A Rocky Start
When it came to formatting my flashcards in Anki for my MCAT studies I had some trouble figuring out what to do. I shuffled between a number of ideas before settling on a setup that works well, isn’t overwhelming to keep up, and is simple and easy to review. In my earlier post reviewing the flashcard program Anki, that uses spaced-repitition algorithms to maximize your learning, I talked about how flexible the software was for making different custom fields and using different media. This is a big part of getting a good study setup.
When I started out I had cards that were asking for multiple pieces of information per card. It went from something like:
What are the names and functions of the chambers of the human heart?
- Left Ventricle – pumps oxygenated blood from the lungs out to the body
- Left Atrium – pumps oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left ventricle
- Right Ventricle – pumps de-oxygenated blood out to the lungs
- Right Atrium – pumps de-oxygenated blood from the body to the right ventricle
One Card = One Fact
This was too much information to test on at once. I would find myself spending more time deciding how to score the card then working on the reviews at times. If I got all the parts named correctly and missed a few of the functions how did I score that? I started to cut down on the information tested on each card and found that I improved my understanding and time it took to check. Weaknesses were easier to target by splitting the information up. It kept weak facts from being lost in the murky gray area of that came from scoring cards with too much information on them.
Cloze Deletion for the win!
The other function in Anki that made reviewing my MCAT flashcards easier was the cloze deletion tool. This made making my flashcards super simple! Cloze deletion takes a fact you entered in the front field and then deletes the highlighted part of the selected fact and replaces it with a placeholder. The deleted portion of the fact is highlighted blue in the answer field. Below is an example of what a cloze deleted card looks like:
These two changes have, so-far, streamlined my flashcard process and have helped me to memorize facts better. I’ll post another update soon detailing subject specific formats I’ve used for the MCAT flashcards(especially Organic Chemistry).