MCAT Anki Decks: Which Make the Best Study Resources?
When you are undertaking the monumental task of MCAT content review, you want to be sure you are understanding, internalizing, and retaining the high-yield material you’ve studied. Flashcards can be an excellent MCAT study resource for testing your recall of important topics, but making your own cards can be incredibly time-consuming, especially on a tighter timeline. Many MCAT test-takers use the spaced repetition flashcard application called Anki, and generally use premade flashcard “decks.” There are a lot of these decks, created by various people on various MCAT forums, each with their own pros and cons. So… which one should you use?
Jacksparrow2048’s Anki Deck
This deck was created by user jacksparrow2048 on Reddit, which the creator used to score a 527 on their official MCAT exam. The jacksparrow2048 deck is one of the most used Anki decks out there, and a great MCAT study resource. This deck contains 5978 cards, arranged by MCAT content sections: Chemistry/Physics, Biology/Biochemistry, Psychology/Sociology. It also contains flash cards for the official AAMC practice exams, in their own category. This deck is an extremely comprehensive MCAT resource, and generally very well made. This is a deck you can use about ~5 months out from your official MCAT test date to make sure that you are adequately working through important material.
The cards in this deck aren’t simple recall cards—some of them are difficult and require you to think critically, and some contain practice problems. As a result, the deck is extremely slow moving, as it covers some very low yield topics. Unlike cloze deletion cards, which just make you “fill in the blank,” you will have to dedicate some time to understanding and remembering the information on these cards. Given the time commitment required to thoroughly review this deck, it is not recommended to work through more than 50 new cards a day. You might find yourself struggling to get through your daily Anki cards in addition to official AAMC material and UWorld questions and might begin to feel incredibly bogged down. This Anki deck can do a lot for you and help you in both low- and high-yield topics, but do not underestimate the investment in both time and energy needed to use this deck.
Ortho528 Anki Deck
The Ortho528 deck is one of the more popular decks available on student forums, containing 4351 cloze deletion cards. As mentioned in the previous section, cloze deletion Anki cards are “fill-in-the-blank” cards, which might lead you to memorize the card instead of the information. The real MCAT will never ask you to fill in the blank, so why would you train yourself to do so?
The answer is time and efficiency. It takes much less time and effort to use Ortho528’s Anki deck as a study resource – not only are they cloze deletion, but they also contain images and diagrams. Although these cards are relatively well sorted and created, they are lacking in explanation as they only ask you to plug in buzzwords as opposed to meaningfully engaging with the material.
This deck can be effective if you are having trouble with rote memorization, but know that it does not truly test your understanding of important concepts. Choosing to use Ortho528’s deck as an MCAT study resource is something you are going to have to weigh between how much time you have and the effort you want to put in vs. how much you want to get out of your Anki deck and how much help and explanation you need.
MileDown’s Anki Deck
MileDown’s 2900 cards are also cloze deletion, lending to the efficiency of using this deck as a study resource. In addition, each card contains a link to a Khan Academy video explaining the concept, unlike Ortho528’s deck which has no explanations. These cards are also sorted by topic – if you are having issues with a more particular subject area, you can easily sort the cards to reflect the content you are struggling with. This is unlike jacksparrow2048’s or Ortho528’s decks, which are sorted by MCAT section. Many students enjoy MileDown’s cards for their ease of use and simplicity, as well as the guidance towards Khan Academy’s explanations, if needed.
Choosing the Best MCAT Study Resource for You
Choosing which Anki deck to use is up to personal preference, both based on how much time you want to invest into flash card review and how thoroughly you would like your cards to delve into relevant material. Using jacksparrow2048, you might be working through Anki cards that you will almost certainly never see on the actual MCAT. However, the MileDown deck is one you can work through efficiently and potentially avoid experiencing Anki burnout. This is something you will have to decide for yourself. If you find yourself struggling with a deck or moving through it too quickly due to already knowing the material, you can easily switch decks for a greater challenge—and vice versa. The key part in using any of these decks is to stay consistent –use the Anki app every day and go through the cards as best you can!
If you feel you need extra assistance in choosing your MCAT study resources, setting a personalized study schedule, and effective content review, consider enlisting the help of an MCAT tutor to create a personalized plan of action for you!