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Study Techniques for Medical Students

March 27, 2023
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Are you preparing for exams at medical school and looking for useful study techniques? Explore these tips from former medical students and medical school counselors.

Best Study Practices for Med Students

Use these helpful study techniques and tips to help you accomplish your goals through every step of the medical school journey.

1. Make a Daily Study Schedule

As a med student, you have a lot of information to take in. The best way to learn everything and keep up with continual education in your field includes studying on a daily basis. Medical students need to develop their study habits and make those habits a part of everyday life.

2. Memorize With Mnemonics

You might remember using mnemonics in grade school for the planetary system or the rainbow. You can use this learning technique for medical school as well. This memorization device can help you recall specific physical and neurological information in a systematic manner.

3. Use Visual Aids

Some learners benefit from using visual methods and aids to help solidify concepts. As a med student, you can use visual diagrams or sketches to improve your grasp on your studies. Try recreating the diagrams and notations that you need to focus on to improve your understanding.

4. Listen to Audio Lectures

While studying in medical school, you can take advantage of the numerous lectures in person or search for audio recordings of lectures. Some individuals show improvements in retaining information from audio assets over other forms of learning. Some students like to listen to recordings of lectures while tending to other activities in everyday life, like working out or sitting in traffic on errands. This approach to studying can help you save a bit of time, depending on your lifestyle and preferred learning methods.

5. Write Out Your Notes

While studying medicine, many students benefit from writing out detailed notes or even writing out exact passages from the text. Rather than simply reading the text, you can improve your retention by actively engaging yourself through the act of writing the information out. You can also use written notes to create flashcards for specific terms and definitions or other critical knowledge for your exams.

6. Take Practice Tests

While you work on discovering your ideal learning techniques, you can test how effectively you retain information by using practice tests. Consider creating question banks to simulate the testing method for “the boards.” In addition to taking practice tests to gauge your knowledge, you can review incorrect answers and work on retaining the correct information for each question or area of study. You might even take it a step further and review each question and appropriate answer before moving to the next one on your list.

7. Identify Your Ideal Learning Environment

Every student has different preferences for the ideal space that helps them learn more effectively. Work toward identifying the environment that works best with your learning style and minimizes the things that distract you.

8. Schedule Self-Care

While the field of medicine largely focuses on helping those around you, you can’t forget to take care of yourself. While building your daily schedule, remember to set aside time for self-care. Give yourself time to take a walk, go for a swim, or do anything that lets you take a short break to recharge for the rest of your duties. Another part of self-care can include rewards when you complete certain goals that will help you maintain your motivation. Speaking of motivation, another suggestion you can make use of involves creating a vision board to help you stay on task to reach the goals you set for yourself.

9. Collaborate With a Study Group

Consider collaborating with students on a similar career path so you can study together. Let’s look at a few guidelines that will help you form the most effective group possible, including:
    • Selecting students outside of your social group (social chats can distract from the study topic)
    • Limiting groups to four or fewer students
    • Studying with those that have similar goals
    • Splitting study tasks evenly among the group
In some programs, you might find that these study groups and supports are built into the program for you because collaborative study can benefit many students.

10. Seek Counsel From School Staff

Medical school is an intensive program, and the staff around you knows this from experience. Don’t hesitate to ask school staff, like counselors and instructors, or even your classmates, for assistance or guidance to help you overcome any obstacles you might find. It can be easy to fall behind with the immense amount of information in medical school, so be proactive at the first sign of falling behind.
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