This is the ultimate guide to Ali Abdaal.
Ali Abdaal is as an estabilished YouTuber. He’s a doctor that makes content aimed at helping people lead more productive lives. He provides useful study techniques and commentary across a range of platforms.
I’ve been following Ali closely for at least 4 years now. I remember watching his stuff and following his study advice back when I was preparing for med school. It helped massively!
This article will cover:
- Ali’s best advice for students (medicine, healthcare, general)
- Exam preparation tips
- Origins on YouTube
- Business successes and finances
I’m 100% confident learning more about Ali could help you live and study better.
Ready? Let’s go.
Ali Abdaal: Quick Intro
|Who:||UK-based doctor turned YouTube star.|
|What:||Makes amazing study videos, tech reviews and productivity tips.|
|Why:||1.42M subscribers. $1M combined revenue in 2020.|
|Where:||YouTube. Twitter. Facebook.|
|When:||1-2 videos per week. Free courses anytime. Paid courses open several times per year.|
What Is The Med Guru Series?
Welcome to our med guru series where we profile prominent medical education influencers.
The aim of this series is to provide a guide to the following:
- An influencers best and most useful content
- A guide to find other associated projects, courses or content
- Answers to common questions that get asked
Maybe these profiles can also serve as inspiration for you to get creative with ideas outside of healthcare-related work and study.
All these people started the same way. With one single idea.
Who Is Ali Abdaal?
Ali Abdaal is a doctor based in the UK. He’s popularly known for his YouTube channel of the same name. He currently has over 1.42 M subscribers.
There’s more information, as well as information on what else he’s working on, available on his About page…
Ali produces roughly 2-3 new YouTube videos each week.
What is Ali Abdaal’s Nationality?
Ali Abdaal is British.
He is of Pakistani descent. His mother is a Pakistan-born GP working in the UK.
Where Did Ali Abdaal Study Medicine?
Ali completed his medical degree at The University of Cambridge, UK.
He graduated in 2018 from a six-year medicine course.
Some of the awards he earned while at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, include:
- First Year – MVST1A – 2i. Ranked in top 25%
- Second Year – MVST1B – First Class. Ranked in top 15%.
- Third Year – NST II Psychology – First Class. Ranked second in the year in Psychology BA
- Passingham Prize for most outstanding exam performance
- Windsor Scholarship awarded by Emmanuel College
He was active in promoting medical educational opportunities during his final years of study.
Here’s a video from 2017 showing Ali’s involvement on a panel promoting medical study opportunities to the British Bangladeshi community.
Is Ali Abdaal A Doctor?
Ali is a registered doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC) of the UK.
As of August 2020 he has been on a 1-year sabbatical from Medicine, exploring his other interests.
Ali was working in the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. He completed clinical rotations in Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Stroke Medicine.
More information is available on his Linkedin Profile.
Does Ali Abdaal Have A Website?
Ali Abdaal has a website at aliabdaal.com.
Here’s how his homepage looks…
The website is home to the following:
- The Ali Abdaal “Sunday Snippets” newsletter
- Information detailing his courses and podcast
- Articles discussing themes like studying, productivity, tools and tech, apps, entrepreneurship etc.
- Links to all his active social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.)
The website was originally built on the Ghost platform.
Does Ali Abdaal Have A Podcast?
Ali and his brother Taimur Abdaal host a weekly podcast called Not Overthinking.
They discuss topics like “happiness, creativity and the human condition.”
2021’s episodes have focused on book discussions (The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt and The Tyranny of Merit by Michael J Samuel), questions over building an “online audience” and how to optimize for a meaningful life.
What Is The Ali Abdaal Newsletter?
Ali Abdaal’s newsletter is called “Sunday Snippets”. You can sign up to via his main website.
Ali describes it as “an email newsletter with some thoughts, life lessons and links to articles/books I enjoyed that week.”
Here’s an example of one of his newsletter updates from September 2020…
It’s formatted as follows:
- Personal update
- Quote of the week
- Tweet of the week
- This week’s videos
Personal note: I’ve been subscribed to it for several years and have always enjoyed reading Ali’s updates.
Ali Abdaal’s YouTube Career
Ali’s growth on YouTube has really grown his profile as a general educator with a medicine background.
How Did Ali Abdaal Get Started On YouTube?
Ali got started on YouTube while still a student at Cambridge University.
His first video (27 March 2016) was of a cover of the John Legend song of All of Me recorded with friend Duranka Perera (vocals). Ali can be seen and heard playing guitar in the background.
Ali slowly started to gain traction on YouTube over the following years, releasing content related to the BMAT (see the 6med section of this article).
His channel started to take off when he began recording regular “medical student vlogs” around 2017-18.
