When staring at a blank Anki screen attempting to make new cards, it is far too easy to create ineffective cards that will hinder your studies rather than help. With how important the DAT is, we don’t want to waste any study time. This article will discuss the two most important types of flashcards to make while studying for the DAT. These card types will comprise 90-95% of your flashcards, so understand each and their use cases will be key. The two flashcard types are:
1. ⚛ Atomized cards only test a single fact, i.e. you have broken down information to a single, indivisible fact (aka an atom!). An example of an atomized card would look like:
- Front: If a bacterium has a thick peptidoglycan layer, what kind of bacteria is it?
- Back: Gram-Positive
The majority of your Anki cards should be atomized cards. This is because it is easier to complete and learn from cards that only test one fact at a time. Once you begin testing 2+ facts per card, you will increase the time it takes to complete each individual card. In addition, what happens if you know one fact but not the other on a single card? You will have to continuously redo that card for the part you do not know and will be needlessly reinforcing the fact you already know. Having only one fact per card will allow you to go through your cards faster and make it easier to hone in on information that you are struggling with.
2. 🧠 Comprehensive cards test multiple atomized cards at one. These kinds of cards are great for memorizing mechanisms or long lists of qualities. However, I also recommend making atomized cards for all the individual facts that are within a comprehensive card. This way, you are learning and testing each individual part separately and testing your integration of all the individual facts. Here is an example of a comprehensive card:
- Front: Explain the differences between Gram-Positive and Gram-Negative bacteria Back: List all the qualities of each
or Front: Outline the FSH & LH hormone levels throughout a single menstruation cycle
- Back: Entire outline of hormone levels + accompanying images
Conclusion: Each type of card serves a different purpose. For the atomized cards, the aim is to learn individual facts within a specific concept, while comprehensive cards aim to test your ability to integrate multiple atomic facts together. Testing yourself on both is important. If you only used comprehensive cards, it would be very difficult to learn each individual fact. If you only used discrete cards, your ability to integrate all the information would be hindered. Therefore, make both. You will be able to learn the discrete cards quickly and then practice integrating these facts within the entire structure of the overall concept.
Take these tools with you in your content review and test review! Be sure to check out my other articles where I discuss the ins and outs of Anki and provide more tips & trick tailored to DAT use!