Journal of a struggling first year student (can use all the help)

Sep 9, 2015
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Medical Student
Hello everyone

Well I finally arrived here at medical school. All the studying for the cats and undergrad paid off and I am here doing what I love. I studied from the first day and kept on top of the videos (we have a flipped classroom). I made sure to always be ready for my days and review the material. I spend the weekend before the test studying and went in hoping for the best.

After receiving my results form the first round of exams I am nothing but disappointed. I had a complete emotional breakdown yesterday and had some of the darkest thoughts I have ever had. Histology 81, Biochem 61, Anatomy written 71, Anatomy practical 70, Physiology 74. I am amongst the bottom of class. I do not want to fail out of medical school. This has been my dream and I have sacrificed everything to be here. My heart is broken and I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror.

Despite being so broken down by my results I am going to push forward and hope for the best. I set up an appointment with my dean and teachers and told them that my lack of results are not for lack of effort. They understood but told me that I need to woke harder and change my techniques or I will face dismissal come the end of the semester.

I feel that my biggest mistake was studying alone an not doing any problems. I focused on stuff that didn't even show up on the test. I spent hours studying drugs and clinical cases for physiology and not one question was on the test. After speaking to the friends I have in the study group they told me that the TA review questions (which i didn't do) kind of let them know and they focused on more important stuff.

Anyways, I am keeping this thread as a journal for the continuation of my semester. I would love to hear from people that may have been in my position and what they did to overcome this challenge. I am going to do my best to get through this semester and start fresh next semester.

Thank you.
 
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Bacchus

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You're doing all the right things (meeting with the Dean and faculty). Perhaps consider seeking Learning Resources to evaluate how you're studying.
 

W19

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I recommend doing a lot of practice questions and that what has helped me so far to be a little bit below average in my class. Not great by any means, but it's better than barely passing, which is the situation I was in during MS1.. I used the same technique you are using and it did not help me that much...
 
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TwinsFan

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Something that helps me is to start with the why. Build a basic network of the bigger processes for a class, what they are and why they're that way. Then fill in the details and try to create cross connections. Don't obsess over not knowing everything and use logic/reasoning when possible. Consider taking a look at your test taking strategy as well.
 

yanks26dmb

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Have you tried anki? For me, it really works. Make loads of cards, do them everyday, and remember everything...
 
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Oct 15, 2014
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1 - Go to lecture (or watch video lectures) - pay attention and take active notes. All the concepts you understand during lecture are concepts you won't need to struggle to learn later.

2 - Make one solid pass through the material (I'm guessing your school has powerpoint slide format lectures like mine). This is what I consider my "first pass", although it is technically a second pass after attending lecture. This is not a time to memorize everything yet. Read through everything thoroughly. This is when you should understand anything you didn't during lecture, and when you should start to construct an outline for each topic either in your head or written, whatever works for you.

3 - ACTIVE LEARNING. Your second pass through the material should NOT just be reading through the material again. You should go through the slides again, but while you are doing that you should be asking yourself questions about everything. I found that a good way to do this is to read through 2 lectures worth of material and then go back and quiz yourself on the 1st lecture that you read so that you are not simply testing your short term memory (it is easy to fool yourself into thinking you know something if you quiz yourself too soon after reading it). You will not remember a lot. But that is okay. This is a time to see where you are weak and to work on those areas. I found that in areas where I was struggling or areas that were very memorization heavy (e.g. a big chart or complicated diagram thrown into the lecture), just writing it out 3-4 times on a blank piece of paper made them stick. Create your own mnemonics to consolidate large amounts of information into small easily retrievable files in your brain. I cannot tell you how many questions I have gotten right in medical school because I was able to make a quick memory trick for them during the test.

4 - On your third pass you should be fairly comfortable with the material with just a few gaps and loose ends to tie up. Do not waste time anymore on areas you are strong in. Focus heavily on making your weak areas stronger. By this point you should be able to look at the title of a slide and know a majority of the information contained within it without looking. If you cannot, then you need to review that concept until it comes easily.

This strategy helped me stay in the top 10% of my class for my 1st year and is working so far in the 2nd year. You need to study smarter, not harder. If I just read the material 5 times over without doing anything active, I would have worked "harder", but would have retained very little. Don't be afraid to change up your strategy, I know I did multiple times throughout the year. My way may not work for you, and that is fine, but try to do something that isn't passive. Good luck.
 

Goro

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You're going through something very common. What worked for you in UG isn't going to work in med school, and now you have to find what will work.

First off, something DID work! You did nicely in Histology. Can you apply that to the other courses?

Your school should have a education center. Go make use of them STAT!!

If you have any test taking anxiety issues, get those fixed.

Study with friends.

Get good nights sleep before exams.

Try and look at the big picture first.

Don't try and memorize everything; you can't.

