Online Study Tools for Medical School
I have never been a huge fan of textbooks, so, after nearly 5 years of studying at university without ever purchasing one, it’s safe to say I have tried many different online study tools. I now feel I have a good idea of which platforms are good and what they’re good for. Here are my personal favourites and why I like them…
Notion is a note-taking platform but with many added benefits compared to a simple word document:
- Organisation — Notion allows you to create pages within pages, meaning you can create your own personalised database of notes. You can also add links to other pages within a page, meaning other notes are quick and easy to access and there’s no need to re-write out the same bits of information.
- Aesthetically pleasing — You can add headers of different sizes, contents pages, icons, coloured text, highlighting etc. It’s also easy to import other media such as images and PDFs. You can even embed YouTube videos directly into a page.
- Everything in one place — As well as storing all my notes for medical school, I also use for other life admin. I have a weekly planner which includes all my university and social commitments and daily to-do lists. I also have a page where I list any upcoming assignments, when they’re due and tick boxes for when I’ve finished and submitted them.
While Anki isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Notion, it’s a great flashcard program. It has a built-in algorithm (which you can customise yourself – if you can wrap your head around it!) which means flashcards will reappear at a certain frequency depending on whether you got it right or wrong, and how often you get that question right/wrong. You can import images and occlude parts of the image, which is great for revising anatomy. The ‘cloze deletion’ add-on allows you to hide certain words/phrases within a flashcard so you can fill in the blank(s). I like Anki for pharmacology and anatomy as an important part of revising these modules is memorising the names of things.
Passmedicine & Quesmed
There are many question banks out there for medical students, but I’ve found Passmedicine and Quesmed to be the most popular and best rated. There are slight differences between the two platforms but are grossly the same. They offer multiple-choice questions with a stem, which is the question format often seen in medical school exams. This involves giving a clinical scenario then asking anything from the most likely diagnosis to the micro-organism that causes the disease in question. These are great because they allow you to practice questions most similar to the questions you’ll be faced with in your exams and allow you to apply clinical reasoning.
If you enjoy using an iPad and Apple Pencil (or other tablet and stylus) for studying, Notability is a great option. I used it for all my anatomy studying in first year – I would import the lecture slides into Notability as a PDF then write straight onto the slides. This way I could easily label structures, add my own notes and highlight important bits of information. I also used it during revision to make mind-maps and lecture summaries.
I’ve found the study tools I use have changed during the (almost) two years I’ve been at medical school. I now mostly use online question banks and Notion, whereas in first year I used Notability and Anki a lot more. However, all of the above have been holy grails for me at least at some point, so I hope you find them useful.