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Hi, I am a third year medical student from Italy and I am thinking about taking my USMLE step 1 sometime in the next year. I have been reading a lot recently about what to study and which materials are considered high yield. There seem to be mixed opinions on Anki flashcards to some people saying that they are useless to others basing their whole studying on it. What do you guys think about them? Are there any decks that are better than others? If so, which ones do you recommend? Is it time-effective to prepare my own flash cards? Thank you in advance...

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Hi Blerim!

So, I have used Anki flashcards extensively for my USMLE Step 1 dedicated prep period. I found that using a pomodoro timer of 25 min and 5 min short breaks was for me the highest yield of cards per day (on my best days I have done up to 2000 cards). I would recommend using either the Brosencephalon deck or the Zanki step 1 deck. I think both are very good, but Zanki may have some better explanations to the questions.

When I took the step 1 I realized that knowing the highest yield book is the Step 1 First Aid and the absolute best way to memorize and understand all of it is to use spaced repetition methods such as the Anki flashcards. The only reason why I would recommend it as compared to other spaced repetition methods (like Memorang, firecracker etc) is that it is free (if you are using an android phone or pc and only 25$ on the apple store). On top of that you have the option to add your own flashcards and it's very easy to do so. However, consider adding only a few cards after you have finished all of the deck (I found that a lot of the cards I added WERE ALREADY THERE. I simply hadn't reached them yet.)

I did try doing my own flashcards for everything I read in other study materials, however I think it was very time consuming and I should have stuck to decks that were already prepared. The best combination for a very high yield preparation is Anki + UWorld. Prepare your own UWorld deck in Anki and I am very sure you will have a very effective study period.

Remember though, you MUST do anki EVERY DAY! The whole purpose of spaced repetition is never miss a day. You may have days in which you don't do any blue cards, but always finish the green and red ones. Set your settings in Anki so that you get the green cards first.

Best of luck on your exam!

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