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- July 30th, 2011, 10:47 PM #1
Great Advice for New Medical Students!
So it's been a good day or two since I put something helpful up! So unlike me so anyways, these are some great study tips I found that'll make you the real-deal in medical school.
Tip #1: Always remember THE BIG PICTURE. This is the single MOST important piece of advice that I can give. This is definitely easier said than done, but I can’t express how important this is. Honestly, I can’t memorize worth crap. I absolutely refuse to memorize useless information. The only way I can remember anything is by fitting the information into the big picture. If you are trying to memorize some piece of minutia, simply ask yourself what it has to do with everything. It sort of relates to understanding the clinical context. Instead of memorizing a long list of symptoms, ask yourself how a patient who walks in will likely present. It’s also important to understand how the body works together. Most med school curriculums compartmentalize information based on subject, but you should always try to synthesize the information from all subjects into a complete, big picture of how the body functions. I think this is most difficult in the beginning, but probably gets easier as you learn more about each subject.
Tip #2: Don’t memorize lists!! This is similar to getting the big picture. For example, instead of memorizing a long list of tissues that are derived from neural crest cells, ask yourself what the pattern is. For example, you can remember that for the most part, the peripheral nervous system and all of its components are derived from neural crest cells. And then you can just easily remember the exceptions. This is certainly easier than memorizing a huge list. I promise you that it will make your life easier. Understand connections and patterns, and you will never have to remember a huge list of information.
Tip #3: Make up your own mnemonics. Everyone is always after the mnemonics that other people use to remember information. While this is definitely a handy thing to do (I am so glad someone told me about point and shoot), it’s equally important to make up your OWN mnemonics. I can tell you that I remember the mnemonics that I make up for myself way BETTER than ones other people make up. I could provide you with a list of all the ones I’ve created (and I thought about doing this), but would they make sense to YOU? Maybe not! Also, it’s not all about mnemonics as they are actually defined, but it’s about using word associations. For example, I remember that if you lesion your subthalamus, you get hemiballismus, by envisioning a ballistic submarine. This isn’t really a mnemonic, and it might not work for you, but it certainly works for me! Don’t overwork your brain if you don’t have to! Make up easy word associations to help you remember information. It’s a technique that any psychologist will tell you will save you TONS of mental investment!
Tip #4: Remember that you’re in med school, not a PhD program. Okay, some of you might be in an MD/PhD program, but that’s not my point! I think many students feel like they must know EVERY single detail, and must understand every single little minute point about everything they learn. Well you don’t! You certainly don’t need to know everything for your exams or boards, and I can promise that you won’t need to know every single enzyme in every biochemical pathway as a practicing physician! Know the IMPORTANT details! For example, in biochemistry, know the enzymes that are rate limiting, and are important for regulation and pharmacology. You are not trying to obtain a PhD in biochemistry! Don’t kill yourself over the details! It comes back to getting THE BIG PICTURE! (Of course, there are certain details that are very important. I’m just pointing out that there are tons of unimportant details that you shouldn’t force yourself to memorize.)
Tip #5: Study lecture material the same day it’s covered in class. I didn’t realize how important this was at first, and my grades suffered. I’m now in the habit of reviewing a lecture as soon as it’s over, or the same day at the latest. If you wait until days or weeks after the lecture, I can guarantee you that your notes won’t mean the same thing to you as they would if you had reviewed it right away. This actually brings me to my next tip.
Tip #6: Pay attention in class!! By paying attention, I don’t mean that you have to write down every word the professor says. Actually, I can tell you from experience that this will probably not help you. Instead of writing down their every word, pay ATTENTION to what they emphasize! Many fellow students have told me that when it comes to studying, they have no idea what is important as far as the exam. HELLO ! Were you not in lecture?! The professor TOLD you! Okay, this isn’t the case with all professors. But if you really pay attention not only to WHAT they are saying, but to HOW they are saying it, I promise you that you will not find it difficult to figure out what is important to study. I would say that with 90% of my professors, I can predict with incredible accuracy what is going to be on the exam. Which is related to my next tip!
