5 Best Pharmacology Anki Decks: Learn Pharmacology Fast (2021)

Pharmacology is no joke. You’ll have to remember a ton of drug classifications and a mountain of mechanisms to do well. Memorization is crucial.

Luckily, thanks to some hard-working and diligent pharmacology students who’ve gone before you, you’ve got some very effective help!

Their Anki decks? Here to save you a huge ton of effort, stress and anxiety…

The Best Pharmacology Anki Decks

The 5 decks we’ll be looking at are:

  • Zanki Pharmacology
  • Lolnotacop’s Deck (Sketchy Pharm)
  • Pepper Deck
  • NourishedStudio’s Sketchy Pharmacology On Anki
  • Aervien’s First Aid Pharmacology Anki Deck

These decks offer different approaches to memorizing some of the more high yield facts related to pharmacology. Some are more comprehensive than others, while others are faster to run through.

All are obviously free! Download them on your computer and open the package files up in your Anki desktop app.

Zanki Pharmacology

Deck Type:Pharmacology
Cards:5000+
Card Format:Cloze
Year of Upload:2020
Required Plugins:Hierarchical Tags 2
Download Size:3.2 Gb (Anking version)
Download Link:Zanki (Anking version)

If you’re looking to completely master pharmacology and have plenty of time to play with, Zanki (Anking version) is the Anki deck for you.

This is the deck I used to sail through my pharmacology finals just a short couple of weeks back. It’s a beautiful beast. A deck that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Thanks to the way the Anking version overhauls the tags, it’s incredibly easy to use (granted you download the free plug-in Hierarchical Tags). You can either search for specific concepts by keywords in the browser or unlock groups of cards depending on whatever primary resource you’re using.

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

  • First Aid for USMLE
  • Boards and Beyond Micro
  • Sketchy Pharmacology
  • UWorld pharmacology-based questions and concepts

The media files for each are usually included in the Extra section of the cards. This helps keep you focused from distraction while you chip away at individual sections. The cloze (fill-in-the-gap) style cards are super effective for speed too.

Here’s how a typical card looks…

The entire lolnotacop deck is incorporated into this deck along with all other Sketchy Pharm chapters. Completing all cards will give you very wide coverage of most pharmacology courses.

Pharmacology topics you’ll cover:

  • General Pharmacology
  • Antimicrobials
  • Antineoplastics
  • Blood and Inflammation
  • GI & Endocrine
  • Immunology & Biochemistry Pharmacologic concepts
  • Reproductive
  • Smooth Mucle
  • Autonomic Drugs
  • Cardiovascular $ Renal
  • Neuro/Psych

Simply the best pharmacology anki deck available.

Download the Zanki (Anking) Pharmacology deck here.

Note: You’ll want to suspend (or delete) all the other Zanki content not relevant to Pharmacology. Zanki (Anking) is a comprehensive deck covering all the medical sciences.


Lolnotacop’s Deck (Sketchy Pharm)

Deck Type: Pharmacology
Cards:1256
Card Format:Cloze
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:Hierarchical Tags 2
Download Size:272 Mb
Download Link:Download lolnotacop

Lolnotacop’s pharmacology deck, based on the hugely popular Sketchy Pharm video series, has been around in various guises for several years now. Many of the cards in this deck make up a large chunk of Zanki’s antimicrobial and antiviral pharmacology section.

Reddit user u/DerpyMD’s overhaul of Lolnotacop separates it into two components: bugs (microbiology) and drugs (pharmacology).

It’s pharm section is less comprehensive than it’s micro section but serves as sufficient intro to the following drug classes:

  • Antifungals
  • Antimicrobials
  • Antineoplastics
  • Antivirals
  • Gout drugs

    Here’s an example card from the deck…

You’ll see the deck includes additional information from the relevant chapters (and diagrams) in First Aid For USMLE too.

Suspend (Ctrl + S) all the cards in the bugs category to only see the pharmacology-related cards.

This is how the decks are organized….

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

Only use this deck if you want an overview of the drug classifications described. You’ll save yourself the space and overwhelm that Zanki can bring but you won’t have comprehensive coverage of an entire pharma course.

Download lolnotacop here


Pepper Deck

Deck Type: Pharmacology
Cards:1300
Card Format:Basic
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:N/A
Download Size:159 Mb
Download Link:Download Pepper deck here

Pepper’s Deck, just like the microbiology version, is designed to be used hand in hand with Sketchy Pharm.

It’s different to Zanki in the way the cards are formatted. Most of the cards here are basic (front-to-back) flashcards. Super useful for people who feel they don’t retain anything from cloze due to familiarity with the card rather than the concept.

Take a look at this example card for instance…

The cards are well-designed not to overload the user but definitely present more of a conceptual challenge that translates well into case-based pharmacology questions.

You’ll want to run through Sketchy and unsuspend the cards relevant to each video you watch.

Download Pepper deck here

NourishedStudio’s Sketchy Pharmacology On Anki

Deck Type: Pharmacology
Cards:1158
Card Format:Basic
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:N/A
Download Size:158 Mb
Download Link:Download NourishedStudio’s Sketchy Pharm Anki

u/NourishedStudio’s Sketchy Pharmacology Anki deck is a relative newcomer, released into the wild after both lolnotacop and Anking’s first overhaul of Zanki. Again, it’s focused on Sketchy Pharm.

