How long does it take you to really learn and get a handle on a lecture's worth of material?

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2+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2017
Medical Student
Hey Guys,

I am a first year medical student and I just started my fourth week of medical school. The curriculum just changed this year where we have weekly take home timed quizzes that we can take anytime Friday through Sunday at noon. Even though it is my fourth week, I am still at odds on the best way to approach the material. Some students (and doctors) swear by Anki and advise to use it. Other students write everything out because that's how they learn. I've also heard of those that just read, make Anki cards, and go from there as their only two study resources.

From my academic experience, I know that flash cards work for me, that I need to write everything out, and that I am a visual learner. When I talk things out with others, that also helps the information to stick.

My question is, how do I incorporate all of these into a daily consistent study pattern? When I study (listening to the lecture, take notes, write out notes) for one lecture, it takes me about 5 hours (including breaks), without even making flashcards, talking it out, or going through questions. (Is this too much time spent?) There's so much material in medical school, I'm not sure whether it's worth it to use Anki since it'll take so much time. I think that I'm also a slow processor of information, so that might work against me. I'm already so behind, which leads me to be unprepared for the weekly quizzes. One of my main concerns is, even if I learn this material now, how will I commit it to long term memory if I don't use Anki?

My idea is, when you preview and go over a lecture you have to learn it right then and there. But do you all preview and take notes on a lecture, go to something else, then go back to the lecture and learn it? Or maybe go back to it a third time and review? How do you split up studying?

I don't want to procrastinate, our first block exam is in only a couple weeks but I don't know how to keep up with the material. I'm getting a little better in actually learning more of the material but there's still a ton of lectures from the first two weeks that I have to learn. I'm nervous about that as well.

(In addition to the ones above.)
What's your day to day study method and order?
How long does it take you (or should it take) to learn one lecture?
Do you use Anki? If so, how do you balance it along with studying?
If you don't use Anki, what's your plan for long-term retention for Step 1 (and beyond)?
How many lectures do you typically go through in a day?
When you study the lecture the first day, is it just a preview and taking notes? How many times do you review a lecture?

Thank You!!


5+ Year Member
May 21, 2013
Casterly Rock
Medical Student
If it's taking you five hours to get through one pass of one lecture, that is WAY too long. You're probably wasting too much time taking notes. Either don't take notes, or minimally annotate the powerpoint slides.
For me,

Preview: 30 minutes
Watch lecture on 1.5 speed: 30-40 minutes
Anki cards: 30 minutes

Repeat x3 or x4, depending on how many lectures we have that day. I never, ever fall more than a day behind on lecture. That's a recipe for disaster and the fact that you are in week 4 and have yet to learn some lectures from the first two weeks is probably not good.

So that's basically three passes right there, in under two hours. By that point I know the material decently well, and I nail down the details by going through my Anki flashcards a couple of times over the following days.

I would not worry about long-term retention too much, maybe others will disagree. You'll have a lot of time second year to study for step 1, and you'll probably remember more than you'd expect. A lot of those tiny details they teach you in lecture are not covered on Step 1.
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