Tip #7: Put yourself in your professors’ shoes. Obviously this is important for your exams, but it also can apply to the writers of the boards. At my school, all of our exams are multiple choice, and each professor usually puts 1-4 questions from each lecture on the exam. Go through the material and try to make up 1-4 multiple choice questions! Remember, they aren’t going to ask you about some stupid little detail; they are going to try and test you on the important stuff! Try to think like a professor! I guarantee that if you sit down and try and write 1-4 good questions from the lecture material, you are bound to come up with something similar to what they ask on the exam.
Tip #8: REPETITION is your friend!! Use your psych 101 knowledge here! Your brain tends to remember information that has been presented multiple times. Use this to your advantage! For example, here is my usual study plan: I review every lecture the day that I watch it. On Saturday, I review every lecture that I watched that week. Before the exam, I review every lecture one more time. So, when it comes to exam time, I have reviewed every lecture a minimum of 3 times. I can’t say that I remember everything the third time around, but I sure do remember a good portion of it.
Tip #9: Get a study buddy or group. Find a person or few people who you can meet with weekly to review material. An important point is that they need not be your friend! This may seem strange, but it’s true. Get together to study, not socialize. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t socialize! I’m just saying that don’t schedule your time every week to chit chat with your friends. Use the group to learn! Ask each other questions. Try to quiz each other on the material. Talk about what you don’t understand! I’ve found that I actually learn best by teaching. By explaining the material to other people, I end up understanding it much more than just studying it myself.
Study Tip #10: Make a schedule. Okay, let me be upfront by telling you that I am a bit of a schedule maniac (in case you hadn’t already gotten that). Actually, I also like to say that I am, “Prone to non-random bouts of calculated spontaneity,” so don’t worry, I can have fun too! But when it comes to school and studying, I don’t mess around. Since day one of med school, I’ve been working on perfecting my schedule. I’ve tried getting up anywhere from 6:00 in the morning to noon. Finally, I’ve found a schedule that works well for me. This is where you come in. I don’t know if you are a morning person, or night person, or lecture person, or a Dungeons and Dragons person (okay, they are a little scary). But you need to figure out what type of person you are and come up with a schedule that works for you. You should PLAN your days. Now, you don’t have to be as insanely anal about it as I am, but you should really work out (on paper or electronically) how you spend your day. I posted my schedule here, since I am a dork. Don’t forget that it is perfectly okay to change your schedule around, and not stick to it exactly, but I promise that if you approach med school and studying in an organized manner, you will find that you also start thinking in an organized manner. Also, you will never end up the night before an exam having only studied half the material. Manage your time! When it comes down to the weekend before the exam, I actually plan my day hour by hour. Maybe you don’t need to go this far, but hey, it couldn’t hurt! For example, I might plan to study lectures 1-6 in biochem from 8:00 – 10:00, then lectures 1-6 in anatomy from 10:00 – 12:00, etc. Plan in advance how much time you can allot to each class/lecture, and you will find that you will never be dreadfully behind the night before an exam.
Here are some tips that are more tailored to Ross University students (but really, for other students, too):
Tip #11: Mediasite is your friend. Okay, for all you non-Ross students, Ross University records every lecture that is given here and posts it online to something called Mediasite. I’m in the Scholars/Pace program (more on that later), which means that technically I’m not supposed to attend class. At first, this was scary for me. In undergrad, I was one of those annoying students who attended every lecture, so the idea of not attending lectures was very frightening. Well, it turns out that I was born to Mediasite. Here are just a few of the benefits of using Mediasite:
A. You can watch lectures whenever you want. This is great if you are a schedule oriented person, but can be a hell trap if you’re not, because you might procrastinate and never watch the lecture. This is one of the reasons that I absolutely DO NOT recommend this for everyone.
B. You can pause and rewind. Again, this can be your best friend or your worst enemy. For example, I used to pause every few seconds, and it ended up taking me forever to finish a lecture, but I now know that it’s best to use the pause button sparingly. But if you happen to miss an important point, you can easily go back and listen to it again. Also, if you find yourself drifting off, you can simply rewind. You don’t have these luxuries in real time.
