Biochemistry is no walk in the park. Using the excellent flashcard app Anki (a med school favorite), it can get a little easier.
Suddenly memorizing all those pathways doesn’t seem such a horrendous task.
Just as they’ve proven with their great anatomy decks, the Anki community can be relied upon again when it comes to covering biochem. Using the amazing r/medicalschoolanki as a source, I’ve put together this list of 3 of the best.
Note: I’ve also listed Anki plugins (you can download these for free via search in the app), file sizes and the years of upload too. Making it easier for you to find exactly what you need.
The Best Biochemistry Anki Decks
The 3 decks we’ll be looking at are:
- Zanki Biochemistry
- Adytumdweller’s Full Pixorize Deck
- Lightyear Biochemistry
All of these decks come highly recommended among the med school anki community. So much so they each have their place on the community sidebar.
If you’re looking for more general biochemistry study tips then check out my article; How To Study For Biochemistry (The Ultimate Guide).
Let’s take a look at the decks!
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Deck Type: General Biochemistry| Cards: 2342 | Year of Upload: 2020 | Required Plugins: Image Occlusion |Size: 3.2 Gb (Anking version)
Zanki biochemistry is probably the best known “gold standard” biochemistry anki deck. It’s been around a long time now and is constantly updated in various iterations. The version I’m recommending here is part of the Anking deck (something I’ve recommended many times before on this site).
The cards themselves are in cloze-format (fill in the gap) making them rapid to review. You can also quickly reference them alongside the media fields (Pixorize, First Aid for USMLE, Kaplan Biochemistry) of each card. There’s also a lot of helpful images added from around the web to help clarify the more challenging concepts.
You’ll have to download the entire Zanki deck to get started which can be annoying. From there though, especially with the hierachical tags enabled, you can isolate the biochemistry section itself.
That’ll stop you getting confused with the other areas of Zanki.
Personally I can’t praise this deck enough. It’s the exact one I used to help smash biochemistry and many of the core concepts I memorized from doing it have stuck with me today (despite not keeping up with reviews!).
It’ll take you some time to get through it all – it’s 2342 amount of cards – but it’s very comprehensive.
You’d be hard pressed to fail a final after sailing through all of this.
Adytumdweller’s Full Pixorize Deck
Deck Type: General Biochemistry| Cards: 1831| Year of Upload: 2020 | Required Plugins: Hierarchical Tags 2 |Size: 324 Mb.
Adytumdweller’s Full Pixorize Deck came out with little fanfare in mid-2020 but has since caught on massively. Applauded for it’s meticulous attention to detail, it’s built to be used alongside the Pixorize learning resource.
As Pixorize is all about mnemonics and creating memory palaces with bright pictures, this deck takes full advantage of that, including each of the images used in the videos.
Many med students claim they can breeze through Pixorize much faster than any other resource. Just check out some of the statements from this previous Pixorize deck.
At 1831 total cards it’s smaller than Zanki’s biochem section and possibly more fun to run through too.
One particular nice feature is the way it’s organized and tagged. You’ll need the hierarchical tags plugin to take full advantage of this…
The deck covers everything high yield in biochemistry.
I also ran through the first couple of sections to check it out myself (it’s been two years since I passed biochem and this deck wasn’t around then). Suffice to say it’s suitable to use even without Pixorize! The pictures are enough to make the cards (and the information) easy enough to remember.
Here’s an example…
The fact is used the cloze-style (fill in the gap) format is another huge plus!
Note: There’s also an immunology deck made by the same author based on Pixorize too.
Deck Type: General Biochemistry| Cards: 1870| Year of Upload: 2020 | Required Plugins: Image Occlusion, Hierarchical Tags 2 |Size: 1.1 Gb.
The Lightyear biochemistry is deck is similar to Zanki in that it makes up a small part of a much larger deck. There’s also a lot of overlap and some of the cards here have found there way into Anking’s latest overhaul.
For users of Board and Beyond though (the video series all Lightyear decks are based on) this deck is a really great choice. It syncs perfectly with the biochemistry module of the course and you can unlock the relevant cards as you go.
