How to Study in Dental School?

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Aug 25, 2018
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Hi all! I am curious as to how y'all study in dental school? I will be starting dental school next year. As of right now, I write out all of my notes and just spend time memorizing. I was wondering if there are better ways to study and wanted to try out some more efficient methods in my spring semester of undergrad rather than in dental school. Thank you for sharing!

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Try not rewriting. Focus on developing some auditory memory try to use the 8 hrs you use in class don’t just sit there and play or something like that. It’s just your time is so precious and it would be worth to use at least half the time in class to try to learn. If you catch half of what they teach in class you only would need to review notes after class or maybe save one slot for a class each week.
I don’t think dental school is all that different from college I haven’t changed my study habits a lot but definitely the volume went up by a lot. That means you gotta give yourself extra 1-2 days or even more than what you’d normally do in college. For me it still comes down to studying the day before for an exam except for the big ones like head and neck and path. Those definitely need 2-3 days of studying.
don’t worry too much just come into dental school with a flexible mindset and don’t stick to one method (rewriting everything down)if itits not giving you results and especially If you feel it’s not most efficient
It's same as undergrad for me - I just write notes and basically keep memorizing / re-writing my notes in different ways.
I guess I would describe D1 as undergrad finals week, except every week. You know that feeling during finals when every minute of studying was super focused, and you were getting stuff done done? That's the type of study vibe I think you need to be in every minute you studying in D1 if you want to do well.

I struggled a lot with my hand skills D1, so I made some B+ / B in those courses (at my school 90-92 was a B+ before they changed it). But as a D2 I been making As in most practicals (and just finished operative 2 with an A ). So I would say practice, try your best, and don't get discouraged if your skills don't improve right away. I remember thinking I was going to be a bad dentist etc, everytime I did bad on a practical, but I can tell I am getting better (not perfect yet, but better!).

Staying positive while studying is the best advice I have :)
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You will figure it out your first two months of dental school. I used to study 2 days before the exam in undergrad. My first dental school exam I got a C on doing that lol. So ever since I have been reviewing a little bit each day after class and I have been doing really well ever since and have found more free time that way and the stuff sticks better
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I would personally try to go over the ppt the profs posted over as much times as possible before an exam. Sometimes even weeks in advance I was never of a crammer so I didn't like trying to study everything a couple of days before an exam. When I usually study the ppt I would make note of any slides that I thought were important and make up questions myself to test myself. I would also memorize any small facts that were on the slides as my school likes asking random facts lmao. I would also do any practice questions that were posted by the prof or anything online to test my knowledge and figure out my weaknesses. I also started writing out my notes in first year but found by 2nd year the material was way too dense to continue to do.
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Everyone is different. There is no "proper" way to study for dental school. Although you mention that you write your notes, that's an extremely time intensive process that you may or may not have in your dental school experience. You have to know yourself and the type of learner you are. Are you the crammer or slow and steady type? Are your school exams/tests going to be weekly, or midterm/finals only? Are these tests cumulative, by section, MC/essay, etc...? There's no easy answer, because every school is different, but once you know what you're up against, you can tailor your study strategy. If you're a crammer, stick to cramming. If you're the slow and steady type (which I am not), then what I've observed works best for those type appear to be daily flash cards, powerpoint reviews, and sitting in the library/having a study group/support system.
I came into dental school loving to handwrite notes but realized that I needed to make some changes to my study habits due to the volume of information. Flipping through powerpoints multiple times doesn’t work as well for me but I’m super impressed by those who can memorize like this! Some professors will only test on information that they presented on the powerpoint slides, others will test on info they mention in class, and a few will include book content. Lastly, some will require blatant memorization. I use different techniques to study for each of these! It’s really up to you to figure out which professor does which.

I convert all powerpoints to PDFs then open them with the Drawboard Windows app. I have a Surface Pro so I use a combination of typing text boxes on the PDF (in classes with lots of info) to handwriting notes on slides with the Surface pen (in classes where I want to annotate images or more basic notes). A lot of my classmates used iPads and Apple pencils. In all honesty, I still like making typed outlines to be used as study guides which I then highlight as needed for certain classes. Sometimes it is easier for me to remember where something is in a packet than where it was on a slide - maybe related to the tangible 3D representation of printed notes! For classes where I need to memorize a bunch of content, I use Quizlet (at one point I paid for the upgrade so that I could post images on it).

There is no perfect way to study but the one tip I have is that you need to find a way to make the content your own. Using other people’s notes or study guides only works if you are diligent about going through the material multiple times. Whenever I’m tired in class, I audio record it (with permission) or watch the video recordings later. I forget things pretty quickly within a week or so and don’t have tons of time for spaced repetition studying. Instead, I take good notes the day the professor teaches it or I take good notes when I listen to the recording/video a few days later —> start casually reviewing the material or make Quizlets or studyguides about 7-10 days before the test just to get all my notes in one location —> begin hardcore studying those anywhere from 1-5 days before the actual exam. Upperclassmen at your dental school will be the best resources for how to study for classes!

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Thank you everyone for your replies! I really appreciate it
To add to this thread, I believe active recall is the most effective way of studying. It allows you to develop the type of understanding you will need on exam day better than simply rewriting or reading alone. The cool thing about active recall is that you can use it in addition to any other study style you use. At this point in time when I study, I mostly just read over slides, normally about about 3 or 4 at a time, then I stop and try to actively recall the information on the previous slides. If I don't remember something, I simply go back and glance at it. I do this for each pass through of the material. For classes with more volume, I like to go through each powerpoint at least 4 times using active recall, I know I am very well prepared when I can recall most of the slides purely from memory or from the title alone. Hope this helps.
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