The Osmosis app prevents cramming and promotes learning

Purpose of App Review

  • How well does this app help students learn medical information?


The Osmosis app is a medical app geared towards helping medical students learn information through repetition in order to retain knowledge as opposed to using the cram-and-forget method that is so common.

The Osmosis app was created by medical students to help their peers by intertwining gamification with the portability of mobile devices to enhance the overall learning experience.

User Interface

The Osmosis app has a tutorial that pops up the first time the app is started that guides the new user through the various features of the app. The main screen of the app includes a list of topics that this app covers including: anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, etc. The user can select which topics from that list they want to get quizzed on and create a new quiz.

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Once the topics are selected, a quiz is created. Each quiz includes various USMLE style vignettes as well as a mix of simple fact-based questions. These questions seem to be good for board style studying. According to the Osmosis website, the questions are reviewed by professors at several top medical institutions including Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Yale. The questions also come from their partners which include the American College of Physicians.

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For each question, once the user selects an answer, they have the opportunity to select how confident they are with their answer selection. This allows the app to categorize which questions the user actually knew and which they may have gotten right due to lucky guesses.

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The app also includes in depth explanations for each of the questions. Some explanations also include multimedia such as images and links to Youtube videos that give additional explanations. There are also questions that include citations for the explanations provided.

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The Osmosis Scoreboard is a screen that displays the users performance on the questions they have completed. The scoreboard stratifies the questions the user answered correctly and incorrectly by their confidence. This allows the user to select and create quizzes including questions only from a category such as questions answered “Correct with low confidence,” which can help the student focus on their weaknesses.

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Another great feature of this app is that it has the option to allow push notifications to your phone. This enables the app to send daily questions to the user’s phone so that they can constantly keep up with answering questions and retaining information through repetition.

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  • Free


  • Great set of questions that include both USMLE vignette and fact recall styles
  • Ability to stratify answers according to confidence
  • Ability to send daily notifications to a user’s phone


  • Although the questions seem very good, there seem to only be about 10 questions per topic. It would be great if more questions could be added.
  • Answers include Youtube videos which require an internet connection. It would be useful if the videos were within the app so that users could answer questions on the go.

Healthcare workers that would benefit from the app

  • Any medical student who is studying for classes as well as board exams.


  • Retaining the vast amount of knowledge acquired in medical school is a difficult task to master. However, the Osmosis app makes it much easier. This app allows students to identify their weaknesses and learn through repetition.

Android version of this application

  • Not available at the time of this review

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

iTunes Link

Type of Device used to review app–iPad 2
Version of App–1.0

Rating: (1 to 5 stars): 4.6/5

  1. User Interface: 4/5 – There is a tutorial that explains how to use the app the first time the app is started which is useful, but the app can be a little confusing to use. It would be useful if the app had a bar at the bottom to access various screens rather than having the user swipe in various directions to move to different screens.
  2. Multimedia usage: 4.5/5 – App includes many images and links to videos that can be helpful for students. However, if the videos did not link to Youtube but instead opened within the app, the feature could be more useful on the go.
  3. Price: 5/5 – Free
  4. Real world applicability: 5/5 -This app can be used daily by medical students across the world. The information in the app is very useful. The only thing that could make this app better is more questions for each topic.

This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.




Jay Agarwal MD

Jay is a resident physician at Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary for Otolaryngology. He is interested in exploring the bridge between mobile technologies and how they can be used to help doctors in training and improve patient education and compliance.

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4 Responses to The Osmosis app prevents cramming and promotes learning

  1. Natalie Clairoux September 6, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Before I recommend this app to students in my library guide, I would like to know if the content is valid. Are all questions derived from the USMLE? Otherwise, are there references mentioned?

    • Shiv Gaglani September 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      Thank you for your interest, Natalie. Our questions have been reviewed mostly by professors at Johns Hopkins, where we were when we began working on Osmosis. We also rely on UpToDate, PubMed, and USMLE Prep material, in addition to partnering with organizations like the American College of Physicians to include their content. We take quality very seriously, which is the reason we incorporated the rating feature so we can wean out poorly rated questions. Our web platform also has a commenting feature that allows us to fix any issues that come up with a very short turnaround time.

      Please feel free to e-mail me at hi [at] osmosis [dot] org to discuss further. Thank you!

      Shiv, on behalf of the Osmosis Team

  2. Sunil September 6, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    I like the idea behind the app, so tried it for few days. I find the app buggy in my iphone 5. The app is poorly build, and not user friendly. The app is not smooth, it feels choppy, it doesn’t feel like i am using iphone. The app developer need to improving the app on iphone 5. The content is good though, i like the use of video, to explain difficult concepts.

    • Shiv Gaglani September 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Hi Sunil, have you upgraded your iOS? The Osmosis app has been optimized for the iPhone 5 and we haven’t received any feedback like yours regarding the buggy-ness. We have a unique user interface that may be revised for the next version, but this demo video should help:

      Thank you for using Osmosis and please feel free to e-mail us at if you have any other comments or questions.

      Shiv, on behalf of the Osmosis Team

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