Here’s an example of one of those…
In 2020 his channel really began to blow up. This was largely thanks to Ali’s continued focus on study, exam and productivity tips as well as tech reviews and workspace set-ups.
He reached 1m subscribers in November 2020.
Here’s the video where he discusses reaching the 1 million milestone.
What Is Ali Abdaal’s Most Popular Video?
Ali’s most popular video is titled “How I take notes on my iPad Pro in medical school – Cambridge University medical student.”
It was made in June 2018.
Why Is Ali Abdaal So Popular?
My own personal opinion on why Ali is so popular is for the following reasons:
- Down to earth style: Ali talks to his viewers calmly like friends
- Oversharing: Ali often shares things others might find “too personal” (i.e. dating, money, family topics etc.)
- Useful, well researched content: Most videos are backed-up by evidence-based research that’s either directly quoted or linked out to
- Interesting: People are interested in Ali’s growing success, business endeavors, latest tech reviews etc.
This Medium article from Brandon Zhang also has some interesting opinions on Ali’s popularity.
The main ones being:
- His willingness to get started and try new things
- His work ethic (balancing YouTube, business and being a doctor)
Ali Abdaal’s Financial Success
Ali Abdaal’s work as a doctor contributes very little to his overall financial success.
Here we find out why.
How Does Ali Abdaal Make Money?
One of the main reasons Ali is growing in popularity is due to how candid he is about money.
According to his channel, Ali currently makes money (excluding his work as a doctor) in the following ways:
- YouTube Adsense
- Courses (more on this later)
- Affiliate Partnerships and Sponsorships
- Amazon Affiliate Program
- Other businesses (more on this later)
He details most of this in the following video…
The Medium article linked above also goes into more detail about this.
What Does Ali Abdaal Promote?
Most of Ali’s videos promote educational platforms or courses.
Past videos have promoted platforms like Notion and Skillshare.
His YouTube content has affiliate links marketing the following products:
- Camera gear
- Keyboards (and other computer hardware)
- iPad accessories (Paperlike screen protectors etc.)
- Desk accessories (Ugmonk)
- Courses (Effortless Output with Roam Research, Building A Second Brain)
- Software (Shortform, Readwise etc.)
How Much Money Does Ali Abdaal Make?
Ali has consistently provided income reports throughout the growth of his YouTube channel.
Here’s Ali back in May 2020, talking about how much he earned in a week as a doctor compared to being a YouTuber.
According to the video (at 00:30:00 minutes) he claims his active income (from being a junior doctor) was $1387/wk compared to his passive (YouTube) income of $4269/wk.
Is Ali Abdaal A Millionaire?
At the year end of 2020, Ali Abdaal reported a total annual revenue of £1,013,000 ($1,362,000). This is a combined figure for all his businesses (and 7 months full-time work as a doctor).
The sources of this revenue include:
- 7 months full-time work as a doctor: £22,100
- Google Adsense: £100,695
- Affiliate marketing: £132,471
- Sponsorship: £136,000
- Skillshare courses: £350,000
- YouTuber Academy: £220,000
- Inner Circle: £53,000
The figures are given in British GBP as this is where Ali’s businesses are owned and operated.
This is all detailed in the video below…
Based on this information, it’s possible Ali is already a millionaire (or at least well on his way).
What’s Ali Abdaal’s Net Worth?
There is no reliable estimate of Ali Abdaal’s net worth.
Ali Abdaal’s Businesses & Courses
Besides YouTube, Ali has various business interests and activities.
Here we’ll detail several.
6med is a medical admissions preparation company (voted best in that category 2020), that prepares students for medical study in the UK.
Ali reports building this “million dollar business” while studying in medical school.
6med claim to have taught courses to “over 10,000 happy students in the last 6 years”, according to their website.
Ali started this in 2012 with friends of his at Cambridge University.
Part-Time YouTuber Academy
The Part-Time YouTuber Academy (PTYA) is a course described as teaching you “how to grow your YouTube channel from 0 to 100,000+ subscribers and transform it into a sustainable, income-generating machine. Without quitting your day job.”
Here’s how the main website looks…
It’s a 6-week course following something principles Ali calls “The Idea Generation Machine” and the “Artery Method.”
It runs from February 15th 2021 to March 26th 2021. There is a 200 cohort cap.
The cost of this course is $1000.
Ali justifies this by saying the high cost is a motivating factor for people completing the course.
The Inner Circle
The Inner Circle is a subscription based community offered only to alumni of Ali Abdaal’s PTYA course.
The revenue from this contributes to the $1M annual figure discussed above.
Besides his paid-for courses, Ali also offers free online courses.
He makes a commission on these via premium membership sign-ups on the platform.
- Ali Abdaal’s Productivity Masterclass – Principles and Tools To Boost Your Productivity
- Video Editing with Final Cut Pro X – From Beginner to YouTuber
- How to Study for Exams – An Evidence-Based Masterclass
The third course on this list might be particularly worth looking at for readers of this site interested in improving their grades and studying more efficiently.
