run91

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So, I had a really really hard time in physiology because the questions were very conceptual to me. When I was studying for physio, I would feel like I was understanding the topic and would feel really confident with the material. But as soon as I would do questions, it would feel like some of the correct answers were coming out of nowhere and were complete BS, which they obviously are not.

I have tried to really think about what I am studying and approach it from different angles, rather than just memorize it. But it never seems to work. I would spend hours talking something out with myself to make sure I am really understanding it. But I would still be completely blindsided by some of the questions. I fear that I will have the same problems with Step 1 and being a doctor in general if I don't learn how to think conceptually.

I am asking if any of you were like me and how you were able to teach yourself to think conceptually? Do you have any concrete advice or step by step plan or something on how you learned to do it? Talking it out, drawing it out, group studying or looking at other resources are not helping me at all. I think it might have to do with how I approach the material, but I don't know how to change that. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

OnePunchBiopsy

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The way I learn stuff conceptually is doing TONS of practice questions, figuring out WHY I chose the incorrect answer, and then understanding why the correct answer is true conceptually (using notes/slides/textbook).

Practice questions will become your friend when you get into med school. As you progress from first year-third year you get less time to study due to clinical obligations. Slowly your study time will be eaten up and you will get the most study "bang for your buck" by doing Qbanks.
 

Goro

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Go visit your school's learning or education center. They'll help you.


So, I had a really really hard time in physiology because the questions were very conceptual to me. When I was studying for physio, I would feel like I was understanding the topic and would feel really confident with the material. But as soon as I would do questions, it would feel like some of the correct answers were coming out of nowhere and were complete BS, which they obviously are not.

I have tried to really think about what I am studying and approach it from different angles, rather than just memorize it. But it never seems to work. I would spend hours talking something out with myself to make sure I am really understanding it. But I would still be completely blindsided by some of the questions. I fear that I will have the same problems with Step 1 and being a doctor in general if I don't learn how to think conceptually.

I am asking if any of you were like me and how you were able to teach yourself to think conceptually? Do you have any concrete advice or step by step plan or something on how you learned to do it? Talking it out, drawing it out, group studying or looking at other resources are not helping me at all. I think it might have to do with how I approach the material, but I don't know how to change that. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 
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cbrons

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So, I had a really really hard time in physiology because the questions were very conceptual to me. When I was studying for physio, I would feel like I was understanding the topic and would feel really confident with the material. But as soon as I would do questions, it would feel like some of the correct answers were coming out of nowhere and were complete BS, which they obviously are not.

I have tried to really think about what I am studying and approach it from different angles, rather than just memorize it. But it never seems to work. I would spend hours talking something out with myself to make sure I am really understanding it. But I would still be completely blindsided by some of the questions. I fear that I will have the same problems with Step 1 and being a doctor in general if I don't learn how to think conceptually.

I am asking if any of you were like me and how you were able to teach yourself to think conceptually? Do you have any concrete advice or step by step plan or something on how you learned to do it? Talking it out, drawing it out, group studying or looking at other resources are not helping me at all. I think it might have to do with how I approach the material, but I don't know how to change that. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Don't simply memorize.

Drawing concept maps is one good strategy.

Example from something im re-studying right now in my free time =


upload_2016-8-3_19-24-11.png
 

Syncrohnize

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So, I had a really really hard time in physiology because the questions were very conceptual to me. When I was studying for physio, I would feel like I was understanding the topic and would feel really confident with the material. But as soon as I would do questions, it would feel like some of the correct answers were coming out of nowhere and were complete BS, which they obviously are not.

I have tried to really think about what I am studying and approach it from different angles, rather than just memorize it. But it never seems to work. I would spend hours talking something out with myself to make sure I am really understanding it. But I would still be completely blindsided by some of the questions. I fear that I will have the same problems with Step 1 and being a doctor in general if I don't learn how to think conceptually.

I am asking if any of you were like me and how you were able to teach yourself to think conceptually? Do you have any concrete advice or step by step plan or something on how you learned to do it? Talking it out, drawing it out, group studying or looking at other resources are not helping me at all. I think it might have to do with how I approach the material, but I don't know how to change that. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

There's a chance you may be thinking too conceptually. Medicine is not really that conceptual and I feel my greatest struggle in classes is trying to hard to make the concepts work when I should be memorizing.


