Anki anatomy

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How to Learn Anatomy in Medical School with Anki7 min read

What anatomy do I need to know for my school’s exams? What anatomy do I need to know for Step 1? In this post, I’ll take you through two Anki decks that have helped me understand anatomy in medical school, perform well on anatomy practicals, and prepare for Step 1.

Disclaimer: this is not a replacement for the Cadaver Lab! If your school has a physical cadaver lab use it as much as you can. Actually handling and seeing the dissected human body is an amazing opportunity and a gift. I’m missing it dearly during this pandemic (the post was written on 11/6/2020).

My priority for Step 1 would be AnKing > 100 Concepts >>>>>> Michigan

My priority for your in-house exams would be Michigan >> 100 concepts > AnKing

Michigan Deck + Questions


This is going to be your “school-specific” beast. The Michigan Anki deck is huge but has fantastic pictures and image occlusions. This is as close as it will look to what you see in the Anatomy lab.

So how do you study for your exams using this deck? All medical schools should give you a structure list you need to know, for example, this is the first 1/4th of the list from the University of Michigan on Back and Spinal cord. Just the first 1/4th…

So what I would do the day before I go into the anatomy lab, or, in dire times, two/three days before my practical exam, is search through the Michigan deck for these structures, unsuspend those cards, and learn them.

The only painful thing here is the search bar won’t work as this deck is tagged broadly to groups. Don’t try searching the bones or muscles as they won’t show up. You need to go to the sidebar, where each section is tagged, and search through it.

Whenever you find a relevant structure, unsuspend that card.

The next thing I highly recommend is the University of Michigan anatomy questions. If you do all of these questions and understand them, it will be very hard for you to do poorly on your school’s anatomy exam (or it should be).

Finally, once you take your exam, re-suspend these cards. They are low-yield for Step 1.

Bottom Line: Study the structures you need to know for your school from the University of Michigan Anki deck. Then do the Michigan questions for those anatomy sections for your school’s practical anatomy exams.


I love the AnKing. If you don’t know about it you can check out my setup guide here, and how I use it to study daily in medical school here.

In regards to anatomy, however, the AnKing still is great. Just go through your lectures and third-party content and unsuspend as you normally do and the AnKing’s anatomy will pop-up throughout.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2020-12-03-at-7.50.59-PM-1024x515.png

As a double-check I usually scroll through the Zanki subdeck I am currently on (go to deck browser and not tag browser, “AnKing” -> “Zanki Step Decks” -> Specific Deck). I do this to make sure I am not missing any relevant content at the end of very week. If I did anatomy that week my perusing will include looking for anatomy cards. I would sort by date created before you look.

However, I found AnKing severely lacking when it comes to my school’s practical anatomy exams and some Step 1 anatomy information.

You will not do well on your school’s practical exam if you just use the AnKing. You need to supplement it with other resources like the Michigan anatomy deck.

Bottom Line: After learning some section of Anatomy at your school, scroll through that Zanki subdeck, by date created, and unsuspend any anatomy relevant cards.

100 Concepts Anatomy


Whatever the AnKing missed in regards to Step 1-relevant anatomy the 100 concepts anatomy deck fills in. This is a small deck with only 300 cards.

How I would use it is after we learned something in an anatomy lecture or the anatomy lab I would scroll through this deck until I found the relevant content and unsuspend and learn those cards. Sort by date created as they are created in a logical order.

Yes, there might be the occasional overlap with the AnKing deck. You don’t need to worry about it though, this is only 300 cards, it will make a negligible difference in your daily card count. If you really think you are seeing content redundantly just use the search function and suspend the card if there is overlap.

Bottom Line: After learning anatomy go to the 100 Concepts deck and unsuspend the relevant information. Don’t worry about the overlap with the AnKing deck.


So how would I use all of this together? In an ideal world, before the cadaver lab, I would learn all of the structures from the Michigan Anki deck and learn all the rest of the information about these structures from AnKing and the 100 Concepts deck. Then, come exam time, I have been reviewing continuously with the Anki algorithm anyway so I know this information.

Medical school is not the ideal world. I do not have time to go through and memorize the structures during the regular week, I just couldn’t do it. What I ended up doing, that worked, was to learn the AnKing information and 100 Concepts cards’ information during regular school weeks. Then, cram the Michigan Anatomy Anki information the day or two before the exam. I know this goes against everything Anki is meant for but I only need this information, for now, for this one specific practical exam. The AnKing and 100 concepts information I will need for Step 1.

Then, after I take the practical exam, I resuspend the Michigan cards. The information is too low-yield to add to my daily card count.

The University of Michigan Anki deck will help you crush your in-house anatomy practical exams, but after the practical re-suspend those cards.

In regards to clinically-oriented questions, the AnKing should be able to hold you over along with the Michigan practice questions.

Finally, for Step1, the 100 Concepts deck will fill the few anatomy blanks AnKing has.

Happy studying!


Bottom Bottom Line: Learn the AnKing information and 100 Concepts cards’ information during regular school weeks. Then, cram the Michigan Anatomy Anki information the day or two before the exam. Use the physical cadaver as much as you can if you have access to one.


