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For people in the top 10% of their class: how much time do you spend studying?

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abcxyz0123

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How much time did you high achievers spend studying each week/day? Also, how much time did you spend studying outside of class, and how much time did you spend in class? Finally, what materials did you study from (textbooks, USMLE review books, class notes, etc?)
 

SexySurgeon

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Some people don't study at all...except the night before a test...they study the review notes or a high yeild book...do the old questions...and they ace the exam...
 

ZagDoc

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36 hours a day. If you really want to be in the top 10%, you will figure out how to make this possible.
 

ZagDoc

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if you're gonna give a worthless response at least make it funny

Fine, here it goes. Achieving academic success your first two years is an endeavor of decreasing returns on your efforts. Most find a comfortable medium where they can achieve success to their liking while still maintaining enough free time to retain sanity, but if you want to ensure that you are in the top 10% you need to exhibit significantly more effort than your peers to ensure that you know those few extra facts that they don't. This require pouring over your syllabus so much that you know every minute detail, and being ever vigilant in lecture and taking thorough notes to make sure you do not miss a small snippet of information the lecturer presents. Essentially you need to make sure you know an extra superfluous 100 bits of information in case 1 or 2 is on the exam. Especially if you school passes out honors based on a bell curve. Even then, some people just don't have it in them to honor everything. Every med school matriculant is used to being able to be in the top of their class if they put in enough effort, but your "competition" in medical school takes another jump in talent at this level, especially the upper crust. You will have classmates who are simply geniuses and able to blow a test out of the water with ease. But to ensure you get there you need to work your butt off. Likewise, there are people who have to work twice as hard as their average classmate in order to make sure they pass. There's no way to tell where you will land on the spectrum until you start medical school, as, like I said, everyone before medical school was used to being in the top of their class.

My own particular method of getting honors was, every day, to attend lecture in the mornings. Then, later in the day, review the material, create outlines/Q&As/flashcards, then actively pre-read for the next day's material. On saturday, I would once again review that week's material, then on sunday preread for the first time next week's material. This required on average 4-6 hours of studying outside the 4 hours of lecture, plus 12-15 hours of studying on the weekends. That's 55-59 hours a week of studying, which would break 65 hours on exam weeks as I began to go back over materials from the block the week before the exam. Of course, even with these methods, I still didn't honor some exams. And at numerous points in the year, fatigue set in and I wasn't able to keep up the intensity. I could have studied more to ensure I honored everything, but that would have required giving up my few precious hours a day not spent studying, which was a sacrifice I was not willing to make. But to consistently honor everything you need to be willing to make sacrifices. You have to weigh what is more important to you... time in the gym, time spent with a beloved hobby, time spent making a relationship with a significant other work, versus the time spent necessary to achieve a certain level of academic succes.
 
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SpinnerOfTruth

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I'll agree with what's his name up there on all but a couple things. I don't think that you should waste time writing anything. Every word you write is a paragraph that could've been re-read. Sure writing helps you remember something well. But so does reading it three more times.

Hmm... Let me think. I spend about an average of around 10-12 hours a day in class and studying. Never a day off. Doing that, you'll need to be a little crazy because the tests won't be hard enough to seperate your effort compared to those of other people. And that will drive you insane.
Let's say you have a bad day and miss like 2 questions, the next guy who doesn't know half of what you do has a good day and misses 2 or 3. It will drive you nuts. So, don't have any bad test days.
 

ZagDoc

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I'll agree with what's his name up there on all but a couple things. I don't think that you should waste time writing anything. Every word you write is a paragraph that could've been re-read. Sure writing helps you remember something well. But so does reading it three more times.

Hmm... Let me think. I spend about an average of around 10-12 hours a day in class and studying. Never a day off. Doing that, you'll need to be a little crazy because the tests won't be hard enough to seperate your effort compared to those of other people. And that will drive you insane.
Let's say you have a bad day and miss like 2 questions, the next guy who doesn't know half of what you do has a good day and misses 2 or 3. It will drive you nuts. So, don't have any bad test days.

This is one of the fallacies commonly perpetuated on SDN. What works for X doesn't necessarily work for Y. I'm tactile learner. Physically writing information reinforces it in my brain. For you, that is obviously not the case.

During orientation week during my MS1 orientation our class did an interesting activity to find who in our class were visual learners, auditory learners, and tactile learners. Results were all across the board. Being successful in medical school is about experimenting with different study techniques and finding what works best for you, personally. There is no golden formula or proven technique. To state one approach is better than the other or to firmly hold to a protocol which doesn't capitalize on your strengths is to go yourself a disservice. That's why I said the approach I use is my approach. It works for me. Individual mileage may vary.
 

