Brosencephalon: USMLE Flashcard Reviews
USMLE Step 1 & Step 2 CK Resource Reviews: Brosencephalon
If you have begun studying for the USMLE (or have read our other posts in this series), chances are that you already know the importance of flashcards– and that there are many great flashcard resources out there. But are all Step 1 resources created equal? The answer is no.
We’ve sent some of our most experienced tutors to test out different flashcard sites to let you know how effective they actually are. Today we are reviewing Brosencephalon, whose tagline is, “Thoughts, ideas, and resources for Medical Education.” But just how great is the Brosencephalon resource?
- Spaced repetition makes memorization efficient and effective
- Familiar format for most medical students: if you know how to use Anki you won’t need to learn any new software interfaces.
- Meticulously organized
- Includes flashcards for Sketchy Medical
- 13,000 cards = 7,000 less cards than Zanki
- Four years and four versions worth of errata makes for a well-oiled machine
- Still a lot of cards…
- No pre-division requires some up-front work to make specific decks for yourself (although the meticulous organization above makes this relatively easy)
Where do I find them?
Our Tutor’s Opinion
Similar to Zanki, Brosencephalon is a free collection of 13320 Anki cards based on First Aid and Pathoma that was originally posted to Reddit in 2014. Over the years the Reddit and medical community at large has edited and perfected this deck. When you download this deck, it will not be pre-divided.
This is to achieve two things:
- Reduce the risk of sync errors in Anki (which increases with more subdecks), and
- Give students more control of the decks by separating them themselves by tag based on their needs.
This is done in the card browser but does require more student work. To create a new deck, the student needs to open the card browser and navigate to the tag on the left and select it – this will pull up all the cards with that tag in the main panel. They can then select the cards they want to move to a new deck and hit change deck on the top menu bar. Thankfully, these cards are beautifully divided by tag, and in a hierarchical system, and it is very easy to find specific subjects to separate and review based on First Aid (see below).
The cards are extremely well crafted, and follow all the golden rules of good Anki cards. They also include helpful pictures and diagrams (mix of google images or First Aid screenshots) every 5 cards or so, and, because this is in Anki, you can add your own pictures or information should they wish. In the newest version we reviewed (v1.5), cards are black with red answers, making it easier on the eyes. A sample question looks like the following:
Note of warning:
For Brosencephalon, Zanki, or Anki users: spaced repetition is only efficient and effective if you stay up to date with your cards. If you do 200 new cards each day, this means you will have ~200 new cards the next day, plus whatever old cards are new that day, so proceed with caution when choosing how many new cards to do a day. If you do not keep up with your cards each day, you are missing out on the ability to take full advantage of your efforts put into reviewing the cards in the first place! If you know you are the type of person that won’t be able to keep up with your cards, another resource is your best bet.
For additional questions on how to use Brosencephalon properly for your Step 1 and Step 2 studies, feel free to contact one of our experienced USMLE tutors.