eggs.pancakes

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I am a 2nd year student at an MD school in the US. My school has an organ systems based curriculum. We are 4 weeks into our Neuroanatomy block and I am failing. We have had 3 exams so far, 1 of which is an anatomy practical. I haven't passed any of these. I'm terrified of failing a course and have no idea what to do.

I had trouble with the very first class of medical school which was a Biochemistry course and did ok after that. I am toward the bottom of the class, but never to the point where I was failing.

There is so much material that I have a hard time even getting through it all. Before exams, I have only had the chance to look at each lecture one time. Not even work with the material, just read the powerpoints.

I feel very upset about how my grades have been and am worried that I will fail the course, and then have to repeat the year. We have had 20% of our grade in so far and I'm at about a 60% average for that. Please help...I feel so sad about this.
 
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Perhaps reach out to your classmates and see how they're studying for the exams. Set up study groups and study together so you can have your questions answered and learn in a more productive manner. Why do you only have time to view the lecture once? Are you busy with other commitments? If so, reevaluate those commitments and determine whether those are taking too much of your study time.
 

operaman

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Sorry you're having some trouble. Hard to give good advice without knowing you personally, but I can offer some general ideas and you can accept/reject them as you see fit.

1) You're not studying enough. Without fail, everyone I ever tutored who failed/was failing had this in common. Nothing in medical school is that hard. I could teach any of it to a 12 year old. Only catch is that there are about 50,000 simple things to learn in 2 years, so it takes time. Lots of time.
2) You're not getting enough repetitions of the material. Another common thread and one you already alluded to above. Reps are more valuable than in-depth passes. So do whatever you have to: anki, recordings at 2x speed, etc.
3) You aren't fully taking advantage of your resources. Tutors, study groups, faculty reviews, etc. If there's anything offered, take it. If there isn't, ask someone if it could be. You need to find some help asap, ideally from a smart upperclassman whose taken the exam before and has a sense of what you need to know.
4) In line with #1 above: you should be studying from about 7am until 10pm every day, including classes and mandatory stuff. Subtract meals and 30 minutes somewhere for a break, but for now you need to eat/sleep/breathe this stuff. You can dial back the time as your grades pick up.
 
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i agree with the above. I think re-vise your definition of "studying a lot" into "studying all the time" and then dial it down as you get a hang of it. Good luck, you can do it. If you make the subject the center of your attention, it is unlikely to be a problem in the future. A lot of my friends who don't fare well often don't put in their fair share and/or don't care about learning things as best as possible.
 
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lmn

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4) In line with #1 above: you should be studying from about 7am until 10pm every day, including classes and mandatory stuff. Subtract meals and 30 minutes somewhere for a break, but for now you need to eat/sleep/breathe this stuff. You can dial back the time as your grades pick up.
There is 0% chance that they should need to study anywhere near from 7am - 10pm everyday. That is near impossible and completely unsustainable. OP needs to rework how they are studying and actually use the time they spend studying effectively, instead of being on FB/shopping/w.e. You could study 24/7, but if your study habits are complete trash you are still going to end up failing.

OP meet with your advising services at your school, your study skills need much more help than what can easily be transmitted over the internet. 2nd year is hard, and a lot different than ms1 for most places, get some good help on how to change your habits and you'll pull through.
 

tvelocity514

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There is 0% chance that they should need to study anywhere near from 7am - 10pm everyday. That is near impossible and completely unsustainable. OP needs to rework how they are studying and actually use the time they spend studying effectively, instead of being on FB/shopping/w.e. You could study 24/7, but if your study habits are complete trash you are still going to end up failing.

OP meet with your advising services at your school, your study skills need much more help than what can easily be transmitted over the internet. 2nd year is hard, and a lot different than ms1 for most places, get some good help on how to change your habits and you'll pull through.
I don't think it's near impossible to study that much. I do 8am-10pm everyday (all of first year and now in second) with 1-1.5 hr break from 330-5 to workout, nap etc. you get use to it after a while and I'm able to score well on exams. Everyone has a different learning style and some need more time than others.

I do agree with the study habits part (changing his current ones) and with previous posters who say that you need to get through the material more. Asking for help/advice from upperclassmen is a great idea. We have a mentor that's a year ahead of us in our class. Do yall have this? If not, most should be willing to help you . Neuro was a little harder as well. I thought High yield neuroanatomy was a great and quick overview - especially for big picture stuff. Good luck!!
 

Roxas

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Sorry you're having some trouble. Hard to give good advice without knowing you personally, but I can offer some general ideas and you can accept/reject them as you see fit.

