A53

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Hey folks,

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death, but I'm interested to hear some fresh opinions as I'm about to start M1 next week and trying to get an accurate gauge of how to plan my schedule. As of now, my plan is to study all week but take Friday night and all of Saturday off -- would this be feasible for the most part?

I just finished a long military service, so I'm no stranger to working long days and have no problem doing so if necessary. But, I do have a wife and daughter, and I'd like to allocate some time to them every week if I can. If anybody has any anecdotes or tips from their own experiences I would love to hear them.
 

mw18

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Hey folks,

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death, but I'm interested to hear some fresh opinions as I'm about to start M1 next week and trying to get an accurate gauge of how to plan my schedule. As of now, my plan is to study all week but take Friday night and all of Saturday off -- would this be feasible for the most part?

I just finished a long military service, so I'm no stranger to working long days and have no problem doing so if necessary. But, I do have a wife and daughter, and I'd like to allocate some time to them every week if I can. If anybody has any anecdotes or tips from their own experiences I would love to hear them.
In my experience, no. I would often take Friday nights off. But I worked on the weekends. I would sleep in, study until the night on the weekends and then relax. There will be weekends that are far removed from tests where you can do this, but in starting out I just don't know if it will be plausible. You feel a ton of pressure to be able to keep up, and you probably won't feel comfortable taking a full day off, let alone a day and a half in a row.
 

Entadus

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Initially it's tough to say; the first month of med school can be rocky for sure...

Worst case scenario you will need to at least work at least a little every day while you adjust, though your plan should become reasonable by later in 1st year, 2nd year certainly
 
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A53

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Initially it's tough to say; the first month of med school can be rocky for sure...

Worst case scenario you will need to at least work at least a little every day while you adjust, though your plan should become reasonable by later in 1st year, 2nd year certainly
Interesting, isn't 2nd year generally more time consuming?

I imagine this is because your studying methods become more efficient as time progresses?
 
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mw18

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Interesting, isn't 2nd year generally more time consuming?

I imagine this is because your studying methods become more efficient as time progresses?
Yeah, by the end of first year you find a rhythm. More than that, you've got a much better idea of the amount of work that it takes to get the type of grade you want. My school is P/F, so I know what it takes to pass. I know how much can happen in what amount of time. I've also felt woefully unprepared and I know how much work it takes to avoid that.
 
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Entadus

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Interesting, isn't 2nd year generally more time consuming?

I imagine this is because your studying methods become more efficient as time progresses?
Out of pure necessity, you adjust (in an unforeseeable way) ;)
 

mw18

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I'm going to go against the above and say if I didn't get my day off every week I would have quit by now. I'll work 100 hours a week if I have to, just give me 1 day to feel like a human being.
You took a day off each week in your first month? That's pretty impressive.
 

Azete

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You took a day off each week in your first month? That's pretty impressive.
I went into it thinking I would take off Friday night until Sunday night (like undergrad) -- that obviously didn't happen.

Admittedly I felt very uncomfortable/guilty at first, taking an entire day to do nothing medical related, but I really needed it and I stuck to it. Eventually I got over the guilt and it's now a regular part of my routine; whether it's exam week or not I always take at least one weekend day off. It helps that our school (by rule) does not have any Monday exams.
 
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piii

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Monday through Friday: attend/watch lectures. In the afternoon and evening, review lectures/outline notes/Anki for that day's lecture.

Saturday: review material from the week and do your Anki.

Sunday: relax.
 

LChristmas

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You need to give yourself some time to unplug from school. I like to take Friday off after class, and stop Saturday and Sunday before 4 (I start around 9) if there's no test on Monday. Sometimes I'll get a little crazy just take all of Sunday off...
 
