Med School Vs. Undergrad: How much harder is it really?

mcjay

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Please post your thoughts/experiences regarding how much harder, easier, different, or the same medical school has been compared to your undergraduate education.

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Electrophys

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From the point of view of several BME majors, I've heard that med school material is not in fact more difficult than undergrad material...many even said it was easier...BUT its the shear volume of material you go through thats daunting.
 

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I don't have any personal experience, but at a meeting with the Dean of my undergrad's medical school, she told me medical school would not be any harder than what I was accustomed to.
 

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mcjay said:
Please post your thoughts/experiences regarding how much harder, easier, different, or the same medical school has been compared to your undergraduate education.

Thanks a million; Y'all rock!!! thumbup:
Its really hard to ask this question. Everyone will give different answers. A lot of people say it was harder, but i know several people who say it's just as easy, or, sometimes, even easier than undergrad. It really depends on how hard you worked during undergrad, how smart you are, how good of a student you are (those 2 are different), and what your expectations are. For example, I expect med school to be at least 50 times harder (in terms of hours put in) than my undergrad. however, i'm only spending about 1 hour / week on academics here. But at the same time, the material will be easier, since supposedly, its just memorization.

Use caution in interpreting responses. Theres about 1000 variables.
 

AStudent

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I asked 5 doctors I shadowed this summer and they all said it was slightly EASIER since you'll be studying something you REALLY want to learn about and are motivated to do so.
 
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LevatorAni

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it may be similar and more relevant material than you cover in med school. but, the first day of class we were told to know our notes cold. we then proceeded into lectures. we sat through our lectures, took notes, and tried to figure what the salient points of each lecture were. when it came to test time, the most minute details nailed a lot of us. it's not enough to know "enough". you have to know everything they teach. from day 1 you start building a knowledge base. in 2nd semester you're expected to know what was taught in 1st semester. some 2nd year students have said that they wish they had learned 1st year material more thoroughly since 2nd year builds on 1st year knowledge and details that are forgotten after a test rear their ugly heads again later.

short answer: med school is much harder than undergrad.
 
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drunk7daysaweek

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obviously med is much easier. You cant fail med school, your marks no longer count, how can it be hard? Once ur in ur set 4 life
 

AStudent

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English must have been rough for you too....

drunk7daysaweek said:
obviously med is much easier. You cant fail med school, your marks no longer count, how can it be hard? Once ur in ur set 4 life
 

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drunk7daysaweek said:
obviously med is much easier. You cant fail med school, your marks no longer count, how can it be hard? Once ur in ur set 4 life
This is true. Unless you're in the bottom 1% or so, once you gain admission to med school, you're pretty much guaranteed a future career making top 5% salary.
 

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I suspect that it is more difficult in med school primarilly due to (1) volume of material, (2) focus on more minute details rather than just the big picture understanding (which is more typical in undergrad), and (3) your classmates will have been weeded down by the adcoms to the best and brightest, so it will be harder to keep up with the jones'es.
 
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drunk7daysaweek

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basically, you can basically show up (or not show up at all) hamboned out of ye gord wearing nothin but a pair of pish stained y-fronts in class sleeping on the desk everyday and still make it out. I know a guy like that
 
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Ross434

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drunk7daysaweek said:
basically, you can basically show up (or not show up at all) hamboned out of ye gord wearing nothin but a pair of pish stained y-fronts in class sleeping on the desk everyday and still make it out. I know a guy like that
And with a name like drunk7daysaweek -- he knows! :laugh: :thumbup:
 

Law2Doc

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drunk7daysaweek said:
basically, you can basically show up (or not show up at all) hamboned out of ye gord wearing nothin but a pair of pish stained y-fronts in class sleeping on the desk everyday and still make it out. I know a guy like that
I suspect it is the very unique individual who can pull this off... :cool:
 

aumed22

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I imagine that med school will be slightly harder, if only for the increase of endurance required.
 

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This all depends on what your undergrad experience was like. If you worked full time and carried a 22 credit course load then you should make the transition well (I'm hoping). If you partied and mooched off of your parents while taking 3 classes well then you'd best grab ahold of your britches cuz it's bound to be a hell of a tough ride.
 