For those who don’t use Boards and Beyond though it’s still a good deck to memorize the fundamentals of biochemistry. Unlike Zanki a lot of the cards are in a more ‘contextual’ format too – where you’re expected to do more than simply complete the cloze (fill in the gap).
It’s also another deck that’s routinely updated.
Recommended Biochemistry Flashcard Resource
If you’d prefer to keep your flashcards analog and aren’t a fan of digital, then I’ve got you covered.
Lippincott Illustrated Reviews Flash Cards are the best set for your needs. The illustrations are top notch, the facts are on point and you don’t need any electronic hardware or software to make them work for you.
Recommended BiochemistryTextbook Resource
To supplement your flashcard-based learning it pays to have a good biochem textbook on hand to better contextualize your learning.
My favorite resource (that I used to ace biochemistry) was BRS Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics.
Note; I’m not a fan of Lippincott’s Biochemistry textbook here (the flashcards are 1000x better). The book is just too dense…
BRS’ review is far more straight to the point. It’s organised into easily digestible bullet points and has top-tier diagrams (very important when it comes to biochem).
Related Biochemistry Flashcard Questions
Top Tips For Using Anki Biochemistry Flashcard Decks
Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind in order to maximize your experience using these decks. Although they’re intended for these particular biochemistry ones the tips could be extended to any other flashcard deck!
- Pick and stick: instead of switching from one deck to another pick one and run with it to the end. That way you’ll eliminate distraction and you’ll have properly road tested the app. Not doing this, and constantly switching decks, is one of the biggest mistakes med students make when it comes to using Anki.
- Browse keywords: use the Anki browser to search key terms that you’re covering in lectures, classes, books or whatever and unlock them from there. There’s no point going through everything systematically when your class schedule is going in a different order.
- Understand first: before you use these decks to memorize core biochemistry concepts make sure you understand them first. These should be used as revision for a second pass of the material. It’ll help retention too.
- Review, review and review: to really get the most out of these decks you’ll need to keep on top of your reviews. That means doing them every day in the run up to your finals.
Why Use An Anki Biochemistry Deck?
The quick answer is to save time. The second best answer is that the work has already been done for you – and in these decks cases so well that you don’t need to worry you’d do a better job.
I’m not saying they guarantee success but the time you could save by using them certainly could!
Where to Find More Anki Biochemistry Decks
The best place to keep up to date about great new user generated biochemistry decks is the r/medicalschoolanki community. If something makes the graduation to the sidebar then you know it’s going to be good.
Related Anki Questions
If you’re not familiar with Anki, I recommend checking out The Anking YouTube channel.
This offers many useful tutorials and tips for Anki users. It’s primarily designed for med students but the content is just as good for students in other fields.
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Here’s a good primer (as well as a good intro on what they offer) below…
How Do I Add Plugins To Anki?
You can plugins, such as the hierarchical tags and image occlusion ones mentioned in some of the decks above, by going to tools > add-ons > get add-ons…
Alternatively press ctrl + shift + A on your keyboard.
From there, go to “browse add-ons” and copy the code of the plugin you want into the field here.
The code for image occlusion is 1374772155. For hierarchical tags it’s 594329229.
It’s that easy.
Why Do I Have To Go To Reddit To Download?
Reddit is where these decks are uploaded and shared. The original users deserve accreditation and the opportunity to be thanked for their hard work.
The files for these decks are hosted in these threads created by the deck’s creator.
Final Thoughts: The Best Biochemistry Anki Decks
Using active recall and spaced repetition, in the form of excellent anki decks, is just one piece of the med school puzzle. Just because lot’s of students swear by them doesn’t mean they’re the only way.
But hopefully some of the above suggestions can help!
If you enjoyed this post, you might find the following articles useful:
- How Many Med Students Use Anki? (What Students Get Wrong About Anki)
- Pathoma Vs Board And Beyond: What’s Best To Use In Med School?
Image Credit: @visidis at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and 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.