As an aspiring doctor, you have a lot on your plate. Upgrading your study skills now can help you learn to be more efficient about how you study, save you time, help you improve your grades, and allow you to establish the skills that will see you through medical school. These strategies can make a major difference!
Have you tried…
1. Identifying your learning style?
Most people are auditory, kinesthetic or visual learners. There are hundreds of free tests available online to help you identify your primary learning style(s). Knowing how you learn best can help you save a lot of time—especially as you refine your approach. As a visual learner, I know re-copying my notes, using different colors for different topics, and re-organizing material into flashcards, concept maps, or other visual formats will help me learn the information more quickly. Different subjects will require flexibility in adapting your strategy.
2. Reviewing notes as soon as you can?
To save yourself the time and effort required to “relearn” material, review notes from lecture as soon as you can—ideally within hours after class. The sooner you review them, the more you will remember and the less time that you will have to spend later relearning information that you could simply be reinforcing.
3. Attending all office hours?
Some of the most effective study approaches that students have told me about were suggested to them by professors and TA’s. Going to office hours can give you the chance to ask your instructors about the best way to study their subject material. Since they are the experts in their subject, they would know! Also, you can use this time to cover the material that you have questions about or that you have difficulty understanding. If you feel like you already have it all covered, that means you’re not studying enough or familiar enough with the material to accurately “self-evaluate” your knowledge of it. Back to the books! Preparing these questions for your instructors on a weekly basis will help you better prepare for the exams.
4. Creating practice tests to identify gaps in your knowledge?
Current research in educational psychology suggests that the best way to prepare for exams is by using practice tests. This allows you to simulate the method of evaluation being used to test your knowledge. Also, creating practice exams with and for friends, forces you to think like the professor. In examining the class material from this perspective, it may become easier for you to predict how and what you will be tested on. Most importantly, you will be able to identify what you do and don’t know. Focus your time and energy on learning the material that you don’t know. It’s too easy and comfortable to focus on that which we do.
Hopefully, you’ve learned some new ways to approach studying. Since we are all such unique learners, one method or approach will not work for everyone. It’s important to test as many approaches as possible to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The more time that you spend refining your study strategies can actually decrease the amount of time you actually spend studying. Who doesn’t want more free time?
Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!