Medical Student Recommends 4 Digital Study Tools

Published in Insight - October 2016

It’s convenient to go online and look up a fact when you forget it, but medical students taking a board exam don’t have that option. Prior to the exam, however, students are going online to master the material. Benjamin Ostrander, a third-year medical student, recommends four digital study tools to prepare for the board exams.

1. Picmonic. Animated interactive videos at bring anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology and more to life. “Silly images take you through a humorous story,” says Ostrander. “Research shows people remember visual information better than written information, and Picmonic takes advantage of this.” It also lets users review material and answer questions to test their knowledge. 

Cost: Memberships including an app start at $25 per month.

2. SketchyMedical. At, a narrator speaks while an invisible hand draws a sketch. Users watch while the setting and characters take shape, and they hear explanations to make connections between the sketches and the material. Topics include microbes and drugs.

Cost: Subscriptions start at $169 for a six-month plan. No app is available.

3. Khan Academy. Online videos present lectures on numerous topics, including science, at Instead of a chalkboard or PowerPoint, instructors use electronic boards to write notes or draw diagrams while speaking. Practice exercises are also available.

Cost: Website and app are free.

4. Anki. At, users make custom digital flashcards featuring words or images. Ostrander first used Anki to tackle microbiology. “It’s better than paper cards because you can tell Anki to show you difficult cards more frequently and easy cards less often,” he says. Flashcard decks created and shared by other users are also available through an online search.

Cost: Website is free. App costs $24.99.