Learning Medicine

Learning Medicine
The Ultimate Guide to Study Skills in Medical School

DrWillBe Pathology Anki Deck

Pathology is the foundation of a physician's knowledge about disease. For that reason, Pathology is arguably the most important subject to learn in the pre-clinical years. And, for Step 1, there is no subject that is more highly represented.

The problem, however, is that there is so much to learn and to remember. Given the volume of information one needs to know to master pathology for med school and Step 1, we need a system to keep it all in our heads. That system is Anki, which I've written about extensively on this blog.

If you're new to Anki, first check out my Anki for Medical Students Guide. Then go to Anki's Website and download this amazing, free software.

OK, so you've got Anki. But now you'll need some cards to study. Sure, you could make your own. But that takes a lot of time. More time than most students have. For many students, a better option would be to use a high-quality, thorough and proven Pathology deck. In this way, you can focus on just absorbing the material, rather than trying to capture it all in cards. This is a huge time saver.

I want to help medical students achieve their learning goals, and so I've made my Anki decks freely available on this site. I spent 100's of hours making and refining those cards, and it brings me great joy to know that other people are benefitting from them. 

My most popular and best deck by far has been my Pathology deck. It's a great deck, but I wanted to make it even better. So I went back and did some refinements and added some new material.

New Features in the DrWillBe Pathology Anki Deck
  • Nearly 200 new cards based on high-yield Step 1 concepts
  • A completely new media set with sourced images (500+ images)
  • Entirely new organization with consistent tags. 
  • Perfect for use alongside your courses or any popular Pathology resource
  • Organized by system (cardiovascular, pulmonary, etc.)
  • Clearer formatting of cards
  • Many 'Low-yield' cards removed
  • Reviewed and edited by team of medical students

I'm confident that this new Pathology deck will be a huge help to many of you in your medical school and Step 1 studies. You can read about my own experience with these cards here. But don't just take my word for it. 

Listen to what some other people who used this deck, as well as my others.
"There are other ways to learn pathology, but not other ways to learn it well. Using these Anki decks has revolutionized my studying habits, made me a better student and lead me to a dream Step 1 score. This path deck is all you need to ace whatever test you have coming up. And to remember what you learned for the rest of your career!" - Josh G.
"Dr.Willbe's deck is amazing! It is fully detailed and makes learning effortless and fun!Since starting anki a few months ago my nbme scores have all increased by an average of 20 points! I can attest that Anki really works! Trust me if you were stuck like me this really helps! I was studying massive amounts of material spending countless hours watching videos doing questions etc. As soon as I started Anki I became more efficient.  Anki makes learning so much more efficient! I wish I did this before...

Anki only works when you are persistent so stick with it each day. I have not missed a single review day in my months of study so anki also provides you with discipline! If I miss one day my reviews rack up so in order to avoid this I must be consistent everyday! I don't mind at all because anki makes learning fun and enjoyable instead of forced study.Best of Luck guys! Again thanks again Dr. Willbe your decks are some of the best I have ever seen!" - Emaad H.
"Hey Dr.Willbe I have followed your step 1 deck religiously! Passed step 1 thanks to your help!" -Salatzo C
"Got my results and Passed!!  Thank You!!  I have been having such a difficult time with this exam and your deck took me to the promise land!!  It's like I am your biggest fan lol Can't wait to start your flash cards for step2 ck!!" - Emaad H.
 "Amazing work! I'm an MS2 and I've told my school about how awesome Anki is and trying to get 1st years to do it too."  -Daniel S.
 "[I've] been using dr. willbe's anki deck for M2 thus far and in terms of $/utility it's one of my top resources." - witzelsucht (poster on Student Doctor Network)

If you're still not convinced, you can check out a sample from the new Pathology deck.
This is the full Cardiac Pathology section of the deck - 434 cards for free.

Download Sample from Pathology Anki Deck

- All sales are final. Before you click 'buy' make sure you've thoroughly investigated the sample deck plus any of the thousands of free Anki cards I've got on the site in other topics.

-  This is an Honor System - The deck you purchase is for your personal use only. Please don't share the file with other people. I can't stop anyone from sharing this deck. There is no DRM. I would just ask that you consider that I've put a ton of time into making this deck. If the deck helps you, pass on this site to your friends so that they too can enjoy the power of Anki :)

- Nothing is perfect. There may be a few errors. With nearly 6000 cards, there are bound to be some points of contention or error. I do not hide this. Every medical textbook on the market has errata, even the perennial favorite First Aid. I've had nearly a dozen volunteer editors review the new Pathology deck, but even still, some things may have slipped through the cracks. For this reason, I've set up a DrWillBe Forum (Google Group) where users can report errata, as well as discuss study tips and the like.

- I'd love your feedback. I use this blog as a way to share things I've learned about medicine, but also as a way to learn new things and expose myself to different perspectives. That's the fun of having a blog. So please, share your experiences with the DrWillBe Pathology Deck. You can share your feedback through the "Contact" page.