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Taddy Mason

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There's a chance you may be thinking too conceptually. Medicine is not really that conceptual and I feel my greatest struggle in classes is trying to hard to make the concepts work when I should be memorizing.


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Being able to think conceptually allows you to reason your way through problems, especially if its something you might not being directly familiar with (e.g., if presented with a pathology you haven't encountered before you'll be better able to reason and explain why certain Sx occur if you have a solid understanding of the underlying physiology, or why certain AEs occur with certain drugs given their MOA). Its much easier to learn, integrate, and retain info if you take a conceptual approach v. a primarily memorization one, and a key difference in the approach to learning that I've noticed between students who end-up requiring tutoring v. those who don't and students at the bottom of the class v. those towards the top. @OnePunchBiopsy 's recommendation was how I encouraged students to adjust their study style when I tutored 1st year students. As long as they stuck with it and actually took the time to review and understand why they got something wrong, and even review the questions they got correct to make sure there were no flaws in their reasoning and they just happened to guess correctly, there was almost always a significant difference in their academic performance and they no longer needed tutoring.
 
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Syncrohnize

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No. Being able to think conceptually allows you to reason your way through problems, especially if its something you might not being directly familiar with (e.g., if presented with a pathology you haven't encountered before you'll be better able to reason and explain why certain Sx occur if you have a solid understanding of the underlying physiology, or why certain AEs occur with certain drugs given their MOA). Its much easier to learn, integrate, and retain info if you take a conceptual approach v. a primarily memorization one, and a key difference in the approach to learning that I've noticed between students who end-up requiring tutoring v. those who don't and students at the bottom of the class v. those towards the top.

Fair enough. I only said what I said because I don't feel the concepts we learn ought to take much effort to understand. Increased afterload? What happens? Not to hard to understand IMO. Oftentimes, especially during first year physiology, I would obsess over the formulas and try to derive them. I said this because I don't think OP will have difficulty realizing that brain damage is similar to heart damage and what not come second year because this is the kind of stuff professors repeat over and over again. Also, if you start asking why too much, it'll start to get really distracting and you'll find yourself on a wild goose hunt on PubMed. This is the basic medical science, not engineering.

If OP got through the MCAT, I don't think his or her conceptual knowledge is lacking, but rather something else is up.


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thoffen

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So, I had a really really hard time in physiology because the questions were very conceptual to me. When I was studying for physio, I would feel like I was understanding the topic and would feel really confident with the material. But as soon as I would do questions, it would feel like some of the correct answers were coming out of nowhere and were complete BS, which they obviously are not.

I have tried to really think about what I am studying and approach it from different angles, rather than just memorize it. But it never seems to work. I would spend hours talking something out with myself to make sure I am really understanding it. But I would still be completely blindsided by some of the questions. I fear that I will have the same problems with Step 1 and being a doctor in general if I don't learn how to think conceptually.

I am asking if any of you were like me and how you were able to teach yourself to think conceptually? Do you have any concrete advice or step by step plan or something on how you learned to do it? Talking it out, drawing it out, group studying or looking at other resources are not helping me at all. I think it might have to do with how I approach the material, but I don't know how to change that. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
It sounds as though you are asking for a concrete, practical method in order to learn to be more abstract.

That idea seems more than a little absurd to me.

In truth, you have provided solid evidence of your capacity in this role. You have a well-written post on the concept of your learning style. You have multiple situations in which you access an answer which you were led to without concrete methods. You made it so far in life as to get to medical school. I imagine your abstraction is quite good.

I suggest that your problem is not deficiency in abstraction but rather deficiency in trust of observations not derived from precise, measurable, repeatable methods.

Personally, I identify more with the saying "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." That leads me away from concrete methods and memorization. We need both.
 
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Jul 29, 2016
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I think it's just something you get better at as time goes on. I absolutely hated physio when I first took it because I was used to just memorizing crap, but as you learn more from your other subjects the concepts from physio start to make more sense. Strangely I felt Pharm actually helped me understand stuff better conceptually simply because I hated when I couldn't remember the properties of a drug and so I had to force myself to read up on its physiological mechanism in order to not forget it.