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I went to a tough undergrad and I can say that the material in med school is definately not more difficult. But as people have said there is a huge volume of information. Think about it this way my average test has over 40 hours of lecture material on it and I go to a school that has frequent tests (every other week). On top of that you have to know a great deal more detail (especially useless ones) than undergrad requires. It is doable though. You just have to work harder.
 

exmike

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Med school material is decidedly easier than undergrad premed material - at least compared to johns hopkins undergrad. I remember my undergrad exams would test some esoteric extrapolation of a vague concept we might have just barely covered in class.

Med school by contrast is difficult because of the "mouth to a fire hydrant" amount of information they throw at you. The material is usually straightforward. They're not trying to fool you in med school.
 

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exmike said:
Med school by contrast is difficult because of the "mouth to a fire hydrant" amount of information they throw at you. The material is usually straightforward. They're not trying to fool you in med school.
I totally agree. Although, I did go to a not-so-difficult undergrad and pretty much breezed through it; I find medical school to be pretty difficult. But echoing other posts, it's not the information that's hard, it's finding ways to remember 900 pages of material! And, at least at my school (UTHSCSA), to do this marathon for a week and a half at a time, on four or five different subjects!

I don't think it's quite fair to label medical school as harder or easier than undergrad...given the huge number of variables. I know it sucks to hear this, but you won't know until you get there and get into it. No one person is going to be able to say it's easy or hard. (I just feel like a moron when I read the previous posts that say that medical school is easy...I just took a phase exam today that kicked my butt!)
 

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Since I did a grad program where I took med school classes, its def just the volume of material that is the most difficult thing to adjust to, but the concepts are not too difficult. Def doable, but overall, you will probably end up studying more than in undergrad. Of course there are exceptions, but in general, I think this is the case.
 

AniSci

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Why I'm in this forum, I'm not sure.
BUT:
I've heard it's not any harder, really. It's actually probably easier, because it's not as "nit-picky" as figuring out how to synthesize a compound, calculate the force acting on an object, or dealing with any of the other garbage-type hoops that undergrad forces us to jump through.

But, like most others have said: the amount of material is daunting, and might make it seem a little harder just because you're worried about keeping it all straight. And you're constantly being reminding of how little time you have to do so.

I think taking it all in many small, concentrated doses will make it more manageable. Such as studying full-force for half-an-hour, taking a 5-10 minute break, then going back and studying some more. Then take a few larger breaks after larger spans of time. And (although by now you should've figured it out) knowing how you learn/remember best is helpful, and cuts down on a lot of wasted, inefficiently used time.
 
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I am not in medschool but I have asked this question to two physicians, both said med school was significantly easier. Keep in mind they worked like crazy during undergrad to be accepted into top programs
 

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Why I'm in this forum, I'm not sure.
BUT:
I've heard it's not any harder, really. It's actually probably easier, because it's not as "nit-picky" as figuring out how to synthesize a compound, calculate the force acting on an object, or dealing with any of the other garbage-type hoops that undergrad forces us to jump through.

But, like most others have said: the amount of material is daunting, and might make it seem a little harder just because you're worried about keeping it all straight. And you're constantly being reminding of how little time you have to do so.

I think taking it all in many small, concentrated doses will make it more manageable. Such as studying full-force for half-an-hour, taking a 5-10 minute break, then going back and studying some more. Then take a few larger breaks after larger spans of time. And (although by now you should've figured it out) knowing how you learn/remember best is helpful, and cuts down on a lot of wasted, inefficiently used time.
10 year necrobump.... nice
Sometimes I wonder how people get to reading threads this old... @AniSci must have been searching for something I suppose.
 

mehc012

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Sometimes I wonder how people get to reading threads this old... @AniSci must have been searching for something I suppose.
I always suspect the "Similar Threads" list at the bottom of the page. It pulls up some OLLLLLD threads all the time, and if you're not looking closely it's easy to miss the date. :shrug:
 

Glandzburg

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I always suspect the "Similar Threads" list at the bottom of the page. It pulls up some OLLLLLD threads all the time, and if you're not looking closely it's easy to miss the date. :shrug:
Ah yes, good point!
 

