How many hours can you study daily and still retain most of the material?

Slowmo214

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I know this is different for each person but I'm still thinking there's an absolute limit. At some point the law of diminishing returns comes to play and more studying could even result in a negative outcome (if you burn out). The reason I'm asking this is because I'm in a situation where I have to do 10 hours a day for about 2,5 months. I don't go to class save for mandatory labs (maybe 6 hours a week) and can pretty much put everything else on hold until I get everything done at the end of May. For someone who's used to AT MOST 4 hours a day this seems difficult. Is my goal unreasonable? Looking for some encouragement.
 

bnichols0330

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10 hours a day is definitely possible if you don't go to class. The trick to maintaining that schedule is to break it up. 2 hr lunch breaks or work-outs or whatever else you enjoy. Also, you will have to take a day off every once in a while or you will completely burn out. Usually, I will choose one of the days that I do have to go to class to take off the rest of the afternoon & night after class. That usually allows time for some distraction & recouping before starting back the next day. Hang in there & remember 4 hrs in the morning, 3 hrs in the afternoon, & 3 at night = 10 hours (don't try to go 10 hrs straight.
 

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bnichols0330 said:
10 hours a day is definitely possible if you don't go to class. The trick to maintaining that schedule is to break it up. 2 hr lunch breaks or work-outs or whatever else you enjoy. Also, you will have to take a day off every once in a while or you will completely burn out. Usually, I will choose one of the days that I do have to go to class to take off the rest of the afternoon & night after class. That usually allows time for some distraction & recouping before starting back the next day. Hang in there & remember 4 hrs in the morning, 3 hrs in the afternoon, & 3 at night = 10 hours (don't try to go 10 hrs straight.
Thanks for writing this.
 

8744

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Slowmo214 said:
I know this is different for each person but I'm still thinking there's an absolute limit. At some point the law of diminishing returns comes to play and more studying could even result in a negative outcome (if you burn out). The reason I'm asking this is because I'm in a situation where I have to do 10 hours a day for about 2,5 months. I don't go to class save for mandatory labs (maybe 6 hours a week) and can pretty much put everything else on hold until I get everything done at the end of May. For someone who's used to AT MOST 4 hours a day this seems difficult. Is my goal unreasonable? Looking for some encouragement.
In medical school, four hours per day of studying is enough provided you study every day and the four hours are quality study hours with no SDN, no eating, gossiping, daydreaming, or other none-focused activities.

I bet most people, if they kept a log of their actual study hours would be amazed at how little they studied compared to how much they thought they studied. While people tend to remember the four-day desperation cram-fest right before the big exam, they forget the two weeks they completely blew off after the last exam.

A lot of what passes for studying is just catch-up.

As for being able to retain the material, don't sweat it. You're going to forget most of it because most of it will be useless for your clinical activities. No matter how much time you spend memorizing, if you don't use the information the neural connections are going to get weaker and weaker until, except for a vague residue of general knowledge, the details will be gone forever.

That's why we have books.
 

8744

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bnichols0330 said:
10 hours a day is definitely possible if you don't go to class. The trick to maintaining that schedule is to break it up. 2 hr lunch breaks or work-outs or whatever else you enjoy. Also, you will have to take a day off every once in a while or you will completely burn out. Usually, I will choose one of the days that I do have to go to class to take off the rest of the afternoon & night after class. That usually allows time for some distraction & recouping before starting back the next day. Hang in there & remember 4 hrs in the morning, 3 hrs in the afternoon, & 3 at night = 10 hours (don't try to go 10 hrs straight.

Absolutely right. I meant four hours in addition to lecture time.
 
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Slowmo214

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Normally I would agree about 4 hours being enough. However, I'm in a situation where I simply need more to make it. I need to retake a couple of exams (and also study for them) in addition to the courses that are running right now. Also, I'm trying to transfer to another school which means I'll have to retake the entrance exam at the end of May (the system works a bit differenly here in Finland) and I need to prepare for that as well.