C. High-speed kicks ***! It turns out that most professors speak at a much slower rate than what you can potentially comprehend. It varies for different people and different professors, but I have found that I can watch most lectures at 2X speed. THIS HAS A VERY IMPORTANT BENEFIT! While most people spend 6 hours in lecture every day, I spend 3 hours watching lectures on Mediasite, then use that extra 3 hours to REVIEW! I am a serious Mediasite addict. But again, this will absolutely not work for everyone. Many people prefer the regiment of attending class, and being able to immediately ask questions. And in that case, I definitely think you should do what works best for you.
Tip #12: Do practice questions. For all students, I recommend using whatever question bank works for you. I’ve found BRS, First-Aid, and the online Exam Master to be pretty good, but there are obviously TONS of options. Find out what is available to you and take advantage of it. There is really nothing like applying your knowledge by doing practice questions. And what works best for people seems to be based on their learning style and university. For Ross students, I highly recommend using the old minis. If you don’t have copies, simply ask any one of the upperclassmen, and they’ll be happy to give them to you. There are copies of 2000-2002 minis floating around, and they will absolutely help you practice for the exam. Obviously for the shelves and boards, you should use sources like BRS, First-Aid, online testbanks, etc. But practice questions are your FRIEND! And don’t just do the questions. Use them as an opportunity to learn what you don’t know. If you get a question wrong, go back and figure out what the correct answer was and WHY!
Tip #13: Don’t give up! This really applies to all med students, but particularly to Ross students that I’ve spoken with. Just because you bomb an exam, or a particular subject, don’t let it get you down! Honestly, I did the worst on my first exam in med school. I think it really was because I had been out of school for so long, and also I had no idea how to study for med school. But I kept going anyway. And it really did pay off. Maybe you won’t get straight A’s on all your exams, and maybe you won’t even pass, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from giving it everything you’ve got. If you’re like most students, it’s been a helluva long road to even get to this point in med school. Don’t let a low score keep you from pursuing your dreams. And in the event that you end up not making it, don’t chalk it up to being stupid. There are a million reasons why certain people don’t succeed in med school, but it’s usually not because of a lack of intelligence. Just do the very best that you can, and no matter what, you will always know that you gave it everything you had.
Tip #14: Get a Life! I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a life outside of studying. The worst thing you can do is study all day long without breaks and without taking time to have fun. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and relax! If you don’t take breaks and don’t have fun sometimes, your mental health will decline. In addition, if you don’t get some daily exercise, your mental and physical health will decline. It’s amazing how many people enter med school, and then forget everything they learned in third grade health class!! EAT WELL, SLEEP WELL, and TAKE SOME TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES! When I find myself becoming overwhelmed with studying, I take a short trip to the beach. I come back an entirely new person. Even if you don’t have a beach, find somewhere other than your study space to relax and forget about med school for a while. I promise that you will find studying a million times better and easier when you return.July 30th, 2011, 11:54 PM #2July 31st, 2011, 04:30 AM #3
Yes, thanks! And the most important for us Pakistani Medical Student's, I believe, is Tip #13 and least is #14 (you can't have a life in Pakistani Medical Schools for 90% of the time) haha jk, but yeah it's important to just stay set on your goals without any distractions.
Hope everyone finds it helpful! Enjoy, I will come with more helpful advice again soon, so heads-up for more of me
#nerdJuly 31st, 2011, 09:20 AM #4
One of the greatest threads of this community!!
Thank You very much Talib!!"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucius
Frontier Medical And Dental College
Class 2015July 31st, 2011, 08:05 PM #5August 1st, 2011, 09:36 AM #6
- Member Since
- Jan 2010
- New York/Pakistan
- 38 times
thanks great post bro
recording lecturs and writing notes helps as well
Last edited by hammad khan; August 1st, 2011 at 09:37 AM.October 3rd, 2012, 07:31 AM #7
bing!"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucius
Frontier Medical And Dental College
Class 2015October 3rd, 2012, 12:45 PM #8
- Member Since
- Aug 2012
- 601 times
Truely, an excellent thread and great timing. I can't thank you enough brother Talib.October 3rd, 2012, 06:27 PM #9
i strongly believe this material will keep me on track in medical school
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