Noobguy

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I'm not in med school, but I have a couple friends and family members that I've had this discussion with. My sister studied several hours every single day + weekends. She did average on the step 1 and landed in peds. One of my friends said he never studied and only crammed before exams. He destroyed the step 1 exam and graduated 2nd in his class at a good school. He told me medical school was pretty easy. So I guess it depends how smart you are.
 
N

njbmd

How much time did you high achievers spend studying each week/day? Also, how much time did you spend studying outside of class, and how much time did you spend in class? Finally, what materials did you study from (textbooks, USMLE review books, class notes, etc?)

In general, what got you into medical school can keep your there and even help you to excel there with necessary modifications. You adjust up or down based on what you need. I would strongly caution attempting to change or modify your study habits/skills but definitely tweak what you need to become most efficient with the large amount of material present.

I was the master of organization of my time and the material. It took about half of the first semester but I reached a workable solution that enabled me to attend the classes that were definitely worth attendance, keep up with the material presented and rest and relax so that I could get everything done.

The rest and relaxation portion of my schedule was important. Stress and angst can make everything less efficient for you as you tackle what comes. The good thing about medical school was that nothing was difficult to understand so that once I had everything organized for efficient mastery, getting the job done was seamless.

I also did not sit and grind through stuff for hours and hours. I had/have a 50-minute attention span. I would set a kitchen timer for 50 minutes and study until it went off. Then I would take a 10-minute break, relax, get a some liquids, walk around etc. I would then go back for another 50 minutes of work.

I would schedule my study time by breaking it down into tasks to be done and check these off as I went along. By doing this, I could see my progress. I made my schedule for the next day before I finished for the day so that I would know the pace of each day. For example, I would preview the upcoming lecture, log in the time spent in class, log in my lunch time and then my travel time. I would also have material for study on the underground which was a great time-saver for me (no parking worries).

As soon as a lecture was finished, I would fill in any small details and place those notes in my review block (made a notation on my daily schedule sheet).
For my evening study, I would review the notes from class and then prep for the next class. I would then review the notes that I had learned from the previous class too. In then end, by the time the exam week approached, I had previewed, learned and reviewed each lecture a minimum of three times. In short, it was in my long-term memory to stay.

My key from undergraduate to graduate to medical school and beyond was to keep everything organized and never, never get behind. Most of the time, I was two to three lectures ahead of the class. Any extra time I had was spent in the anatomy lab doing review. I scheduled in my gross lab out of lab dissection time (allow plenty of time for this) which means that it didn't encroach on my other class study time.

In short my tips:
  • It's not the amount of time spent studying but your efficiency.
  • Keep to a workable master study schedule and adjust up or down as needed. When you first get your syllabus, sit down and make your master study plan so that you know what you have to accomplish.
  • Don't ever get behind. If you do, go to where the class is and catch up on weekends. Never, never, never get behind.
  • Schedule in relaxation time but don't overdo this. I have seen people get carried away with "letting off steam". Relax in short periods but not for whole days unless it's at vacation time. If you have been efficient, you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about upcoming tests or materials.
  • Check off tasks as you get them done so that you see progress.
  • Don't react emotionally to the material, the instructors or anything else. You job is to master the material and it (or your instructors) don't care about you or your career.
  • Ignore what other folks boast and brag about how much they don't study.You have to do what it takes to master the material for yourself. If they don't ever study, good for them but my honors was my reward for taking care of my business and not listening to others. You have to do for yourself period.
 

SpinnerOfTruth

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This is one of the fallacies commonly perpetuated on SDN. What works for X doesn't necessarily work for Y. I'm tactile learner. Physically writing information reinforces it in my brain. For you, that is obviously not the case.

During orientation week during my MS1 orientation our class did an interesting activity to find who in our class were visual learners, auditory learners, and tactile learners. Results were all across the board. Being successful in medical school is about experimenting with different study techniques and finding what works best for you, personally. There is no golden formula or proven technique. To state one approach is better than the other or to firmly hold to a protocol which doesn't capitalize on your strengths is to go yourself a disservice. That's why I said the approach I use is my approach. It works for me. Individual mileage may vary.

Hey, I never said that I just read. I incorporate auditory, visual, and tactile learning styles into my studying. I believe even if you're dominate in one, a person can benefit from doing all three. I'm just saying, it is only my opinion that there are more effecient ways of studying than re-writing stuff.
I'm never meant to imply that what works for me will work for anyone else. Of course everyone needs to find out what works for them. That is just plain common sense.
 

Blesbok

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6-8hrs per day on a weekday and 12 hrs per day on a weekend for M2 year. 14hrs per day for boards.
 