Go talk to your Anatomy and other profs to see what the holes are in your knowledge base. Knowing what you don't know is more important than what you do know.

Because this has been such an emotionally draining experience, go talk to your school's counselor. You can't bear this burden alone, and worrying about your academics will only make things worse.

You should be studying EVERY day, not just the weekend before the test. We're talking like 4-6 hrs/day.

Do NOT cram, either. You need to retain all this info.

Chat up your classmates who are doing well and mine them for tips.

You can do this. About 1/3rd of my OMSI class gets clobbered on the first exam block. they work it out.

Hello everyone

Well I finally arrived here at medical school. All the studying for the cats and undergrad paid off and I am here doing what I love. I studied from the first day and kept on top of the videos (we have a flipped classroom). I made sure to always be ready for my days and review the material. I spend the weekend before the test studying and went in hoping for the best.

After receiving my results form the first round of exams I am nothing but disappointed. I had a complete emotional breakdown yesterday and had some of the darkest thoughts I have ever had. Histology 81, Biochem 61, Anatomy written 71, Anatomy practical 61, Physiology 60. I am amongst the bottom of class. I do not want to fail out of medical school. This has been my dream and I have sacrificed everything to be here. My heart is broken and I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror.

Despite being so broken down by my results I am going to push forward and hope for the best. I set up an appointment with my dean and teachers and told them that my lack of results are not for lack of effort. They understood but told me that I need to woke harder and change my techniques or I will face dismissal come the end of the semester.

I feel that my biggest mistake was studying alone an not doing any problems. I focused on stuff that didn't even show up on the test. I spent hours studying drugs and clinical cases for physiology and not one question was on the test. After speaking to the friends I have in the study group they told me that the TA review questions (which i didn't do) kind of let them know and they focused on more important stuff.

Anyways, I am keeping this thread as a journal for the continuation of my semester. I would love to hear from people that may have been in my position and what they did to overcome this challenge. I am going to do my best to get through this semester and start fresh next semester.

Thank you.
 
OP
C
Sep 9, 2015
3
0
Status
Medical Student
This strategy helped me stay in the top 10% of my class for my 1st year and is working so far in the 2nd year. You need to study smarter, not harder. If I just read the material 5 times over without doing anything active, I would have worked "harder", but would have retained very little. Don't be afraid to change up your strategy, I know I did multiple times throughout the year. My way may not work for you, and that is fine, but try to do something that isn't passive. Good luck.
Thank you for your great reply. I tried this today by doing the lectures the night before and reviewing very quickly before the class and did very well on my clicker session today. I will also start doing a few problems with each set of lectures i do so i am not caught off guard by the test anymore.

You're going through something very common. What worked for you in UG isn't going to work in med school, and now you have to find what will work.

You can do this. About 1/3rd of my OMSI class gets clobbered on the first exam block. they work it out.
Thank you so much Goro, Your replies helped me so much with my application cycle and I really appreciate anything input you have. My school runs flipped classroom so we have videos that we have to watch everyday before each class. We also have mandatory attendance which unfortunately is a curse and a blessing. I get out of class at 3 usually and have 8 hours of videos to watch so it doesn't leave me with much time to do anything. I reached out to the social worker today and will meet with her next week. The biggest thing right now for me is this lack of confidence.

I am going to work hard at this and try studying with other people and doing more questions. I will report in with new progress once a week or so. In the mean time any other advice and input is welcome. Thank you again
 

Goro

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My students run their videos at something like 1.5x speed and still are able to absorb the content. Have you tried something like that?

Thank you for your great reply. I tried this today by doing the lectures the night before and reviewing very quickly before the class and did very well on my clicker session today. I will also start doing a few problems with each set of lectures i do so i am not caught off guard by the test anymore.



Thank you so much Goro, Your replies helped me so much with my application cycle and I really appreciate anything input you have. My school runs flipped classroom so we have videos that we have to watch everyday before each class. We also have mandatory attendance which unfortunately is a curse and a blessing. I get out of class at 3 usually and have 8 hours of videos to watch so it doesn't leave me with much time to do anything. I reached out to the social worker today and will meet with her next week. The biggest thing right now for me is this lack of confidence.

I am going to work hard at this and try studying with other people and doing more questions. I will report in with new progress once a week or so. In the mean time any other advice and input is welcome. Thank you again
 
OP
C
Sep 9, 2015
3
0
Status
Medical Student
My students run their videos at something like 1.5x speed and still are able to absorb the content. Have you tried something like that?
I do run them at 1.5x. Eventually i think it comes down to me studying alone and not utilizing question banks. I will improve upon them and move forward.
 

Goro

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that was something I forgot about. You can never, ever take enough practice questions. This goes into finding about what you don't know.

