying in Library

Christian M. H., M1

In undergrad I quickly discovered that I need a clear separation between my relaxing space and my work space. Knowing this about myself, I gladly make the drive to Becker Medical Library almost every day of the week to escape the many distractions of my apartment. I usually go in the late afternoon once the Clayton garage is no longer charging for parking (it’s free for students after 2 p.m.). I’ll then store my packed dinner in the fridge that’s on the seventh floor and find the spot that will work best for that study session. If I feel like studying alone, I will go to the basement floor which is almost always empty, whereas if I’m studying with friends I’ll usually go to the fourth floor study rooms or the seventh floor. And although COVID-19 certainly made studying in the library somewhat more complicated, the staff at Becker have taken excellent steps to make it a safe environment for everyone, making sure to promote social distancing and mask wearing. If you are like me and can’t resist the call of your bed while powering through hundreds of Anki cards, definitely give Becker a try!

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Traditional Study Methods

Bella M., M1

When I started at WashU, I thought that I had to change my study methods drastically, but the reality was that I only really needed to fine-tune them. After watching lecture and making notes on the PowerPoint slide, I go back and create a written review sheet of the most important concepts and points to review later on and before the exam. From my notes, I make my own Anki cards and supplement with some cards from AnKing if I need more practice in a subject. When reviewing for exams, I tend to write out a lot of concepts on a whiteboard as well as go over my review notes that I’ve made along the way. You know best how you learn, so just start off with what you know works for you and you can adjust from there.