I am a huge fan of Anki, which I have posted about before. It allows you to create your own cards and review them based on a learning algorithm that adapts as you review. Specifically, it is great for in-house exams where professors seem to have their own topics of focus which may or may not be the same as the USMLE. As an aside, I think learning the information that professors think is important enriches my time in medical school. I plan on learning all the Step 1 information, but having mastery of various “low-yield” topics because I went to lecture has helped me integrate my knowledge and get those hard questions on Qbanks and hopefully on the real test.
Ok, onto something that is “high yield”. For people unfamiliar with Firecracker, it is the basis of my studying. I have been using it since summer between MS1 and MS2 and wish I had started earlier. It also uses spaced repetition and with my own (and classmate’s) Anki cards, is the foundation of my memorization.
Their system is based on pre-made flashcards which sometimes lack the clarity of class notes, or perhaps have mnemonics that I don’t like. For this reason, there is a space on each flashcard for your own notes. Sometimes this is simple a little text blurb, but I would like to explain how I link my class notes in PDF from Evernote for a more detailed review of certain topics. Let’s get started!
Let’s say I’m beginning my daily study in Firecracker.
I get to a question on hemostasis and want to look at the whole card in context. This is easy to do in FC, just click the topic and it will take you to the entire card.
While this topic on Warfarin is nicely done by FC, I remember my class notes on hemostasis to be quite clear, so I want to add a link to the PDF version of the notes which contain all my annotations from class. There is an area on the right to add my own notes to the card. There is a formatting guide after you open the editor, but for links the format is as follows “Link text”:LinkURL.
Let’s go over to Evernote, under the Pathology tag. The title of the Evernote Note containing the PDF in question is “02.L10 – Normal Hemostasis” That’s my way of organizing my notes. It means term 2, lecture 10. Our year is broken up into 6 terms with various lectures, ppt slides, audio reviews, etc, so that shorthand lets me sort by title very quickly. Click the “share” icon and choose to copy the link.
Now we go back over to Firecracker and open the note editor on the right sidebar. Use the notation I mentioned earlier and save the note.
It should look something like below. When you are doing any question from this card, you should see the note when you are viewing the answer or looking at the whole card in context. Remember to open it in a new tab.
When you open it in a new tab, it will take you to a page like the one below. Open that PDF and look through it.
That’s it! I hope that all makes sense and if there are any questions, feel free to post below and I will try to clear up any confusion.