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My school generally had tests every 3-4 weeks. I would kinda work a schedule where I had a whole weekend off, then worked 1 weekend day, then worked 1 full day and a half day, then both full days leading up to the test then off. It worked out well because the weekends that I was busy studying so was everyone else I hung out with so we didn't get the whole fear of missing out issue
 

Azete

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You need to give yourself some time to unplug from school. I like to take Friday off after class, and stop Saturday and Sunday before 4 (I start around 9) if there's no test on Monday. Sometimes I'll get a little crazy just take all of Sunday off...
I tried this, but I found working 1 full weekend day and taking one off to be much more effective (as far as helping my psyche). Just curious, what about doing two half days do you like better?

Side note: You know your life sucks when you consider working 9-4 a "half" day.
 

LChristmas

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I tried this, but I found working 1 full weekend day and taking one off to be much more effective (as far as helping my psyche). Just curious, what about doing two half days do you like better?

Side note: You know your life sucks when you consider working 9-4 a "half" day.
Yeah, ain't life grand??

So, 4 is my limit and I usually don't make it that long. I'd say 9 until lunch break then until 2-3 is more typical for me on a non-test weekend. We usually have a year every two weeks, and a test weekend will be until 6. I'm a morning person, so I just found that it works best for me.

I like to split it up into two days so I can be more fresh. I found that I'm more efficient by splitting it up, and it still allows me to do normal human things in the afternoon & evening.
 
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Taddy Mason

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It depends on your study habits and how you learn - everyone is different. I finally found my groove end of 1st year/beginning of 2nd year, and it was fairly similar to what OP described. Friday's I was done for the day once all of our mandatory stuff was over with (usually noon), the exception being the weeks approaching block exams. Saturdays I usually slept in and only put a few hours in during the late morning and afternoon (again I put more time in prior to block exams) and then took the rest of the day off. Sundays I occasionally slept in, but generally hit it pretty hard and usually called it quits when Anthony Bourdain was on.
 

HuskyBabe

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It's absolutely necessary to eventually work in days off, especially with a family. It's hard for anyone to tell you which days would be better to take off because it just varies so much based on the school and your own study habits. My school had huge block exams like every 2 months so we could afford to be more relaxed for the first month but we'd have to really buckle down 2-3 weeks out from an exam. So it all depends, but you will definitely find what works for you! As everyone knows, med school is very hard but don't ever let it consume you. When med school becomes your identity, you start to lose sight of everything that makes you human. I found a way to space things out and I had a good first year and was actually happy (except when we were 1 week from an exam, which was miserable). I also have several married classmates who have children already or became pregnant. It's amazing how they find a way to adjust. You'll be fine :)


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Azete

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It's absolutely necessary to eventually work in days off, especially with a family. It's hard for anyone to tell you which days would be better to take off because it just varies so much based on the school and your own study habits. My school had huge block exams like every 2 months so we could afford to be more relaxed for the first month but we'd have to really buckle down 2-3 weeks out from an exam. So it all depends, but you will definitely find what works for you! As everyone knows, med school is very hard but don't ever let it consume you. When med school becomes your identity, you start to lose sight of everything that makes you human. I found a way to space things out and I had a good first year and was actually happy (except when we were 1 week from an exam, which was miserable). I also have several married classmates who have children already or became pregnant. It's amazing how they find a way to adjust. You'll be fine :)


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We have exams (almost) every week at our school. However, they're not cumulative and generally only cover ~10 lectures each.

I find myself wishing we were more like your school, with bigger exams less frequently, so I could take an easy week or two every now and then. Given the choice, would you prefer something akin to mine or are you happy with your setup?
 

sloop

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Hey folks,

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death, but I'm interested to hear some fresh opinions as I'm about to start M1 next week and trying to get an accurate gauge of how to plan my schedule. As of now, my plan is to study all week but take Friday night and all of Saturday off -- would this be feasible for the most part?

I just finished a long military service, so I'm no stranger to working long days and have no problem doing so if necessary. But, I do have a wife and daughter, and I'd like to allocate some time to them every week if I can. If anybody has any anecdotes or tips from their own experiences I would love to hear them.
This is doable once you get the hang of things but you may have to do some work on Fridays and/or Saturdays in additional to Sunday until you get the hang of things and learn how to study medicine efficiently. This might take up to 6 months.

