[Analysis] 10 Anki Add-ons for Medical Students in 2021

We all know that the human brain can only store a certain amount of memories. And a good memory is critical to your learning. This is especially true for medical school. All those terminologies, anatomical charts, and a sheer endless number of facts would need the most from your brain.

Luckily, you don’t need to do it on your own, there are plenty of tools to help you with that. One of them is Anki -- the open-source flashcard software. If you’re a med student, you most likely have already heard about it. In case you don’t know, you can find Anki here

How to make it work

Other than the native software, Anki also allows you to use many free add-ons. To install an Anki add-on, go to the tools menu. Click “Add-ons” and then “Browse & Install.” Paste the code provided below for each add-on and you’re good to go. Here's also a video that explains this process.

Introducing the Fantastic 10

There are hundreds of add-ons. When we have too many options to choose from, we tend to get lost (it’s psychologically-proven, check Hick’s Law). We handpicked 10 add-ons. They are useful for improving productivity, workflow, and the overall learning experience. These add-ons are great for medical school students. They can also benefit anyone who wants to improve their learning experiences.

The basic

#1 Hierarchical Tags: Make highly-organized sidebar

Update: infrequent


Anki code: 594329229

This add-on is the basic of the basic add-ons for Anki. But it’s a life-changing one. Without this add-on, your sidebar has no hierarchy or any sort of structure. You will have nice and clearly-structured tags that will make you organized and productive. It makes structuring the flashcards by chapters and subchapters easy, especially when you are managing large decks like USMLE.

#2 Advanced Browser: Boost the usability of your card browser

Update: frequent


Anki code: 874215009

This add-on greatly enhances the usability of any Anki deck. It gives you a little bit of extra control in the browser view which makes using Anki easier. For example, it allows you to add more categories - 1st/last review date, average answer time, total answer time, etc. - to the default menu. Additionally, it allows you to add basically any field of your deck as a column that you can display and sort. Finally, if you combine it with frequency fields, it will become even handier!

#3 Review Heatmap: The beautiful chart (and streak) that keeps you motivated

Update: infrequent


Install via Github

Who doesn’t love a good heatmap and streak? They keep your motivation up, track your routine, and give you a feeling of accomplishment. Well, this add-on is exactly that. You can track your progress in a visually intuitive way. Dark green means a high number of reviews, and light color indicates fewer reviews. It also includes stats of daily average, days learned, longest and current streaks. With these stats, you just got yourself an extra dose of motivation to thrive in med school.

#4 ImageResizer: Beautiful card, happy brain

Update: frequent


Anki code: 1214357311

Imagine this: you plan out your cards, add images, and at the review time, you realize that the pictures are too small or big. With this add-on, you can resize all the images (except gif) to the desired size. For those who are visual learners or who like to add some visual aids to their cards, this is a lifesaver add-on.

The Intermediate (that is still kinda basic)

#5 Frozen Fields: Make massive flashcards with sticky fields

Updates: regular


Anki code: 516643804

While the native Anki software supports sticky fields, or a field where the value is not deleted when you switch to a different note, it requires you to do it every time you want a field to be sticky. This add-on saves you plenty of time. With it, you can make a field frozen or unfrozen right from the note editor, or simply use the hotkey (F9 by default). This is especially helpful if you are making a large number of cards in which a field either has the same value or changes very little.

#6 Pop-up Dictionary: Learning on the fly

Updates: infrequent


Anki code: 153625306

We remember things better when they can make connections between different pieces of information. This add-on serves exactly that purpose by helping you to make connections between cards. By double-clicking words or phrases, you can quickly draw up related facts from your card collection. This is extremely useful when you have a large-number of related cards and you need to grasp the information systematically. It is of course also helpful for preparing for exams like MCAT or USMLE.

#7 More Overview Stats: Love metrics? Here are more of them

Update: frequent


Anki code: 738807903

While diligence is important, efficient learning also requires smart management of the learning process. This add-on provides you with more insights into your learning. The first column shows how many cards belong to categories like new and learning, cards that you’re currently learning or in review, and cards that you haven’t checked or put aside. The second column and last column show the percentage of your cards that fall into each category. The only difference is the last column doesn’t count the “suspended” cards. Besides, the add-on allows you to configure customized stats, which gives you even more power to monitor your learning.

#8 True Retention: Too many metrics? Here is the most important one

Update: infrequent


Anki code: 613684242

According to the developer of this add-on, “‘true retention’ is a better indicator of learning quality than ‘again’ rate.” Anki’s default retention rate calculates the percentage of correct answers of all cards, including both “young” cards, or those cards you just started reviewing, and “mature” cards, or cards that you’ve already familiarised yourself with for a while. This is not super helpful for you to gain high performance on long-term memory. The add-on, instead, gives you more insights into your performance by only evaluating your learning results on mature cards.

The advanced (if you are truly serious about learning)

#9 Image Occlusion Enhanced: Best add-on for visual learners

Update: frequent


Anki code: 1374772155

This add-on lets you do “image-based cloze-deletions.” It creates cards that hide parts of an image to test your knowledge of that hidden information. This works great for learning subjects like anatomy, biochemical pathways, or any other topics which require a lot of visual memorization. All you have to do is load a saved image or just take a screenshot, then use the shape tool provided by the add-on to redact parts of the image.

#10 Polar: Auto-generate flashcards straight outta your textbooks

Update: frequent

Very popular (works through AnkiConnect)

Anki code: 734898866

What is your usual Anki workflow for creating cards and decks? Do you type out your flashcards manually? Do you have to switch between your reader and Anki back and forth? Or do you always put large efforts to create a bunch of cards all at once?

Well, Polar is here to save you time and greatly enhance your efficiency. It is a document manager, a reader, and a learning tool all in one. It stores your PDF or ePUB textbooks, and website learning resources in one place. You can auto-convert any annotation, highlight, or comment in one click into a flashcard. If you want it even fancier, you can automatically generate a flashcard without any work from your end, thanks to the power of AI. And here is the most important thing: through AnkiConnect, you can sync all your flashcards from Polar to Anki in just one click!

So here you have the introduction of the fantastic 10. How do you feel? Are you ready to use these cool add-ons to spice up your experience in medical school? Wish you a productive and rewarding 2021!

Salute to all first responders, our superhero with no cape! Get prepared! Future heroes!

Posted on: Feb 10, 2021
Polar Team

Written by Polar Team
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