1) You're not studying enough. Without fail, everyone I ever tutored who failed/was failing had this in common. Nothing in medical school is that hard. I could teach any of it to a 12 year old. Only catch is that there are about 50,000 simple things to learn in 2 years, so it takes time. Lots of time.
2) You're not getting enough repetitions of the material. Another common thread and one you already alluded to above. Reps are more valuable than in-depth passes. So do whatever you have to: anki, recordings at 2x speed, etc.
3) You aren't fully taking advantage of your resources. Tutors, study groups, faculty reviews, etc. If there's anything offered, take it. If there isn't, ask someone if it could be. You need to find some help asap, ideally from a smart upperclassman whose taken the exam before and has a sense of what you need to know.
4) In line with #1 above: you should be studying from about 7am until 10pm every day, including classes and mandatory stuff. Subtract meals and 30 minutes somewhere for a break, but for now you need to eat/sleep/breathe this stuff. You can dial back the time as your grades pick up.
I'm in a nearly identical situation as the OP, and I appreciate the advice
 
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Microglia

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The problem sounds like lack of repetition- you may be spending too much time trying to understand everything in great detail. All you really need in med school are the trends and key points, heck, even step I really only tested the key points/overview that's in first aid. Don't try to obtain PhD level knowledge of every lecture, it's a waste. Ask yourself- if I were making an exam, what concepts would be important enough to test? The goal is to be able to go through every lecture 2-3 times before the test- the repetition is what makes the memory.

Neuro anatomy is tricky at first- that's coming from someone with a neuro background. Spend time drawing it out. If you can draw it, you can remember it.
 
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repititionition

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Draw it to know it sucks. There's no context. It's like teaching someone to draw a detailed sailboat without talking about what a sailboat is or what their purpose is.

Good idea, terrible execution.
 
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bashwell

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Draw it to know it sucks. There's no context. It's like teaching someone to draw a detailed sailboat without talking about what a sailboat is or what their purpose is.

Good idea, terrible execution.
Damn, I had no idea. (I've never used it myself, just thought it might be helpful as I heard others talk about it). Thanks.
 

lmn

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I don't think it's near impossible to study that much. I do 8am-10pm everyday (all of first year and now in second) with 1-1.5 hr break from 330-5 to workout, nap etc. you get use to it after a while and I'm able to score well on exams. Everyone has a different learning style and some need more time than others.

I do agree with the study habits part (changing his current ones) and with previous posters who say that you need to get through the material more. Asking for help/advice from upperclassmen is a great idea. We have a mentor that's a year ahead of us in our class. Do yall have this? If not, most should be willing to help you . Neuro was a little harder as well. I thought High yield neuroanatomy was a great and quick overview - especially for big picture stuff. Good luck!!
How in the world do you keep up a social life, significant other, research, outside school activities if you are going from 8am-10pm everyday? That sounds like a horrible work/life balance...
 

pacman2018

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How in the world do you keep up a social life, significant other, research, outside school activities if you are going from 8am-10pm everyday? That sounds like a horrible work/life balance...
yeah, doesn't make any sense to me. just treat it like a full time job. maybe ramp it to 60 hours test week. first two years shouldn't be like that
 
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Entadus

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How in the world do you keep up a social life, significant other, research, outside school activities if you are going from 8am-10pm everyday? That sounds like a horrible work/life balance...
You DON'T do any research if you are not even passing your classes... and if your S.O. cares about you at all I'm sure they would understand the need to ramp up the hours until you are safely in the passing range once again

EDIT: And you can find a GREAT guide to drawing the spinal cord and brain stem in Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple. Seriously, that book is gold. A few hours will have you quickly diagnosing any brain stem lesion by drawing the location of the nuclei by memory.
 
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Good advice so far, but I'm going to echo recommendation to speak with people like course directors, academic counseling, Dean of academic or student affairs, etc. Show these people you're struggling but really making an effort to improve however you can. Whether they end up giving you good advice or not, a good relationship with them should go a long way if you do happen to fail with regard to their decisions about remediation

How in the world do you keep up a social life, significant other, research, outside school activities if you are going from 8am-10pm everyday? That sounds like a horrible work/life balance...
It is a horrible work life balance. If you're failing, you do not have a work life balance except as need to maintain your sanity. You have work work balance
 

tvelocity514

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How in the world do you keep up a social life, significant other, research, outside school activities if you are going from 8am-10pm everyday? That sounds like a horrible work/life balance...
Some people might deem that a horrible work/life balance, but it isn't to me. I dated my significant other a year prior to med school to establish a good relationship first. I'm very fortunate my SO is very mature/understanding and even does their own work (or cooks etc) when coming over every weekend. We eat dinner together and still have time for a movie now and then (and lots of Netflix TV shows at night after studying). We also go to Church and lunch together on Sundays so that's a nice break. I have a lot of friends through school and outside of school. I don't see my outside friends as much because I prioritize my family and SO during my off time but I'm ok with putting school, SO, and family above my outside friends right now. To the research comment- I did research this summer from 9-5 and it was amazing and I got a few publications. You don't have to do any research during your first or second year.

