How To Study In Med School

In the demanding landscape of medical school, the sheer volume of information dwarfs what you encountered in high school. A structured study system can be your guiding light, making the process of learning and absorbing this vast knowledge more manageable.

Let’s not forget that you didn’t land a spot in med school by chance. It’s a testament to your unwavering dedication and hard work over the years. While you might already have a study technique that serves you well, it’s crucial to understand that medical school is a league apart from high school. Therefore, it’s worth considering some tips and ideas that could enhance your approach.

Admittedly, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for effective study techniques. What resonates with one person may not with another. Instead of offering a universal method, I’d like to share what has proven successful for me and suggest additional strategies to fine-tune your existing approach or embrace a new one that aligns with your preferences.

Planning

A meticulously organized plan is my compass. It not only allows me to gauge my progress but also empowers me to efficiently manage my time, alleviating anxiety. As soon as the final exam and colloquium dates are disclosed, I dedicate time to charting everything in my planner.

I estimate the time required for each subject and determine daily study hours. Typically, I initiate an intense study regimen (averaging 4+ hours daily) around 5-2 weeks before the examination, fine-tuning this timeline based on the subject’s intricacies and knowledge prerequisites.

I also strategize the sequence in which I’ll delve into topics, aiming to adhere to this plan as closely as possible, though maintaining flexibility for those instances when a concept demands more or less time.

Study Techniques

While my study techniques evolve with the subject, a consistent framework underpins my approach. I commence by reviewing materials disseminated by professors, and cross-referencing them with my own lecture notes.

This step guarantees a comprehensive grasp of each topic. Subsequently, I engage with the content through thorough reading, while making handwritten notes of the key concepts and summarizing some topics, which later on helps me while I revise for exams. However, making extensive handwritten notes of everything is more time-consuming than it is effective. When encountering an elusive concept, I turn to textbooks, academic articles, or educational videos on platforms like YouTube to delve deeper.

I’ve also explored online study aids like Osmosis and Anki, and I’ve found them very helpful. But while I’m interested by what Amboss has to offer, the price is a bit of a barrier, particularly for a student like me.

Given my proclivity as a visual learner, my reliance on color-coding is extensive. Each topic is assigned a unique marker color, which significantly bolsters my memorization and retrieval capabilities.

It’s imperative that my notes are my own, meticulously structured and organized. Even in the rare event when I borrow notes from peers (due to my consistent lecture attendance), I feel compelled to retranscribe them in my own style. The act of writing not only facilitates retention but also facilitates visualization and recall.

Educational videos are invaluable tools in my learning arsenal. They are instrumental in demystifying complex topics and bolstering memory retention. When grappling with a particularly intricate concept, dedicating time to unearth a well-explained video might provide the missing link.

Revision Strategies

During revision, I embrace the role of an active teacher. Rather than regurgitating textbook sentences, I articulate the subject matter as if I were the instructor, gauging my comprehension.

I distil the key points into concise notes and then reiterate the topic in my own words. Regularly consulting these notes is pivotal to identifying any gaps in my understanding.

Should any doubts or uncertainties surface during revision, I document them. The act of writing these concerns reinforces long-term memory, resulting in a desk scattered with post-it notes.

Different Approaches to Consider

While my methods align with my learning style, there are alternative techniques worth exploring. They may resonate with some individuals but not all:

  1. Drawing Diagrams: For some, creating visual diagrams proves to be an effective memory aid. If you haven’t already, experimenting with this approach might reveal its suitability for your learning style.

  2. Reading Aloud: Though it doesn’t align with my approach, reading aloud can be a potent technique for auditory learners who absorb information through verbal repetition.

Conclusion

As future healthcare professionals, it’s imperative to exhibit self-awareness regarding your level of understanding and exercise self-critique. Maintaining motivation can be an uphill battle, but remember that this is the path you’ve chosen. 

Discipline is the key; resist distractions, and commit to the demanding work, even when faced with adversity. Complex concepts may take time to grasp fully, but your perseverance will be your steadfast ally in this rigorous journey.