Alternative to ask-all cards at the end of an ordered process

For all med students out here, do you also make a card in Anki where it asks you to recite entire processes after having made cards for each step?

I do but they are quite quite painful. I almost always have to press again on them because I end up making a mistake in one step during the recitation

Reciting the entire process over and over again after pressing again gobbles up a lot of time.

At the same time, I want to be able to recite the process fluidly.

What is a good alternative to the ask-all cards?

1 Like

I don’t think the problem you’re having necessarily comes from the ask-all cards, but the way you’re studying the individual steps.

Once a process exceeds a certain length, maybe it’s better to group the steps a bit, so instead of a single card for a single step, maybe do one card for 3 steps.

In the end it’s all about forming connections - remembering a step will be easier if you’ve connected more steps to it than just the previous one. In my experience, breaking complex topics down to the level of isolated facts is just as inefficient as writing it all on one card. You’ll have to find the right balance :balance_scale:


I’m not a med student (yet) but I find recalling everything in one go very helpful. If there are points where you can naturally break things up then I’m okay but otherwise I’d want to recite whole pathways for instance, in one go.

I actually kind of doubt how useful SRS is when you’re trying to remember things that you can’t really describe as facts. For some stuff understanding how everything fits into the picture maybe a more demanding part of the process.


Would acronyms be helpful in this case and rather make an ask-all card for the acronym and then making individual cards for each step be a sound alternative?

Acronyms are good, mnemonics even better, but they’re just tools - the difference-maker is the architecture of your notes. In my experience, the minimum information principle doesn’t really apply to processes.

Say you want to learn the different G-protein coupled receptor signal transduction pathways:

If you made a card for every step of each pathway, you’d end up with > 20 cards. And you’ll still struggle to remember them.

If however you grouped them in some way that makes sense, you got two big advantages:

  1. While figuring out how to group the steps, you’re already studying the process.
  2. Grouped items are easier to remember (up to a certain threshold, for me it’s around 4) and you can form mnemonics for them.

The first card could ask which types of G-coupled receptors there are, and then you could create one card for each pathway → 5 cards. Since Gi and Gs affect the same pathway downstream, you could reduce it to 4 cards.

“But if the threshold for grouped items is around 4, what about the yellow highlighted proteins affected by cAMP?” - That’s where acronyms/mnemonics come into play. They’re ways to abstract away the complexity. Sure, you’ll need to go through the letters (or funky characters, whatever your mnemonic is) to fetch the facts, but it is much more efficient than forcefully carving standalone facts into your brain.

Same principle applies to data structures in computer science. The ones allowing for the fastest data retrieval usually take up more memory (=resource intensive, in our case literally requiring new synaptic connections to form), while the memory efficient ones require more elaborate information retrieval (in our case, taking a little detour using things we’ve already formed strong connections for). It’s always a tradeoff.

(Also please don’t study individual steps in signal cascades - I just used it as an example. Most pharmacology profs don’t ask for each step in such pathways, they just want to hear some key proteins involved in the process, e.g. the limiting factors or attackpoints for drugs, and those are usually somewhere way upstream.)

1 Like