I think everyone should view med school as a full time job (plus whatever else they need in order to do well and achieve their goals). There is no exact time limit or study strategy for everyone. We are all different and it requires more/less time and effort depending on who you are and what you want out of life. If you are going to put so much effort into getting into medical school, I'm not sure why you would slack off in order to have more fun/time off. Everyone needs a break- I completely agree- but you don't need a ton of time off. The majority of residencies are not going to give you a great work/life balance for sure. While I do study a decent amount, I wouldn't classify having time to workout, take a nap, and see my SO/ watch a Netflix show each night a "bad work/life balance".

Edit: Op I think Entadus had some great advice above. I can't +1 from my own use, but my roommate last year read that book in a week and said it was super helpful.
 
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lmn

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You DON'T do any research if you are not even passing your classes... and if your S.O. cares about you at all I'm sure they would understand the need to ramp up the hours until you are safely in the passing range once again

EDIT: And you can find a GREAT guide to drawing the spinal cord and brain stem in Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple. Seriously, that book is gold. A few hours will have you quickly diagnosing any brain stem lesion by drawing the location of the nuclei by memory.
The guy said he studies 8am-10pm everyday throughout m1 and now into m2. Ya maybe work hard for a block or so until you fix your study skills, but you should never have to study that much during m1/m2 years, there is a lot of material and it is challenging, but it is nowhere near that level. Now if by 8am-10pm you mean the typical med student "all day" studying that is filled with hanging out with med school friends, FB, netflix/youtube, etc then that's a different story.

Some people might deem that a horrible work/life balance, but it isn't to me. I dated my significant other a year prior to med school to establish a good relationship first. I'm very fortunate my SO is very mature/understanding and even does their own work (or cooks etc) when coming over every weekend. We eat dinner together and still have time for a movie now and then (and lots of Netflix TV shows at night after studying). We also go to Church and lunch together on Sundays so that's a nice break. I have a lot of friends through school and outside of school. I don't see my outside friends as much because I prioritize my family and SO during my off time but I'm ok with putting school, SO, and family above my outside friends right now. To the research comment- I did research this summer from 9-5 and it was amazing and I got a few publications. You don't have to do any research during your first or second year.

I think everyone should view med school as a full time job (plus whatever else they need in order to do well and achieve their goals). There is no exact time limit or study strategy for everyone. We are all different and it requires more/less time and effort depending on who you are and what you want out of life. If you are going to put so much effort into getting into medical school, I'm not sure why you would slack off in order to have more fun/time off. Everyone needs a break- I completely agree- but you don't need a ton of time off. The majority of residencies are not going to give you a great work/life balance for sure. While I do study a decent amount, I wouldn't classify having time to workout, take a nap, and see my SO/ watch a Netflix show each night a "bad work/life balance".

Edit: Op I think Entadus had some great advice above. I can't +1 from my own use, but my roommate last year read that book in a week and said it was super helpful.
Ok so you really don't mean 8am-10pm every day then with only an hour and a half or so of a break other than time spent eating. That is a lot more sustainable than trying to be hard studying from 8am-10pm. I would seriously doubt there is any information out there at all saying that kind of studying pattern maintained over 2 years is anywhere remotely near effective. Of course you should work hard in med school, but if someone spends all day everyday just studying hard during m1/m2 years, I don't see how they are going to maintain anything near a life when you get to m3 or residency.
 
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eggs.pancakes

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Hey everyone, thanks so much for the advice. Since posting this, I have:

- Met with the block director get suggestions on how to improve. He gave me some study techniques that helped struggling students in the past, like writing out what I remember from a lecture after reading it as a way to "test" myself. And to ask the instructors if I have any questions. I brought up the issue that I have of instructors not willing to meet with students one-on-one for anatomy (they prefer to teach in groups for time management reasons) but I don't learn well in groups if I am already behind because I can't keep up with what is going on. He said because I am not doing well he or another faculty member could meet with me.

-I set up a tutoring session with a 2nd year student for Monday through my school's free tutoring program

-I studied all morning and afternoon yesterday with one of the top students in my class and are meeting again this weekend

-I purchased Clinical Neuranatomy Made Simple and plan to start going through it this weekend

To be perfectly honest, it is pretty impossible for me to study 8AM-10PM with only 1-1.5 hours off. I do have a significant other and a pet and I need to have time for that. But I know I need to ramp up my studying hours as much as possible.

