May 15, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
As a medical student if you do not use efficient study techniques you can find yourself quickly falling behind in your studies and struggling to cope when exam time comes around. To avoid this frustrating scenario, here are a few tips that can help you stay on top of your coursework.
The trick to finding the time to fit in your studies as well as your extracurricular activities is to use any time you get available wisely. Don’t wait till you have large chunks of time to sit and complete your project. With a packed schedule you may find that large chunks of time during the day are a luxury. Instead, using the time that you have between classes, during breaks or after school to make a few quick notes or read up on your notes for the day or to do a quick revision of what was covered in class that day. Just by using small slots of time available during your school day, you will be able to keep up with the latest information.
Everybody has a different study schedule that works for them. Identify your best study times and the times when you find it particularly difficult to stay focused and plan your study schedule accordingly. This will help you be more productive and you will find that you cover a lot more in less time. Use your ‘distracted’ time to catch up with friends or to exercise or just chill – anything other than studying. Make it a rule however to keep aside a certain time every day, preferably during the same time of the day, for in depth studying.
Finding a quiet, comfortable place to study is crucial. This could be at home, in the library or even your backyard. If you find it too noisy to study at home, consider staying back in the library in the evenings to study. At home, create a conducive, distraction-free environment for studying. It’s impossible to focus or retain any information in a noisy, chaotic environment.
It may seem like an insurmountable task but the fact is daily revision is the key to better understanding and more efficient retention of information. It also helps you have a better grasp of whatever is being discussed in the classroom.
Studying or revising does not mean simply reading your textbooks or passive study. With passive studying, you are likely to get bored faster and will find it more difficult to retain the information. Active studying involves questioning everything that you read as you go along. Think about how the information relates to something you may have learned earlier in the programme. Try and determine where it fits in the big picture.
Identify cues that will make it easier for you to memorise the information. Use highlighters, mnemonics and mind maps to create little memory blocks for quick revision around exam time. Answering past test papers regularly is a very useful form of active revision. It allows you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and will also help you get familiar with answering the paper come exam time.