Random Anesthesiologist

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In general, what got you into medical school can keep your there and even help you to excel there with necessary modifications. You adjust up or down based on what you need. I would strongly caution attempting to change or modify your study habits/skills but definitely tweak what you need to become most efficient with the large amount of material present.

I was the master of organization of my time and the material. It took about half of the first semester but I reached a workable solution that enabled me to attend the classes that were definitely worth attendance, keep up with the material presented and rest and relax so that I could get everything done.

The rest and relaxation portion of my schedule was important. Stress and angst can make everything less efficient for you as you tackle what comes. The good thing about medical school was that nothing was difficult to understand so that once I had everything organized for efficient mastery, getting the job done was seamless.

I also did not sit and grind through stuff for hours and hours. I had/have a 50-minute attention span. I would set a kitchen timer for 50 minutes and study until it went off. Then I would take a 10-minute break, relax, get a some liquids, walk around etc. I would then go back for another 50 minutes of work.

I would schedule my study time by breaking it down into tasks to be done and check these off as I went along. By doing this, I could see my progress. I made my schedule for the next day before I finished for the day so that I would know the pace of each day. For example, I would preview the upcoming lecture, log in the time spent in class, log in my lunch time and then my travel time. I would also have material for study on the underground which was a great time-saver for me (no parking worries).

As soon as a lecture was finished, I would fill in any small details and place those notes in my review block (made a notation on my daily schedule sheet).
For my evening study, I would review the notes from class and then prep for the next class. I would then review the notes that I had learned from the previous class too. In then end, by the time the exam week approached, I had previewed, learned and reviewed each lecture a minimum of three times. In short, it was in my long-term memory to stay.

My key from undergraduate to graduate to medical school and beyond was to keep everything organized and never, never get behind. Most of the time, I was two to three lectures ahead of the class. Any extra time I had was spent in the anatomy lab doing review. I scheduled in my gross lab out of lab dissection time (allow plenty of time for this) which means that it didn't encroach on my other class study time.

In short my tips:
  • It's not the amount of time spent studying but your efficiency.
  • Keep to a workable master study schedule and adjust up or down as needed. When you first get your syllabus, sit down and make your master study plan so that you know what you have to accomplish.
  • Don't ever get behind. If you do, go to where the class is and catch up on weekends. Never, never, never get behind.
  • Schedule in relaxation time but don't overdo this. I have seen people get carried away with "letting off steam". Relax in short periods but not for whole days unless it's at vacation time. If you have been efficient, you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about upcoming tests or materials.
  • Check off tasks as you get them done so that you see progress.
  • Don't react emotionally to the material, the instructors or anything else. You job is to master the material and it (or your instructors) don't care about you or your career.
  • Ignore what other folks boast and brag about how much they don't study.You have to do what it takes to master the material for yourself. If they don't ever study, good for them but my honors was my reward for taking care of my business and not listening to others. You have to do for yourself period.

Bookmarking this post. :thumbup:
 

Kirby175

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In general, what got you into medical school can keep your there and even help you to excel there with necessary modifications. You adjust up or down based on what you need. I would strongly caution attempting to change or modify your study habits/skills but definitely tweak what you need to become most efficient with the large amount of material present.

I was the master of organization of my time and the material. It took about half of the first semester but I reached a workable solution that enabled me to attend the classes that were definitely worth attendance, keep up with the material presented and rest and relax so that I could get everything done.

The rest and relaxation portion of my schedule was important. Stress and angst can make everything less efficient for you as you tackle what comes. The good thing about medical school was that nothing was difficult to understand so that once I had everything organized for efficient mastery, getting the job done was seamless.

I also did not sit and grind through stuff for hours and hours. I had/have a 50-minute attention span. I would set a kitchen timer for 50 minutes and study until it went off. Then I would take a 10-minute break, relax, get a some liquids, walk around etc. I would then go back for another 50 minutes of work.

I would schedule my study time by breaking it down into tasks to be done and check these off as I went along. By doing this, I could see my progress. I made my schedule for the next day before I finished for the day so that I would know the pace of each day. For example, I would preview the upcoming lecture, log in the time spent in class, log in my lunch time and then my travel time. I would also have material for study on the underground which was a great time-saver for me (no parking worries).

As soon as a lecture was finished, I would fill in any small details and place those notes in my review block (made a notation on my daily schedule sheet).
For my evening study, I would review the notes from class and then prep for the next class. I would then review the notes that I had learned from the previous class too. In then end, by the time the exam week approached, I had previewed, learned and reviewed each lecture a minimum of three times. In short, it was in my long-term memory to stay.

My key from undergraduate to graduate to medical school and beyond was to keep everything organized and never, never get behind. Most of the time, I was two to three lectures ahead of the class. Any extra time I had was spent in the anatomy lab doing review. I scheduled in my gross lab out of lab dissection time (allow plenty of time for this) which means that it didn't encroach on my other class study time.


