3 Best Microbiology Anki Decks: Learn Microbiology Fast (2021)

Microbiology is very memorization heavy. Using the excellent flashcard app Anki (a med school favorite), it can get a little easier.

Suddenly memorizing all those gram positive/negative bacteria, viruses and fungi doesn’t seem such a terrible task.

Just as they’ve proven with their great MCAT decks, the Anki community can be relied upon again when it comes to covering microbio. 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 Microbiology Anki Decks

The 3 decks we’ll be looking at are:

  • Zanki Microbiology
  • Lolnotacop
  • Pepper Deck

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 Survive Microbiology (5 Important Rules).

Let’s take a look at the decks!

Zanki Microbiology

Deck Type: Medical microbiology (and general micro)
Cards:4081
Card Format:Cloze, Basic
Year of Upload:2020
Required Plugins:Hierarchical Tags 2
Download Size:3.2 Gb (Anking version)

Said to be the gold standard of all medical study Anki deck’s, Zanki’s microbiology section is more than enough to help you dominate exams.

Anking’s version (now on V.8) of Zanki overhauls and tidies the original deck up, bringing together even more media and making sure each card’s tag is relevant.

That helps you, with Hierarchical Tags 2 installed, find the exact microbio topic you need to study.

The cards are based and organized by several sources, including:

  • First Aid for USMLE
  • Boards and Beyond Micro
  • Sketchy Micro (pulling in the lolnotacop deck – more on this later)
  • UWorld microbiology-based questions and concepts

Meaning you can study from whatever resource you like (from those in the list) and then study from the relevant cards in deck to reinforce everything.

Here’s an example card…

In typical Zanki-style, most cards are cloze (fill-in-the-gap) format.

You can’t go wrong with this deck, it has absolutely everything you’ll need.

Download the Zanki (Anking) Microbiology here.


Lolnotacop’s Deck (Sketchy Micro)

Deck Type: Medical microbiology
Cards:3377
Card Format:Cloze, Basic
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:Hierarchical Tags 2
Download Size:272 Mb

Lolnotacop’s microbiology deck, based on the hugely popular Sketchy Micro video series, has been around in various guises for several years now. It’s this deck that makes up the bulk of Zanki’s microbio section.

Considered by med students as one of the most popular Anki decks on the subject, u/DerpyMD’s overhaul of it back in 2018 did an exceptional job.

As you can see by this example card…

It includes original deck creator, u/lolnotacop’s, additional card add-ons (covering HPV etc) as well as cards matching up to the following Boards and Beyond videos:

  • Basics of Micro
  • Protozoa
  • Virus Structure

    The deck is structured with its microbiology section separated. Suspend all the cards in the pharmacology (drugs) category to stop them showing.

    This is how it’s organized….

You’ll want to download the hierarchical tags plug-in to quickly find the topics you’ll want to study.

DerpyMD’s work does a really nice job of sorting the tags to match the chapters of Sketchy Micro.

Also bear in mind that you don’t need to have Sketchy Micro to use this deck – you can just as well benefit from the included images.

The whole deck is 5766 cards in total (including the pharmacology sections).

Why would you want to use this over Zanki? Simplicity possibly. It won’t overwhelm you as much as Zanki nor is it as big of a download.

Download lolnotacop here


Pepper Deck

Deck Type: Medical microbiology
Cards:950
Card Format:Basic
Year of Upload:2017
Required Plugins:N/A
Download Size:118 Mb

Pepper’s microbio deck is incredibly useful for two reasons; one, it’s super short (giving a quick overview of major microbio topics) and two, it’s again great to use with Sketchy Micro.

For a busy med student who doesn’t want to go that deep into Anki (and avoid the 4000+ card decks above), it’s a good solution.

Cards are basic format type.

Creator u/pepper originally made pharm, pathology (Pathoma) and UWorld decks to go with the microbio one. You’ll find links to each in the thread (if you’re interested).

Note: Anking’s update on Zanki pulls several cards from this deck to cover topics/subjects they thought were originally lacking or incomplete.

Download Pepper deck here

Additional Information On Microbiology Anki Decks

Lightyear Microbiology

One more deck that’s worthy of a mention here is the popular Lightyear deck that’s based on Boards and Beyond’s video series.

Released in 2018, there is a good number of microbiology-related flashcards in this deck but it’s definitely not as comprehensive as Zanki (Anking’s version).

Something that is interesting (and potentially useful) about this deck though is the card format. Lightyear uses mainly basic card (front and back) format much more than cloze.

For someone who prefers this style of flashcard-based learning, it’s a solid choice.

Recommended Microbiology Flashcard Resource

My recommended resource for learning medical microbiology is Picmonic (see my review). Picmonic is designed to sync directly with Anki via the exclusive plug-in. It’s whole platform is built on exceptionally memorable mnemonics with quiz questions and spaced repetition baked in.

A cheaper alternative to Picmonic, and one that’s great for students who prefer the old-school style of learning, is Lippincott’s Microcards: Microbiology Flash Cards.

The text is a little small but the cards are well-made, embossed and laminated and have everything you need to help do well in the subject.

Recommended Microbiology Textbook Resource

The gold standard Microbiology textbook (for all courses) is Tortora, Funke and Case’s Microbiology: An Introduction.

Most U.S. students swear by this and praise it for it’s comprehensiveness and high quality images and diagrams. Get it on hire because it’s expensive!

It’s a bit of a beast at 960 pages, but it will have everything you could possibly need.

Related Microbiology Flashcard Questions

Top Tips For Using Anki Microbiology Flashcard Decks

  • Don’t use Anki as a crutch or expect it to be a “magic bullet”: you do still need to do practice questions and look over your class materials!
  • Suspend (Ctrl + S) all cards in each deck first, then unlock the relevant topics as you go
  • Keep up with your reviews: let Anki’s spaced repetition algorithm do it’s thing
  • Edit the cards with your own notes: don’t be afraid to add more images or personal mnemonics to specific cards
  • Be patient: just because you don’t feel a deck is working doesn’t mean it isn’t (it can take days to get used to)

Why Use An Anki Microbiology Deck?

  • Free to use and download
  • Saves time
  • Has most of the relevant media in one place (helping you stay focused)
  • Offers the most high yield concepts (created with the 80/20 rule in mind)
  • Mnemonic heavy – perfect for memorization

Where To Find More Anki Microbiology Decks

The best place to find existing and new, upcoming Anki Microbiology decks for medical microbiology is the r/medicalschoolanki community.

Using the search function there can uncover hidden gems that otherwise aren’t featured on the community sidebar along with all other popular subject-specific Anki decks.

For MCAT-related microbiology study (which is less heavy), there are dedicated Anki decks too. I cover the best ones in this article; 6 Best MCAT Anki Decks: Crush The MCAT (2021).

For people studying general microbiology that aren’t in med school (or preparing for it), you’ll find the decks above helpful.

They might not have everything you need (depending on the content of your course) but they offer a strong foundation.

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.

Here’s a good primer 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.

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: Best Anki Decks For Microbiology

Microbiology is hard. Using high quality premade Anki decks to tackle the subject makes a lot easier.

Why start from scratch when a lot of the work has already been done for you?


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Image Credit: @thisisengineering at Unsplash