I guess the key to success is breaking it up, like Bnichols said. It's not like I need to do this for a year, only two and a half months.
 

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I am able to comfortably get in 13 hours each day, every day and I have been doing this since beginning of 2nd year and will continue till july. It takes about 2 weeks to build the stamina and you have to b emotivated because it is not fun but i find that i retain and learn alot and once the stamina is built you do not get tired. The important thing is to make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep each night orwhatever you need cause its impossible to do wihtout sleep.
 
B

Blade28

Back in college, I could study 12-14 hours a day and be fine. Now, 4-5 seems to be the max.
 

TheRussian

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It's been shown that when you study you retain the stuff at the very beginning and at the very end much better then the stuff in the middle. So if you study for 2hrs you'll know the first 15min and the last 15 min really well but the stuff in the middle, not so much. Thus the trick is to study in 15 minute bursts and then take small breaks maybe a minute or two. If you can do this you'll be able to retain a lot more and you won't need to spend as much time studying in the long run because you won't have to go over the same material over and over.
 

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TheRussian said:
It's been shown that when you study you retain the stuff at the very beginning and at the very end much better then the stuff in the middle. So if you study for 2hrs you'll know the first 15min and the last 15 min really well but the stuff in the middle, not so much. Thus the trick is to study in 15 minute bursts and then take small breaks maybe a minute or two. If you can do this you'll be able to retain a lot more and you won't need to spend as much time studying in the long run because you won't have to go over the same material over and over.

Whoa, very interesting. Guess I'll try that one... after this next test block. I'm stuck in the rut of "frantically catching up." Whoops, gotta work on that! :mad:

I agree with people in that taking breaks is key.
 

eralza

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This past summer, I tried something that worked pretty well.
I would study for 45 minutes, then meditate quietly for 15 minutes. The time was regulated with the interval timer on my watch - very important for the 15 minute meditation, which would turn into sleep near the end. This method won't work too well if you are with a group, but for solo work, it may be something to try.
 

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eralza said:
This past summer, I tried something that worked pretty well.
I would study for 45 minutes, then meditate quietly for 15 minutes. The time was regulated with the interval timer on my watch - very important for the 15 minute meditation, which would turn into sleep near the end. This method won't work too well if you are with a group, but for solo work, it may be something to try.

The problem with this method is that you are making studying a lifestyle when it should just be a routine activity, no more life-altering than mowing the lawn or cleaning the house.

In other words, if you find that your life revolves around studying then you are studying either too much or you are not studying efficiently.

I realize that medical school itself is something of a lifestyle. Still, you don't have to let it consume every waking hour of your life. Presumably we all have other interests.
 

wam_256

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TheRussian said:
It's been shown that when you study you retain the stuff at the very beginning and at the very end much better then the stuff in the middle. So if you study for 2hrs you'll know the first 15min and the last 15 min really well but the stuff in the middle, not so much. Thus the trick is to study in 15 minute bursts and then take small breaks maybe a minute or two. If you can do this you'll be able to retain a lot more and you won't need to spend as much time studying in the long run because you won't have to go over the same material over and over.
I'll give it a try :)
 

BCF81

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Im just curious if you guys really believe that studying 8, 10, 13 (!) hours a day is really necessary to succeed highly in med school? Im headed into my first year come fall, and I can't imagine spending that much time hunched over material in a library every day for the next several years. :eek:

Of course I know studying will require large time commitments and it's different for most people. However I can't see how someone can get away with 4 hours a day and others need 10-13 hours?

What do you all believe is the average study time for a run of the mill med student at your schools?
 

Ramoray

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BCF81 said:
Im just curious if you guys really believe that studying 8, 10, 13 (!) hours a day is really necessary to succeed highly in med school? Im headed into my first year come fall, and I can't imagine spending that much time hunched over material in a library every day for the next several years. :eek:

Of course I know studying will require large time commitments and it's different for most people. However I can't see how someone can get away with 4 hours a day and others need 10-13 hours?