In short my tips:
  • It's not the amount of time spent studying but your efficiency.
  • Keep to a workable master study schedule and adjust up or down as needed. When you first get your syllabus, sit down and make your master study plan so that you know what you have to accomplish.
  • Don't ever get behind. If you do, go to where the class is and catch up on weekends. Never, never, never get behind.
  • Schedule in relaxation time but don't overdo this. I have seen people get carried away with "letting off steam". Relax in short periods but not for whole days unless it's at vacation time. If you have been efficient, you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about upcoming tests or materials.
  • Check off tasks as you get them done so that you see progress.
  • Don't react emotionally to the material, the instructors or anything else. You job is to master the material and it (or your instructors) don't care about you or your career.
  • Ignore what other folks boast and brag about how much they don't study.You have to do what it takes to master the material for yourself. If they don't ever study, good for them but my honors was my reward for taking care of my business and not listening to others. You have to do for yourself period.

yes i found this extremely helpful! thank you very much :thumbup:
 

bluesTank

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You all mentioned that you reviewed the material before and after class, but would you necessarily have things memorized by then, or just have an understanding of all the material and then hardcore memorize things as the test approaches?
 

ZagDoc

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You all mentioned that you reviewed the material before and after class, but would you necessarily have things memorized by then, or just have an understanding of all the material and then hardcore memorize things as the test approaches?

It depends on the subject. In anatomy, if we encountered something like the brachial plexus, where I KNEW it would be on the exam, I learned it cold that afternoon and the next. In physiology, the important stuff was gaining a firm conceptual understanding so that when you began memorizing the minutiae before the exam it would all be in context. Etc, etc.

You'll develop a good sense of whats certain to appear on the exams the longer you are in medical school. You'll find yourself subconsciously prioritizing, where if you know something's important, you learn it that day. The superfluous little stuff you learn to cram, mainly because it isn't important clinically or for boards, you only need to know it for that exam.

That's what makes honors so time consuming to achieve, and somewhat of a crap shoot for some exams... the majority of your classmates are also very good at distilling the important facts/concepts out, so the knowledge base of the class as a whole when it comes to those questions is largely the same: most of the class gets these questions 90-100% correct. It's the "honors difficulty questions" on the exam that are specifically designed to test ridiculous minutiae details to distill out the members of the class that basically memorized the whole syllabus. Unfortunately, this is like memorizing the first 100 places of pi knowing there will be 5 questions on the test testing whether you knew a certain place somewhere between 1 and 100. You expend a ton of excess energy learning things that most likely won't be tested on. But if they are? That's the conundrum.
 

yeasterbunny

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Wait, I thought everyone on SDN was in the top 10% of their class...:D
 

chattkis

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I totally agree that it is all about efficiency, NOT time.

I probably studied 1-2 hours a day weekdays, and 2-4 hours on the weekend days and I honored almost every class.

Am I super smart? def not. I had not even taken a biochem class before medical school.

But when I studied, I *actually* studied. Hard-core for 2 hours instead of puttering around for 4...

(and I went to class which = one pass through the material already)
 

Random Anesthesiologist

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I totally agree that it is all about efficiency, NOT time.

I probably studied 1-2 hours a day weekdays, and 2-4 hours on the weekend days and I honored almost every class.

Am I super smart? def not. I had not even taken a biochem class before medical school.

But when I studied, I *actually* studied. Hard-core for 2 hours instead of puttering around for 4...

(and I went to class which = one pass through the material already)

I haven't started classes yet, but in my undergrad/other grad degree courses I did the best when I had regular attendance. I think the reason is the first pass through that you mentioned.

I suppose it's not for everyone (some can stay at home and learn) but it sure seems to help me a lot.
 

chattkis

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how did you do tthat through human anatomy! ...

I think pre-reading and going to every lab helped with anatomy. I didn't study any more in anatomy than in any other class - I just forced myself to learn it the first time through.
The pay off was free time with the hubby & family, so that was my motivation.
 
A

abooodMD

I totally agree that it is all about efficiency, NOT time.

I probably studied 1-2 hours a day weekdays, and 2-4 hours on the weekend days and I honored almost every class.

Am I super smart? def not. I had not even taken a biochem class before medical school.

But when I studied, I *actually* studied. Hard-core for 2 hours instead of puttering around for 4...

(and I went to class which = one pass through the material already)


you are a special case,
last semester, I had alot of lectures per day, they were about 3 or 4 lectures per day in about 5 hours, and as soon as coming home, I study till the night, but unfortunately I can't finish the lectures which I'd in that day, so the materials accumulate and the exams week comes quickly, and in that time I feel like there is no chance to get honors.
 
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