I certainly took off, with the exception of exam weeks, Friday and most/all of Saturday for the first two years and got excellent grades. However, some people seem to not be able to do this at all and need to study constantly just to stay afloat. Even if you can do this, I wouldn't count on being able to do it from day 1.
 

sloop

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Interesting, isn't 2nd year generally more time consuming?

I imagine this is because your studying methods become more efficient as time progresses?
More material and prepping for step 1 on top of it make second year unquestionably more work than first year but many find it more manageable because they have adjusted to the pace of medical school and learned how to study medicine efficiently. This is huge and you can't underestimate it.

Additionally, many (myself included) find the material more interesting and a little less painful to study in second year.
 

HuskyBabe

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We have exams (almost) every week at our school. However, they're not cumulative and generally only cover ~10 lectures each.

I find myself wishing we were more like your school, with bigger exams less frequently, so I could take an easy week or two every now and then. Given the choice, would you prefer something akin to mine or are you happy with your setup?

Interesting that you ask because one of my close friends goes to a medical school similar to yours and we always talk about the pros and cons. Generally, I like the way my school does big block exams because it does give you a lot more freedom to take time off and have a more normal life. The problem is that each exam covers a crazy amount of material and they're what the faculty love to call "high stakes exams," which means if you don't pass you have to remediate that entire section in the summer. Whereas smaller exams every week probably allow you to make some mistakes and you have wiggle room without having to throw away your summer. So overall I think there are perks and drawbacks to both. I find that as long as I stayed on top of the material and sacrificed 2 weeks out from an exam, me and most of my classmates did just fine. When it comes down to it, my friend and I are both envious of each other's schedule at one point or another, guess the grass is always greener :)


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eefen

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For the first few months, all bets are off. The weekend before a test? All bets are off.

Short of that...I took most weekends mostly off (~1 hr for Anki review each day) and was done studying by 6 pm most days. Once you find what works for you, the first two years basically becomes a normal job. It was pretty beautiful. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't gone to class during first year (didn't catch on to that bit of glory until second year).
 

xffan624

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For the first few months, all bets are off. The weekend before a test? All bets are off.

Short of that...I took most weekends mostly off (~1 hr for Anki review each day) and was done studying by 6 pm most days. Once you find what works for you, the first two years basically becomes a normal job. It was pretty beautiful. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't gone to class during first year (didn't catch on to that bit of glory until second year).
Enjoy that bit of time when one can be master of your time from the comfort of your home. It's pretty much nonexistent during 3rd year. You will see a bit more of it during 4th year and with less to do during the breaks. (Just spent one 4 week period studying for and taking step 2cs, taking a family vacation, and getting reacquainted with my Xbox one).
 
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sloop

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Enjoy that bit of time when one can be master of your time from the comfort of your home. It's pretty much nonexistent during 3rd year. You will see a bit more of it during 4th year and with less to do during the breaks. (Just spent one 4 week period studying for and taking step 2cs, taking a family vacation, and getting reacquainted with my Xbox one).
Can confirm—4th year is the bomb. The only issue is that it's hard to not go crazy with the newfound time and independence in order to actually complete the ERAS stuff that needs to get done.
 
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eefen

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Enjoy that bit of time when one can be master of your time from the comfort of your home. It's pretty much nonexistent during 3rd year. You will see a bit more of it during 4th year and with less to do during the breaks. (Just spent one 4 week period studying for and taking step 2cs, taking a family vacation, and getting reacquainted with my Xbox one).
Can confirm—4th year is the bomb. The only issue is that it's hard to not go crazy with the newfound time and independence in order to actually complete the ERAS stuff that needs to get done.
Haha yes. Fourth year is excellent. I also just took a month off for Step 2/new baby and my next two weeks will consist of 3 hrs/day of clinic x4 days/week. At the moment, I'm just trying to decide where to fit in my next block of time off. There is light at the end of the tunnel (before the next big tunnel, anyway...).
 

mehc012

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You took a day off each week in your first month? That's pretty impressive.
I've been taking at least one full day off every week, sometimes more. The first month is pretty low-key where I'm at.
 