Put together to help her score well in both USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1, the creator claims she “still remembers [all the cards]” and uses this knowledge in her clinical rotations.

What’s different about this Sketchy deck compared to the ones above:

  • Contains cropped portions of the larger sketch: thus helping you focus on one small detail at a time
  • Smaller than the decks above: giving a faster introduction to the most high yield content
  • Formatting: no cloze-style cards

That last point is very important. The cards in this deck actually force you to remember the mnemonic (or picture segment) without any prompt. This makes overall recall of the sketch more powerful and helps reinforce all of the associations.

Here’s how a sample card looks…


You’ll see there are further useful memory hooks and other interesting notes and facts added by NourishedStudio herself.

There are also screenshots included here taken from relevant UWorld questions.

Unlike lolnotacop it covers more drug classes, including:

  • Autonomic drugs
  • Blood and inflammation
  • Cardio and renal
  • GI & Endocrine

You can see the full list (and broader organization) in the image below. It lacks the tagging system of Zanki (Anking).

Another handy deck to experiment with if you’re not feeling the cloze-format type cards of the other decks on this list.

Download NourishedStudio’s Sketchy Pharm Anki

Note: There is also a microbiology deck built by NourishedStudio with the same formatting – it’s not included in my best microbiology anki decks post but it could be worth checking out! Download at the same link.


Aervien’s First Aid Pharmacology Anki Deck

Deck Type: Pharmacology
Cards:1240
Card Format:Cloze
Year of Upload:2017
Required Plugins:N/A
Download Size:5.24 Mb
Download Link:Download Aervien’s Deck

Another deck that’s worth a quick shout; especially if you’re a fan of First Aid for USMLE and are really down on time, is this 1035 card by Reddit user’s Aervien and TracyMcGrady1991.

It’s based on the 2017 version of the book so is a tiny bit outdated (there’s only a few amendments between 2017 vs 2021), but it’s still a nice alternative option.

The cards are nicely designed…

There’s no antimicrobial section (so you’ll need lolnotacop’s deck to fill in the missing content) but it is all cloze format.

If you just want to drill the relevant pharm sections from the organ system chapters of First Aid, then this is the deck.

Download Aervien’s Deck

Additional Information On Pharmacology Anki Decks

Lightyear Pharmacology

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 pharma-related flashcards in this deck but it’s definitely not as comprehensive as Zanki (Anking’s version).

The pharmacology tag inside this deck (87 cards) is focused on pharmacokinetics, drug elimination and dose response. The separate organ system tags have their own pharmacology-related cards too.

Something that is interesting (and potentially useful) about this deck is the card format. Lightyear is different to Zanki in that it uses the basic card (front and back), cloze and image occlusion formats.

Here’s an example card…

For someone who prefers a mixed style of flashcard-based learning (or anyone exclusively using Boards and Beyond), it’s a good choice.

Recommended Pharmacology Flashcard Resource

My recommended resource for learning pharmacology is Sketchy Pharm. Like Picmonic (see review), it’s a video series built on memorable mnemonics and story telling. USMLE students swear by its efficacy, often saying they recall the facts taught here years after their finals. An important reason it makes up UFAPS.

A cheaper alternative to these mnemonic-based video platforms, and one that’s great for students who prefer the old-school style of learning, is Pharm Phlash! Pharmacology Flash Cards.

These cards have an awesome color-coded organization that helps you make faster associations with each drug class – as well containing all the key info (route, dosage, abbreviations, indexes etc.) you’ll need to ace any nursing or medical pharmacology exam.

They’re the number one bestseller in their class on Amazon for that reason.

Recommended Pharmacology Textbook Resource

Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews Pharmacology. At 576 pages, it’s probably the most comprehensive guide to pharma out there. You won’t have to go anywhere else to reference info if you have a copy of this on hand.

Great not just for med students – but for pharmacy, nursing and physician assistant students too – it’s a book that’s much easier to read than others in the Lippincott’s series (yes, biochemistry, I’m looking at you).

Alongside the Anki decks above, I got a lot out of this!

Related Pharmacology Flashcard Questions

Top Tips For Using Anki Pharmacology Flashcard Decks

  • When editing or adding to your decks keep one fact to a card: Pharmacology is detail heavy and it’s near impossible to remember mechanisms, names etc altogether on a single card.
  • Don’t just rely on flashcards for mastering the content: Practice with lots of questions banks. A great free one is Pharmacology2000, there’s a ton of MCQ quizzes there all categorized by drug type etc.
  • You don’t need watch all of Sketchy Pharm to use of these decks: the images are intuitive enough to show you the mnemonic without the need to watch the whole video.

Why Use An Anki Pharmacology Deck?

  • Excellent free resource
  • Saves time making your own cards while covering the most high yield principles

Where To Find More Anki Pharmacology Decks

The best place to find existing and new, upcoming Anki Pharmacology decks 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.

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 Pharmacology

Pharmacology is one of the more necessary subjects to find good flashcards for. So much of it is rote memorization!

Using great premade Anki decks to help with that can save you a huge amount of time and effort.

You’ll be in a good position by choosing any of the options recommended here.


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Image Credit: @Diana Polekhina at Unsplash