There’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to picking up Anki but it’s definitely worth it. Download the app (free) and you’ve thousands of user-generated study decks for free at your fingertips. There’s simply no better way of studying than with digital flashcards.

Thankfully the Anki community is fantastic when it comes to comprehensive anatomy decks. Using the excellent r/medicalschoolanki as a source, here’s a round up of the seven best of them.

The Best Anatomy Anki Decks

The 7 decks we’ll be looking at are:

  • Anatoking
  • Apple’s Neuroanatomy
  • Dope Anatomy
  • Dorian’s Anatomy
  • Ranatomy
  • Complete UMich Cadaver
  • Hoop’s Anatomy Lab

You’ll find these decks cover a range of basic, pre-med and medical school anatomy. While others have a more specialised focus; anatomy labs, neuroanatomy etc.

Note: I’ve also listed plugins (you can download these 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.


Deck Type:Anatomy Lab
Card Format:Image Occlusion, Basic
Year of Upload:2020
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion, Hierarchical Tags 2
Download Size:1.3 Gb

Anatoking is a great deck for mastering one of the trickiest of disciplines; anatomy lab.

Created in October of 2020, this deck builds on basic, advanced and medical school anatomy classes (and is tagged as such for your benefit).

Sources used to build the Anatoking deck include Colored Atlas of Anatomy (Rohen’s), Pocket Atlas of Human Anatomy and VH Dissector.

You can check out my general guide for tips on how to study for anatomy practical (11 best ways) here.

This deck covers:

  • All the major structures
  • Every muscle
  • Origins, insertions, actions and innervation

Where it might be a bit sparse is neuroanatomy. There are a few cards omitted from the deck due to copyright issues.

What makes this deck great is its formatting. Each card highlights the number of a structure on the front side of a card. Saving you time scanning the photo to find the number in question. Here’s how that looks…

r/medicalschoolanki - AnatoKing v1 [King of Anatomy Decks]

This differs from the Dope Anatomy deck by offering several new cards testing different structures. The deck creator also suggests new updates (including a JPEG to PNG image conversion to save space) are on the way.

Possibly too detailed for USMLE Step 1 but great for general MBBS anatomy courses.

You can download it from this page.

Apple’s Neuroanatomy

Deck Type:Neuroanatomy
Card Format:Image Occlusion, Basic
Year of Upload:2019
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion, Hierarchical Tags 2
Download Size:105 Mb

Apple’s Neuroanatomy is a very short yet effective deck. It’s based on the Interactive Neuroanatomy Atlas from Colombia University and includes cards on the brain stem, thalamus and spinal cord.

Unlike the 2D cross-section representations of neuroanatomy that many flashcards use (namely Anking’s deck for Step 1), Apple’s Neuroanatomy uses histological slides and colored highlighting to teach the fundamentals.

r/medicalschoolanki - Apple's Neuroanatomy Deck - Brain Stem and Spinal Cord Cross-Sections

According to users of the deck, it’s very centered on the high yield topics from neuro likely to show up on Step1.

It’s tagging system makes it easy to work with too. It looks like this…

You can download it from this page.

Dope Anatomy

Deck Type:General Anatomy
Card Format:Image Occlusion, Basic
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion
Download Size:87 Mb

Dope Anatomy is considered one of the gold standards when it comes to comprehensive anatomy decks. Actually part of a three deck series with Medical Science and Clinical Medicine, the anatomy component is an update of the earlier Netter anatomy deck (no longer available).

It’s well worth downloading each part of Dope here as the Medical Science deck has lots of neuroanatomy cards available built off Nolte’s Neuroanatomy and Neuroanatomy Through Clinical Cases. You can search for relevant cards for class and move them into a single Dope-based deck if you think that would help.

There’s also a very helpful update on both the Dope Anatomy and Ranatomy decks that overhauls the tagging system. This makes it much easier to work with sections of anatomy (lower limb: muscles etc) in an order that makes sense to you. That’s available here.

This is the deck I used to ace to anatomy. I can’t recommend it enough!

You can download Dope Anatomy from this page.

Dorian’s Anatomy

Deck Type:Clinical Anatomy
Card Format:Image Occlusion, Cloze, Basic
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion
Download Size:47 Mb

I remember using Dorian’s Anatomy deck a couple years back when I was going through my anatomy finals. It’s an amazing resource. Short too at just under 300 cards.

What I enjoyed about was it’s focus on clinical anatomy. Learning about the pathologies that anatomical dysfunction causes, I managed to build a solid foundation on future medical topics using this deck.

All the cards are based on St Matthew’s University School of Medicine 100 Most Important Gross Anatomy Concepts, put together by Dr. Mavrych. You can download this here. Well worth it!

Here’s how the deck looks in action. It’s mostly clozed-format (fill in the gap) style.

A very visual and fun deck to learn very high yield concepts of anatomy in no time at all.

You can download Dorian’s deck here.