GoodWillShunting

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There's no way to know, guy/gal. Weekends are gold mines for studying long hours without the useless interruptions of lecture and pointless school functions. You'll realize that during the week, you'll be tired in the evenings and may choose to hang out with family instead, and push school 'till the weekend. Nobody knows what's going to work except you during that specific weekend.

The answer is: do you have to catch up? Then do it. Can you spend more time on weekends with family? Then do it. Just like military shooting, aim, fire, adjust, etc. Play it by ear. Every week is different.
 
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Just depends on the amount and difficulty of the material. As well as when it is with your tests. The weekend after a test I wasn't doing jack.

That said, I think if you stay up with your lectures and review daily with Anki then its pretty easy to relax on the weekends. The only times I didn't would be when I would get a day behind in lecture and have to catch up on a weekend. Or the weekend before a test obvs.

Overall 1st year is not bad, especially for a non-trad like yourself who is used to being diligent and efficient with your time. I had a ton of free time. Went to 4 weddings. Spent alot of time with my wife. You will find a rhythm that works for you I think. My personal anecdote though is I made better grades and had more free time when I watched lectures at home on 2x speed and used Anki for daily review. And if you are going to take only one of those, its lectures on 2x speed alldayeveryday.
 

Goro

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I can't recommend that. But I have plenty of students with families (even single parents as students) and so it's possible to be a medical student and a family man/woman.

But your family will need to be very familiar with this scenario:

Them: What are you doing?
You: Studying.


Hey folks,

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death, but I'm interested to hear some fresh opinions as I'm about to start M1 next week and trying to get an accurate gauge of how to plan my schedule. As of now, my plan is to study all week but take Friday night and all of Saturday off -- would this be feasible for the most part?

I just finished a long military service, so I'm no stranger to working long days and have no problem doing so if necessary. But, I do have a wife and daughter, and I'd like to allocate some time to them every week if I can. If anybody has any anecdotes or tips from their own experiences I would love to hear them.
 

.hematoma.

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First half of M1 I took only Friday evenings off (after 5-6PM) to go on dates/party/eat fancy food, and I'd study full days Saturday and Sunday. Naturally that pattern left me exhausted, so second half I stopped studying a little earlier on Fridays (maybe like 4) and then I studied till like 4 on Saturdays, still full study days on Sunday. I did pretty well 1st year (honored 5/8 courses, which at my school is essentially 90%+ or top 10-20%), so I guess it helped to justify the exhausting schedule. However, M2 I will be taking Fridays after 6PM off and will study from 7AM-12PM Saturdays with the rest of the days off.

Major difference between M1 and M2 will be that I'm not going to go to class anymore M2... which essentially gives me 17 hours a day to study my way, so I can afford to take about a day off a week!
 

Stagg737

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Definitely doable. Bust your butt for the first month or two until you get a rhythm down then see what works for you. First year I studied a lot on weekends, but was done by 7 pm every night, sometimes earlier. Second year our curriculum shifted from mostly lectures and powerpoints to much more independent learning, so I'd study a ton during the week then take Every Saturday off and just review stuff on Sundays unless I had a test the following Monday. Then it was a long weekend, but I'd always take the day after a test off unless we had multiple tests that week.

You're going to have to work a lot harder than you probably ever have before, but burnout is real and getting adequate rest/breaks is just as important as your study periods.
 
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Hey folks,

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death, but I'm interested to hear some fresh opinions as I'm about to start M1 next week and trying to get an accurate gauge of how to plan my schedule. As of now, my plan is to study all week but take Friday night and all of Saturday off -- would this be feasible for the most part?

