Do you struggle with figuring out how to study in medical school? I know most medical students do and it is one of the most challenging parts of school. I started out struggling in school, but have figured out a system to bring my grades up but work less than before.
Keep in mind that this advice may not work for everyone, but I think any medical student can use at least one of the tips for more productive studying.
Here are my tips for studying:
1) Most of my professors will include learning objectives at the beginning of each lecture. Last year I completely ignored these, but this year I realized their value. Read through a lecture once or twice depending on it’s difficulty. You don’t need to get every single detail but you should have a decent understanding. Then go back to the learning objectives. For each one, think about the answer, look up the answer, and write it down or type it into a document. If there is any other information that the professor specifically said to know, include this as well.
2) If there are no learning objectives for some/all of your classes, first go through each lecture like before. Then think about what the lecture is about and write it down. Try to pick out what you think is important.
3) When I say think about what you are reading, I mean try to associate what you are learning with something you already know. The more you can do this, the easier it will be to recall the information later. We learned in neurology that it is easy to learn something, it is not easy to remember it! This will greatly expand your ability to remember the information. Check out the (free!) Holistic Learning e-book at this link for more information: Holistic Learning E-book
4) Now you have made yourself study guides so you don’t have to spend hours reading the same lecture notes over and over. You have begun to make connections from the new information to old information. Now to continue that a step further, use your learning objectives to quiz yourself instead of just reading the study guide. Read the first objective and try to completely answer the question, whether in your head or by writing it down. This makes learning active and makes it much less likely that you will forget the information. Here is a great link explaining the concept further: Single Most Important Study Strategy You Will Ever Hear
5) Repeat step 4 whenever you have the chance. You don’t have to be holed up in the library for 14 hours a day to get some studying done. If you print the study guides or save them to your smartphone you can study anytime you have a short break. For more information on this, check out: The Art of Stealth Studying
6) Do a little bit of every subject every day. It is really easy to get in the habit of cramming for the next test while ignoring everything else. This is the fastest way to get burned out! So break that bad habit and begin to work on every class daily. It doesn’t have to be for very long, and it doesn’t have to be a ton of information but that time will add up. Plus I find that I can study longer when I switch subjects. Despite what med students think, the human brain is not designed to study one thing for 14 hours straight! I originally got this idea from an article on having multiple projects. The author recommended taking a small step on each project daily, and I translated that into class instead of project. Here is the original article: Thoughts on a Daily Action Pack
7) Don’t push yourself unnecessarily. If you have already taken a few tests that week and are exhausted, give yourself a break. If you feel like a nap or some downtime is what you need, listen to your body! You will become much more productive. And productivity is much more important than the number of hours you put in.
I hope these tips have helped you learn how to study! Know that figuring this out is one of the hardest parts of school, and it will be much better once you do. Also, this exact system may not work for everyone, but hopefully at least one of these tips will be applicable. Keep reading for more tips, as I hope to update this blog with new resources often! For even more detailed information about how to Learn More and Study Less, check out this e-book: Learn More and Study Less