DrWillBe Forum - Google Group

Buy DrWillBe Anki Pathology Deck 1.0

Add to Cart View Cart

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What resources did you use to make your Pathology deck?
A: My deck is based on the learning I did over 2+ years from the following resources:
  • Pathoma
  • Rapid Review Pathology (Goljan)
  • First Aid for USMLE Step 1
  • USMLE World Step 1 Qbank
  • USMLERx Step 1 Qbank
  • Robbin's Pathological Basis of Disease
  • Miscellaneous sources (Wikipedia, eMedicine, UpToDate)
Q: My Step 1 test date is in X weeks. How should I use your deck?

A: Anki is best for long term learning. The more time you give yourself, the more effective Anki will be for you. But what if you don't have a lot of time? Will Anki still help you? The answer is yes. It can definitely help, since no matter the time frame, Anki exploits the testing effect.

Here is a general principle for using my Pathology deck: The shorter the time frame you have to study, the more selective you must be about putting cards into the review queue.

If you have 6 weeks to study for Step 1, you most definitely should not put all 6000 path cards into a review schedule. You'll get slammed with 1000 reviews every day. Rather, you should pass over the cards that contain information you know well (i.e., you get it right easily on the first exposure), and bank only those cards which you're likely to forget. The closer you are to your test date, the more judicious you must be.

Alternatively, if you don't want to use the scheduled reviews of Anki, you can just 'cram' cards based on system-tags. You won't review cards with Anki's spacing algorithm, but you can still get the benefit of actively answering questions.

Q: Can I add stuff to your deck?

A: Of course! My Pathology deck is quite comprehensive. Used "as-is" it should get you very far in your studies. But everyone's needs are different. Perhaps your professors want you to know random stuff from Robbins or factoids from lecture slides. You can use the Pathology deck as a base onto which you can add your own cards. This is one of the benefits of Anki - the flexibility to customize it for your needs. You can also add some notes or comments to my cards. I recommend not cluttering the cards too much. Remember, less is more. But you may find that you want to add more explanations to the cards than there is now. Go for it.

Q: How do I do "X" in Anki?

A: While Anki is fairly user friendly, its quirks can sometimes confuse people. Even I get confused sometimes. And I know I don't use the full power of Anki, with all the add-ons and such.

The best places to get help with Anki are:

Anki User Manual

Anki User Forum  Lots of good advice here. You can ask your question and usually get a good answer. Very useful.

Anki for Medical Students Guide


  1. Dr. Willbe,

    I purchased your new pathology deck, but my computer said no new cards were imported since I had your older deck. Does this sound right?



  2. Hi Kent,

    Thanks for your purchase. Well, that sounds right for the cards that are the same, but not for the ~200 new cards. I think the problem is that Anki doesn't do updates well. You can import new cards, but it won't go and change old cards that have been modified.

    So unfortunately, you're going to have to open the new deck you just purchased as its own separate deck. You won't keep the scheduling from the old deck. I wish there were a better way.

  3. Dr. Willbe,

    Thanks for your quick response. I don't mind working with a separate deck, but for some reason the new deck never showed up as a separate deck after I clicked the purchase link to download and since the link is a one-time only, I don't have the new deck to reflect my purchase.


  4. Kent,
    Let's talk offline. Can you send me an email at drwillbe@gmail.com?

    Your link should have downloaded a file. That should be on your computer now. You can name it something different (ex. new_path_deck.apkg) and then go to Anki file > import. Or you can just click on the Anki file from your desktop and that should open it.

  5. DrWillbe,

    I am learning veterinary medicine, I suppose pathology should be fairly the same. I would like to be more sure about that. Can You provide me some (10-20) sample cards? That way I could even see how fast I could learn from your deck if I would buy it.

    Thanks, Peter

  6. Hi Peter,

    See above in this page. I give away 400+ cards from the cardiac section of my deck. But truth be told, I don't know that there is enough overlap between veterinary pathology and human pathology. Maybe in the general section but not systems pathology - human diseases are specific to humans.

    So I don't think it's worth it.

  7. Hi,

    Do you have any advice how to study for your deck while studying for system?

    Thank you

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. i bought the decs but i can't run them on my mac device

  10. Could you just list all of the decs you have and the price of each?
    ie. Pathology (from Robbins or "X") $#.##
    FIrst aid deck $#.##
    X Y Z Deck $##.##

    And hyperlink each one so I can just pay for the ones I want without reading the massive "trying to convince you" articles on this blog?

  11. Hi

    I just bought your pathology deck and I see that it is text only and it seems like pictures are not included in flashcards. Is this true for all flashcards, or do some of them have pictures of pathologies that will be seen on Step1? I was hoping it would come with pictures rather than text only... overall it seems fine.