What do you all believe is the average study time for a run of the mill med student at your schools?
You will learn and you must remember there is a HUGE difference in passing and getting through your first 2 years in med school v. doing well and learning all you can. I think i myself and most people i know could easily pass all the exams and get through passing step 1 with studying 4 hours or less a day average, even if that meant taking a couple weeks off after a test then creamming or studying steadily for 4 days or whatever. It is certainly easily feasible.
However if you want to for example honor your classes, rock step 1 or have a desire to go above and beyond your requirements and learn alot more in depth about everything then you study for whatever reason then 4 hours just wont cut it. You basically can study as much or as little as you want. You are never "done" studying in reality but you definetly can be done at 4 or 3 hours a day no probs. So dont worry just set some goals and work in the first month of school to see how many hours you must put in to meet them
 

TheRussian

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Ramoray said:
You will learn and you must remember there is a HUGE difference in passing and getting through your first 2 years in med school v. doing well and learning all you can. I think i myself and most people i know could easily pass all the exams and get through passing step 1 with studying 4 hours or less a day average, even if that meant taking a couple weeks off after a test then creamming or studying steadily for 4 days or whatever. It is certainly easily feasible.
However if you want to for example honor your classes, rock step 1 or have a desire to go above and beyond your requirements and learn alot more in depth about everything then you study for whatever reason then 4 hours just wont cut it. You basically can study as much or as little as you want. You are never "done" studying in reality but you definetly can be done at 4 or 3 hours a day no probs. So dont worry just set some goals and work in the first month of school to see how many hours you must put in to meet them
I think this is absolutely not true in the sense that if you want to honor you need to study a lot more. There is usually a strech of about 4 to 5 days where I may study for 6 to 7 hrs/day but the rest of the time (about 2 1/2 weeks) I hardly study at all. And guess what, I'm in a position where I can honor my classes provided I can do well on the final. It depends on you. Some people feel they need to study more than others. Just wanted you to know the other side.
 

nala

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I'm curious as to how many of you have "blocks" vs. traditional semester schedules. I'm at a school where we have traditional semester long classes (5-6 classes for the entire semester)...I don't see how I could only study 4 hours a day, total, for all 5 classes and do well.
 

TheRussian

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At my school we take 4 courses each term and all of our exams are at the same time. Despite that, I don't feel I need to study that much.
 

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I go to a school with semester long classes and we have 4 classes this semester. We also grade on an A-F system. I've got A's in 2 classes, a solid B in the other, and a C in the 4th. I'll admit my study habits are piss poor but I've been able to get through med school with mostly B's with them.

I just don't understand why it takes 13 hours a day in order to do well in school. I applaud the dedication and the stamina, and to be honest I'm jealous, but I just don't understand it. I've made 100's on tests, or at least the highest grade in the class with far, far less studying. If someone studies that much and doesn't make at least a 260 on the Step 1 I'd be asking for a tuition refund.

I guess everyone is different, but I just can't identify with people saying you need to study that much in order to honor classes.
 

thackl

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TheRussian said:
I think this is absolutely not true in the sense that if you want to honor you need to study a lot more. There is usually a strech of about 4 to 5 days where I may study for 6 to 7 hrs/day but the rest of the time (about 2 1/2 weeks) I hardly study at all. And guess what, I'm in a position where I can honor my classes provided I can do well on the final. It depends on you. Some people feel they need to study more than others. Just wanted you to know the other side.
I'm gonna have to second this. You can honor without running yourself crazy with studying. The people like me who are learning class notes and high yield information (and really understanding it) are doing very well. Then there are the ones who have 5 books for every subject, go to every class, every lab, every review, every everything for fear they might miss something and get a question wrong..... you want to talk about retention and diminishing returns....... throw in insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Not worth it! Plus the results aren't gauranteed. Of the people in my class studying this, only a few are at the top.