Deck Type:Anatomy Lab
Card Format:Image Occlusion
Year of Upload:2018
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion
Download Size:8.47 Mb

Rohen’s Atlas is based on the same resource as Anatoking’s deck (Rohen) but is a little more tried and tested – I actually used this myself ahead of my tricky anatomy lab practicals too.

Built on the same formatting (imageocclusion) as the Anettermy deck, estel95 (the creator of this deck), threw it together by taking high-res images of a legally acquired PDF version of the book and categorising it accordingly.

You can download the Ranatomy deck here.

Complete UMich Cadaver

Deck Type:Anatomy Lab
Card Format:Image Occlusion
Year of Upload:2020
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion
Download Size:650 Mb

The perfect deck for learning anatomy online for free (for pre-meds and everyone else), the Complete UMich Cadaver deck is organised by the categorisation over at University of Michican Blue Link Atlas.

A big fan of UMich’s stuff – I use their question banks and pathology stuff all the time – it’s amazing to have a resource like this that you can use to follow along with their content and build your anatomy understanding.

Lovely looking formatting too…

You can download the Complete UMich Cadaver deck here.

Hoop’s Anatomy Lab

Deck Type:Anatomy Lab
Card Format:Image Occlusion
Year of Upload:2019
Required Plugins:Image Occlusion
Download Size:8,47 Mb

Hoop’s is another gross anatomy lab deck that offers good value except for a comprehensive neuroanatomy section. It’s uses are mainly for surgery rotations (clerkships) and cadaver labs. Not for Step 1 or 2 based study.

Similar to Anatoking, Hoop’s also has numbered structures on its cards that it’ll ask you to name. Unlike Anatoking these aren’t highlighted however so can take a few seconds to scan!

Here’s how Hoops cards look…

Personally I’d go for other decks on this list due to the formatting issue. But it’s still nice to know it’s around.

You can download Hoop’s Anatomy Lab deck here.

Recommended Anatomy Flashcard Resource

If you’d prefer to keep your flashcards analog and aren’t a fan of digital, then I’ve got you covered.

Netters’ Anatomy Flashcards are the best set for your needs. The illustrations are top notch, the facts are on point and you don’t need any electronic hardware or software to make them work for you.

Recommended Anatomy Textbook Resource

To supplement your flashcard-based learning it pays to have a good anatomy textbook on hand to better contextualize your learning.

My favorite resource (that I used to score high in anatomy) was Gray’s Anatomy for Students.

I read over the electronic version of this along with doing flashcards and really expanded my knowledge.

Related Anki Flashcard 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 (as well as a good intro on what they offer) below…

Top Tips For Using Anki Anatomy Flashcard Decks

Why Use An Anki Anatomy Deck?

  • They’re free
  • Helps you save time putting together flashcards of your own
  • You can rely on the hard work of dedicated med students who’ve gone before you
  • Saves stress from having to work out what’s high yield enough to memorize

Where to Find More Anki Anatomy Decks

The best place to find more excellent user generated anatomy decks is the r/medicalschoolanki community. If something gets moved up to the sidebar then you know it’s been vetted and is of good quality.

Related Anki Questions

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.

The code for image occlusion is 1374772155. 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 Anatomy

Anatomy is heavy and there’s an awful lot of it!

Learning from flashcards though is always my first recommendation to any students about to dip into it.

Flashcards help with active recall and making sure you memorize the subject effectively.

If you enjoyed this post, you might find the following articles useful:


Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.

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6 Anki Decks That All Medical Students Need to Use

Don’t Rely 100% on the Information in the Decks

Although most of the information is likely to be accurate, you can’t be completely sure. Mistakes are always going to occur when someone is making thousands of flashcards.

Therefore, it might be good to mix and match with other decks to ensure there aren’t any contradictions.

You don’t need to be too cautious though. If you ever find that you learned something wrong from a deck then you can simply re-learn it in the future. You won’t have to do this for many cards so it’s worth it to have blind faith and trust the deck creator.

Don’t Download Every Deck

While it might be tempting to download half the decks that I have listed here, it is best if you stick to a couple of your favourite decks.

Each deck contains a vast number of cards and so downloading any more than 3 is going to overwhelm you.

Get the Right Add-ons

For a lot of these decks, you probably don’t need any particular add-on.

Other than the image occlusion add-on, you can get away with using vanilla Anki. However, I would suggest that you at least do some research and find some add-ons that can complement the way you work in Anki.

If you aren’t sure where to start, then take a look at my list of 10 Anki add-ons for medical students.

Combine Anki With Question Banks

Just using Anki on its own isn’t going to be enough. You need to combine it with other resources like question banks to make it worthwhile.

Quesmed is a good place to start if you aren’t sure where to start. I have a review about them which you can check out here.

Read My Article About Anki Tips and Tricks

This article will give you 10 useful Anki tips and tricks that will set you up nicely for the future.

If you enjoyed this article, then please share it with your friends and colleagues. It takes a lot of effort to make these and as a busy medical student, I can use all the help I can get to make this venture worthwhile.

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