Ask your faculty to pimp you as well. it's one thing to be able to do pattern recognition and ruling things out on a MCQ, but it's another to be asked point blank: "What function is disrupted if I transect the hypoglossal nerve"?"

So make use of Testweapon,. USMLEWorld, COMBANK, QBank, COMSAE, etc. Your shcool should have several of these available.

Make and use flashcards as well.

If you're a tabular learner, make tables.

If you're a visual learner, make pictures

If you're conceptual, do mind maps.




I do run them at 1.5x. Eventually i think it comes down to me studying alone and not utilizing question banks. I will improve upon them and move forward.
 
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QueenJames

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Soon-to-be-med-student here.

Where do you guys get access to practice questions if all you guys use is the powerpoint lectures? Do you guys purchase the books and practice the questions from there or do you just google random quizzes and that stuff? Sorry for the dumb question, just trying to get a better feel of how I did well in the later portion of my undergrad compared to what will be a crucible that is med school! lol
 

trs88

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Soon-to-be-med-student here.

Where do you guys get access to practice questions if all you guys use is the powerpoint lectures? Do you guys purchase the books and practice the questions from there or do you just google random quizzes and that stuff? Sorry for the dumb question, just trying to get a better feel of how I did well in the later portion of my undergrad compared to what will be a crucible that is med school! lol
There's the BRS series of books, I've only used them for anatomy so far because the other classes aren't tested in a similar style. Then for anatomy, there's UMich and I've found them to be pretty helpful. But, for the other classes I haven't found any published/printed questions that fit (for my school, as a first year). However, we have a friendly bunch of students this year and we make our own questions and post them on the facebook group. There's also the fact that you join the previous years Facebook group and take advantage of their resources.
 
Feb 27, 2015
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Don't students from the year before have study questions, exams, etc to study from?
In my school we had note takers for all classes. For $200- $300 yr all the classes were transcribed. It was especially helpful when professors had accents and they were difficult to follow. After anatomy I stayed home and just picked up my daily notes. Instead of wasting 50 min in each class I could read the lectures twice in that time. I never wasted my time on study groups.
 

qqw

Feb 13, 2015
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Hang in there. its hard to adjust that first semester. i did crappy my first test in med school too. Think I got a 55% on the first anatomy test. and a 67% in another class. I had similar thoughts. I used that fear to push myself and keep myself focused and got an 85% on the next anatomy test, and ended the class with a low B in gross

Best of luck my friend :)
 

Captain DO

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Keep ya head up!! If you made it to DO school, you belong in DO school! You can do this! Just dig deep down and find your inner DO and Unleash the beast!! Tear up the next test! We've all been there! You got this!!

Here for you always.

Captain DO
 

Jinxapotato

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Hey there OP, just out of my personal experience, I found studying with a group VERY beneficial. We try to be each others' teachers and we learn while trying to teach it to others. Others will catch your mistake, and your teaching has just helped you rehearse the material in an active manner. Keep the chin up, and good luck!
 

itsogre

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1 - Go to lecture (or watch video lectures) - pay attention and take active notes. All the concepts you understand during lecture are concepts you won't need to struggle to learn later...
Thank you for posting this, it's excellent. I am applying this approach to my own studying after a horrific experience on my 1st exam.
 

FutureDO08

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Aug 9, 2015
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Hello everyone

Well I finally arrived here at medical school. All the studying for the cats and undergrad paid off and I am here doing what I love. I studied from the first day and kept on top of the videos (we have a flipped classroom). I made sure to always be ready for my days and review the material. I spend the weekend before the test studying and went in hoping for the best.

After receiving my results form the first round of exams I am nothing but disappointed. I had a complete emotional breakdown yesterday and had some of the darkest thoughts I have ever had. Histology 81, Biochem 61, Anatomy written 71, Anatomy practical 70, Physiology 74. I am amongst the bottom of class. I do not want to fail out of medical school. This has been my dream and I have sacrificed everything to be here. My heart is broken and I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror.

Despite being so broken down by my results I am going to push forward and hope for the best. I set up an appointment with my dean and teachers and told them that my lack of results are not for lack of effort. They understood but told me that I need to woke harder and change my techniques or I will face dismissal come the end of the semester.

I feel that my biggest mistake was studying alone an not doing any problems. I focused on stuff that didn't even show up on the test. I spent hours studying drugs and clinical cases for physiology and not one question was on the test. After speaking to the friends I have in the study group they told me that the TA review questions (which i didn't do) kind of let them know and they focused on more important stuff.

Anyways, I am keeping this thread as a journal for the continuation of my semester. I would love to hear from people that may have been in my position and what they did to overcome this challenge. I am going to do my best to get through this semester and start fresh next semester.

Thank you.
Hey, just wanted to bump your thread to see how your year went. Were you able to come up with some strategies that worked for you?