How Does Ali Abdaal Help Healthcare Students?
Ali’s How to Study for Exams playlist is incredible useful for students of all disciplines, not just medicine or healthcare.
His study philosophy is based on evidence-based learning tips.
He talks about:
- Active recall
- Spaced repetition
- Essay memorization frameworks
- Revision timetables
- Anki-flashcard tips
My favorite video of his is “How to study for exams – Evidence-based revision tips.”
In this video, Ali recommends attempting the following techniques to get better grades:
- Using practice questions to “lead” your study sessions – not passively highlighting or reading textbooks etc.
- Repeating this testing – visiting questions (especially those you get wrong) or concepts at “timed intervals”
- Using flashcards to reinforce your learning
- Spider diagrams (from your memory only) syllabus topics and subjects
- Writing questions from your reading or viewing of the subject material (instead of notes)
Med students specifically may get a lot of utility out of the following video too:
#1: Time Management, Stress and Regrets
Some awesome tips here concerning managing your time in med school, staying productive and not burning out.
Collaboration with Kharma Medic.
#2: Day in the Life as a Doctor (Gynaecology)
Interesting insight into how medicine works in the British National Health Service (NHS). Taken during Ali Abdaal’s time on his Obstetrics & Gynecology rotation.
What Is Ali Abdaal’s Recommendation RE: Exams?
One video that isn’t in Ali’s How to Study for Exams playlist (but is definitely worth a watch) is “The STic Framework for Effective Learning”.
The STic principles are as follows:
They lean heavily on the study advice offered above.
Interleaving involves testing with various subjects at one (i.e. mixing anatomy questions with pharmacology etc.)
As Ali points out, these principles are highlighted in the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
Finally here’s some additional questions people ask when discussing Ali Abdaal and his work.
What Are Some Fun Facts About Ali Abdaal?
- He’s a skilled magician (here’s a video of him showing off his skills)
- He learned to code aged 12 and worked as a freelance web designer/developer
- He was big into World of Warcraft growing up
- He’s into fantasy novels (here he is geeking out over some of his favorite fantasy books)
Here’s a cool video only hardcore Ali Abdaal fans will appreciate…
Where Can I Find Ali Abdaal’s Active Recall Spreadsheet?
Ali Abdaal’s active recall spreadsheet is highlighted in this video.
It is actually a system credited to a colleague of his at Cambridge medical school.
Although there is no spreadsheet available, I do have an example of one I used myself employing this technique to study physiology.
Ali’s article also gives more information on how to best make a spreadsheet like this.
Ali Abdaal’s iPad
Besides study videos, Ali is hugely popular for his tech reviews.
Mainly focusing on Apple, his channel is a great resource for learning about useful apps and the latest features on Apple gear etc.
Here’s Ali discussing his favorite iPad Pro apps from 2020.
His Tools & Tech playlist comes highly recommended for anyone else interested in increasing their productivity via iPads, MacBooks, Kindle and the like.
What Books Does Ali Abdaal Recommend?
Ali is an avid reader (something evidenced in his video “How I Read Books Really Fast“).
Books he’s cited as some of his favorites include:
- The Four Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss (3 Books that Changed my Life)
- Show Your Work – Austin Kleon (3 Books that Changed my Life)
- Anything You Want – Derek Sivers (3 Books that Changed my Life)
- Atomic Habits – James Clear (Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results – Atomic Habits by James Clear)
- The Unfair Advantage – Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba (What Makes People Successful?)
- Make Time – Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (My Favourite Productivity Book)
- Grit – Angela Duckworth (The Secret to Success – ‘Grit’ by Angela Duckworth // Book Summary)
- The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage (Shawn Achor) – Book Summary)
- Your Money Or Your Life – Vicki Robin (The Book That Changed My Relationship With Money)
- The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday (How to see opportunities in EVERYTHING)
- Happy – Derren Brown (Monthly Favourites #8 – Ali Abdaal)
Note: A few of these show up in my article…
Ali Abdaal Goodreads
You can find our more about what Ali is reading (including more recommended books) via his Goodreads account.
According to his profile, he read 16 books in 2020. He has a total 352 reviews overall.
Final Thoughts: Ali Abdaal – YouTube’s Med School Guru
Ali is a huge asset to the med-ed community (and studying and productivity more generally) and we’re glad to have him.
I’m sure I won’t be the first one in personally thanking him for all the fantastically useful content he’s put out there for people like me to learn from!
If you liked this article, you might find the following a great read too:
- How To Study Medicine Effectively: Why I Started A Daily MCQ Practice Group
- Coffee Before Exams? (Everything You Need To Know About Studying With Caffeine)
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.