April 24, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The curriculum in medical school can be very demanding and regular revision is the best way to stay on top of it all. Keeping all your revision until the last moment just before the exams can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. These few revision tips can help you get off to a flying start.
Drawing up a study timetable helps you keep things in perspective. You know the work that you need to cover so you can allocate your time accordingly. Be realistic when creating your timetable. If you know that you get distracted easily, keep a little extra time so you do not feel disheartened if you do not achieve your goals.
Studies show that studying in shorter spells of 20 to 30 minutes each with a short break in between works better than studying for 2 to 3 hours at a stretch. That is because your concentration levels are highest for up to 30 minutes and start flagging off after that. Taking short, frequent breaks of just a couple of minutes will help your brain stay alert and increase your productivity. Don’t overdo it though- you do not want to end up having more break time than actual study time.
The human brain is most alert in the morning so this is the best time to tackle those tough topics and get them off your to-do list. Also, this is the quietest time of the day when distractions are at a minimum. You will find it much more difficult to get a handle on a complicated subject later in the day when distractions are plentiful and your brain is already overloaded with everything else you’ve had to take in for the day.
Making notes and creating mind maps is the best way to memorise the vast amount of information that you are expected to remember in medical school. Use colours. Create colourful mind maps and use coloured markers to highlight chunks of text. Studies show that colourful notes are easier to memorise than plain black and white ones. Give it a go!
Answering past papers allows you to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie so you know what topics you need to spend some more time on. It is also a good way to get familiar with exam technique so you won’t be stressed when you are answering your board exams. Past papers are easy to obtain either from your teacher or from the internet.
Do not leave your coursework or projects until the last minute. Start on assignments as soon as they are given. If you have multiple projects to work on, prioritise them by how extensive the coursework is and how far away the deadlines are. Be realistic about how long it will take and allot sufficient time. Projects and coursework carry a lot of marks and are worth spending time on.
Pulling regular all-nighters may give you those few additional study hours but in the long run they can be counter-productive. You need to be rested and recharged for the next day. If you need extra hours to study, cut back on your socialising or your TV time but not your sleep. Making time to sleep is as important as making time to revise.