I just finished a long military service, so I'm no stranger to working long days and have no problem doing so if necessary. But, I do have a wife and daughter, and I'd like to allocate some time to them every week if I can. If anybody has any anecdotes or tips from their own experiences I would love to hear them.
I am now a 3rd year medical student and always took Friday night and the whole of Saturday off due to religious observances and not once did I fail or do poorly on a test. If anything it refreshed my mind from all the hardwork done the previous week and so reviewing on Sunday was a breeze. I'm by no means the most intelligent person but with hardwork and dedication to a strict schedule it can be done!
 

prettylittlebird

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Honestly, it depends on your priorities. For example, if your aim is to do well but you aren't stressed about honoring everything your study habits will be different than if you are hell bent on getting all the honors all the time. I wasn't too bothered about honoring anything first year and that took a ton of pressure off. It helped that honors at my school is very difficult to achieve (you basically have to score in the top 5% of the class) and I knew that wasn't important for me going into M1. This allowed me to take a lot of time off and really enjoy getting to know my classmates and the new area I was living, which is what was important to me. I ended up free most weekends unless it was leading up to an exam or was during a really tough block (aka Neuro). YMMV but my advice is to decide what is important to you and schedule yourself accordingly.
 

.hematoma.

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I can't recommend that. But I have plenty of students with families (even single parents as students) and so it's possible to be a medical student and a family man/woman.

But your family will need to be very familiar with this scenario:

Them: What are you doing?
You: Studying.
What is the basis of this lack of recommendation?
 

Goro

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The amount of material needed to absorb and retain is huge. It's not merely memorizing, you have to apply as well.

I once had a student who wanted to keep the Sabbath and refused to study on Sunday. This student failed one year, had to repeat, was at the bottom of the Class, failed and remediated, and then was dismissed after failing COMLEX.

Hence, I can't recommend taking an entire day off. It screams too risky to me.
What is the basis of this lack of recommendation?
 

.hematoma.

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The amount of material needed to absorb and retain is huge. It's not merely memorizing, you have to apply as well.

I once had a student who wanted to keep the Sabbath and refused to study on Sunday. This student failed one year, had to repeat, was at the bottom of the Class, failed and remediated, and then was dismissed after failing COMLEX.

Hence, I can't recommend taking an entire day off. It screams too risky to me.
Seems like you are basing your entire recommendation on anecdotal experience... in this student's case, it is unlikely that taking one day off is the reason why he/she was on the bottom of the class. It could have contributed to a lower rank (though that's also debatable), but definitely not the reason why the person ended up failing. Factors like efficient studying, study techniques, and unfortunate personal instances seem to usually be at play for students who fail out.

High volume of material requires sufficient rest to cement that material. 1/7 days of rest is valuable, given that a student is studying efficiently for the rest of the 6 days.
 

Goro

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I agree that one needs to rest (especially before exams), and my experience is not based on a single data point, but from close to 20 years of teaching medical students. Some people have a lot of firepower, but they're not the typical medical student.

OP will need to see what pace best fits himself and adjust time mgt accordingly. The latter, BTW, is a crucial survival skill for med students.

Seems like you are basing your entire recommendation on anecdotal experience... in this student's case, it is unlikely that taking one day off is the reason why he/she was on the bottom of the class. It could have contributed to a lower rank (though that's also debatable), but definitely not the reason why the person ended up failing. Factors like efficient studying, study techniques, and unfortunate personal instances seem to usually be at play for students who fail out.

High volume of material requires sufficient rest to cement that material. 1/7 days of rest is valuable, given that a student is studying efficiently for the rest of the 6 days.
 

.hematoma.

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I agree that one needs to rest (especially before exams), and my experience is not based on a single data point, but from close to 20 years of teaching medical students. Some people have a lot of firepower, but they're not the typical medical student.

OP will need to see what pace best fits himself and adjust time mgt accordingly. The latter, BTW, is a crucial survival skill for med students.
I don't know details about you since I'm a relatively new member here, but teaching medical students does not necessarily mean you know their study skills, unless you were a medical student as well and can provide your own experiences... if a student tells you they are studying 7 days a week, how could you know for sure? Med students can lie (and I assume some do). I apologize if you are an adcom who is also a physician, disregard my comment if that's the case! 20 years of experience is fantastic, but at the end of the day I still feel like it's anecdotal. Heck, this is a forum so I guess that doesn't matter!
 