I think the difficult part for me about this material is that our block director does want us to know basically everything - including the minutiae that I could disregard in other blocks. I do well with general concepts and patterns but have trouble memorizing. That is why I struggled in biochemistry as well, because I had difficulty memorizing all of the pathways. I feel the same way now as I did then - there are so many different reflex pathways that I get them all confused with each other
 

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Hey everyone, thanks so much for the advice. Since posting this, I have:

- Met with the block director get suggestions on how to improve. He gave me some study techniques that helped struggling students in the past, like writing out what I remember from a lecture after reading it as a way to "test" myself. And to ask the instructors if I have any questions. I brought up the issue that I have of instructors not willing to meet with students one-on-one for anatomy (they prefer to teach in groups for time management reasons) but I don't learn well in groups if I am already behind because I can't keep up with what is going on. He said because I am not doing well he or another faculty member could meet with me.

-I set up a tutoring session with a 2nd year student for Monday through my school's free tutoring program

-I studied all morning and afternoon yesterday with one of the top students in my class and are meeting again this weekend

-I purchased Clinical Neuranatomy Made Simple and plan to start going through it this weekend

To be perfectly honest, it is pretty impossible for me to study 8AM-10PM with only 1-1.5 hours off. I do have a significant other and a pet and I need to have time for that. But I know I need to ramp up my studying hours as much as possible.

I think the difficult part for me about this material is that our block director does want us to know basically everything - including the minutiae that I could disregard in other blocks. I do well with general concepts and patterns but have trouble memorizing. That is why I struggled in biochemistry as well, because I had difficulty memorizing all of the pathways. I feel the same way now as I did then - there are so many different reflex pathways that I get them all confused with each other
Good luck man. Neuroanatomy is tough. http://headneckbrainspine.com/web_flash/newmodules/Brain MRI.swf
I like this website because it gives you an idea of the 3 dimensional relationship of the anatomy and it may be useful when you're reading mr images yourself
 
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tvelocity514

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Hey everyone, thanks so much for the advice. Since posting this, I have:

- Met with the block director get suggestions on how to improve. He gave me some study techniques that helped struggling students in the past, like writing out what I remember from a lecture after reading it as a way to "test" myself. And to ask the instructors if I have any questions. I brought up the issue that I have of instructors not willing to meet with students one-on-one for anatomy (they prefer to teach in groups for time management reasons) but I don't learn well in groups if I am already behind because I can't keep up with what is going on. He said because I am not doing well he or another faculty member could meet with me.

-I set up a tutoring session with a 2nd year student for Monday through my school's free tutoring program

-I studied all morning and afternoon yesterday with one of the top students in my class and are meeting again this weekend

-I purchased Clinical Neuranatomy Made Simple and plan to start going through it this weekend

To be perfectly honest, it is pretty impossible for me to study 8AM-10PM with only 1-1.5 hours off. I do have a significant other and a pet and I need to have time for that. But I know I need to ramp up my studying hours as much as possible.

I think the difficult part for me about this material is that our block director does want us to know basically everything - including the minutiae that I could disregard in other blocks. I do well with general concepts and patterns but have trouble memorizing. That is why I struggled in biochemistry as well, because I had difficulty memorizing all of the pathways. I feel the same way now as I did then - there are so many different reflex pathways that I get them all confused with each other
Sounds like you have made some great steps towards doing better. Good luck! You can do it!! :)
 

Mad Jack

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The problem sounds like lack of repetition- you may be spending too much time trying to understand everything in great detail. All you really need in med school are the trends and key points, heck, even step I really only tested the key points/overview that's in first aid. Don't try to obtain PhD level knowledge of every lecture, it's a waste. Ask yourself- if I were making an exam, what concepts would be important enough to test? The goal is to be able to go through every lecture 2-3 times before the test- the repetition is what makes the memory.

Neuro anatomy is tricky at first- that's coming from someone with a neuro background. Spend time drawing it out. If you can draw it, you can remember it.
Pretty much this. I do decently well in class by paying attention not to the material, but to the professor and their testing style. What do they emphasize? How have they built their tests in the past? Some professors are big picture people, that will build 90% of a test on big picture stuff. Others are very into a particular sub-discipline and tend to test out of that discipline- the biochem guy that's 90% cancer biochem, the anatomy guy who's all about fascia, etc. I know less than a lot of my classmates, but I know the right stuff more often than not by focusing on each professor's style, which helps substantially.
 

Mad Jack

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Also, does your school let you remediate a class? If so, neuro will probably be the only class you fail, so you'll still be able to move on.