Goro

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OK, believe what you want.

I don't know details about you since I'm a relatively new member here, but teaching medical students does not necessarily mean you know their study skills, unless you were a medical student as well and can provide your own experiences... if a student tells you they are studying 7 days a week, how could you know for sure? Med students can lie (and I assume some do). I apologize if you are an adcom who is also a physician, disregard my comment if that's the case! 20 years of experience is fantastic, but at the end of the day I still feel like it's anecdotal. Heck, this is a forum so I guess that doesn't matter!
 

Azete

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I agree that one needs to rest (especially before exams), and my experience is not based on a single data point, but from close to 20 years of teaching medical students. Some people have a lot of firepower, but they're not the typical medical student.

OP will need to see what pace best fits himself and adjust time mgt accordingly. The latter, BTW, is a crucial survival skill for med students.
Somewhat unrelated, but out of curiosity how many students do you get that are straight genius level (i.e. playing video games during lecture and getting high As on every exam)?

I'm not at the highest ranked school, but I have a couple classmates that watch lectures once the night before an exam and ace all of them and think Jesus, why is this guy not at Top 5? I also get a little (a lot) salty, because I have to work my ass off just to be mediocre.
 

Goro

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Probably about 1-5% of my class.

When I was a freshman in UG, I was taking a Gen Chem course and this guy would fall asleep in every class. Still scored 100%s. I think he went to SUNY Downstate for his MD.

Somewhat unrelated, but out of curiosity how many students do you get that are straight genius level (i.e. playing video games during lecture and getting high As on every exam)?

I'm not at the highest ranked school, but I have a couple classmates that watch lectures once the night before an exam and ace all of them and think Jesus, why is this guy not at Top 5? I also get a little (a lot) salty, because I have to work my ass off just to be mediocre.
 

sloop

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Somewhat unrelated, but out of curiosity how many students do you get that are straight genius level (i.e. playing video games during lecture and getting high As on every exam)?

I'm not at the highest ranked school, but I have a couple classmates that watch lectures once the night before an exam and ace all of them and think Jesus, why is this guy not at Top 5? I also get a little (a lot) salty, because I have to work my ass off just to be mediocre.
I don't think you have to be a genius to do this. Our lecture notes had most of of what was needed to ace the course in them, so if you just memorized/learned that, you'd do well. I found that if I went to lecture and read the notes at the end of the day, then did a refresher read before the test, it was a pretty straightforward to consistently honor courses in the first two years. It's less about being a genius and more about the fact that the information was largely presented to you on a silver platter.

But maybe my med school was weird that way.
 

Azete

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I don't think you have to be a genius to do this. Our lecture notes had most of of what was needed to ace the course in them, so if you just memorized/learned that, you'd do well. I found that if I went to lecture and read the notes at the end of the day, then did a refresher read before the test, it was a pretty straightforward to consistently honor courses in the first two years. It's less about being a genius and more about the fact that the information was largely presented to you on a silver platter.

But maybe my med school was weird that way.
I do something similar to what you're talking about, but I'm referring to the people that do literally nothing until the night before the exam, then watch the lectures once and score high As.

If this is common, then I'm in the wrong field.
 

sloop

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May 12, 2015
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I do something similar to what you're talking about, but I'm referring to the people that do literally nothing until the night before the exam, then watch the lectures once and score high As.

If this is common, then I'm in the wrong field.
I guess what I'm saying is that I think that's doable. I think there are more people who could get away with doing that than actually do it because of the neurotic personality in med school. I don't know how much my grades would have suffered, but as it stood I had plenty of time for myself and I got essentially all honors the first two years and scored 100s on a fair few exams. I sort of wonder if the extra studying was buying me much more than peace of mind. A lot of it did, in retrospect, feel like I was just spending time to keep from getting anxious about performing on the exams and about the fact that I "should" be studying (whatever that means).