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I think it depends for different people. As a disclaimer, I'm not in medical school, but I'll state what I've heard about the subject. I've been told it's fast paced, and can be slightly overwhelming at first. In this sense, it is probably the same as the transition from high school into undergrad - hard at first, but you get accustomed to it and learn what works for you. I also feel like for me personally, it will likely be slightly easier, in a mental and emotional sense, to deal with. This is because of what AStudent said - I don't get as stressed about the classes I really want to take and actually enjoy as I do about the ones I don't want to take. Because medicine is going to be (most of) our passion, it may become less stressful for some of us since it's what we've really been interested in the whole time. Just my perception of it.
 

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I think it depends for different people. As a disclaimer, I'm not in medical school, but I'll state what I've heard about the subject. I've been told it's fast paced, and can be slightly overwhelming at first. In this sense, it is probably the same as the transition from high school into undergrad - hard at first, but you get accustomed to it and learn what works for you. I also feel like for me personally, it will likely be slightly easier, in a mental and emotional sense, to deal with. This is because of what AStudent said - I don't get as stressed about the classes I really want to take and actually enjoy as I do about the ones I don't want to take. Because medicine is going to be (most of) our passion, it may become less stressful for some of us since it's what we've really been interested in the whole time. Just my perception of it.
Unfortunately, the pre-clinical courses are not "medicine," and you will quickly find out that a good chunk of the material will have little to no relevance to day-to-day medicine.
 
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UNMedGa

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Unfortunately, the pre-clinical courses are not "medicine," and you will quickly find out that a good chunk of the material will have little to no relevance to day-to-day medicine.
Yeah, I didn't word that well. A lot of it's just biology stuff, plus social/ethics courses at some places IIRC, but I do still enjoy that.
 
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NickNaylor

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Yeah, I didn't word that well. A lot of it's just biology stuff, plus social/ethics courses at some places IIRC, but I do still enjoy that.
I, too, liked that kind of stuff back in undergrad. The pre-clinical courses beat any interest in the material out of me and it slowly became a grind. Hopefully that won't happen to you. But it did seem to happen to a good number of my colleagues.
 

UNMedGa

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I, too, liked that kind of stuff back in undergrad. The pre-clinical courses beat any interest in the material out of me and it slowly became a grind. Hopefully that won't happen to you. But it did seem to happen to a good number of my colleagues.
Thanks for the advice - will definitely need to keep that in mind. It doesn't seem unreasonable that after 4-6 years of fact-based learning, medical students could start to think "let's just get to the medicine already!" I'm guessing clinical rotations are sometimes received as a welcome change then, since they deviate from the typical classroom-->exams type model?
 

NickNaylor

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Thanks for the advice - will definitely need to keep that in mind. It doesn't seem unreasonable that after 4-6 years of fact-based learning, medical students could start to think "let's just get to the medicine already!" I'm guessing clinical rotations are sometimes received as a welcome change then, since they deviate from the typical classroom-->exams type model?
Rotations bring a different set of stresses and suck, but overall I enjoyed rotations more than the pre-clinical format.
 
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I'm currently in residency, so I can tell you the difference based on experience. The material during undergrad is more difficult conceptually while the courses are generally less labor intensive. Contrastingly, medical school subject material isn't very difficult to grasp, but there is a tremendous amount of material and details to learn. You will be tested on ALL of it! Even the most minute of minutiae. That being said, I never had to stay up past 10 PM or pull any all nighters because I studied efficiently and effectively. If you are a crammer. you will probably still do fine, but you will suffer because of it. If you cram you will have to stay up late and you will have to pull all nighters. And like anything, the difficulty in medical school goes in cycles. Sometimes it's grueling and sometimes it isn't so bad.
 

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This question cannot really be answered because of differences in people's school rigor and majors.

Completing a math major at MIT is probably significantly harder than medical school. However, medical school might be harder than completing a major in [insert easiest major here] at [insert easiest college here].
 

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Don't forget that your brain chemistry changes a bit in those last years of college. You may find that the material in medical school is as manageable (if not more) because you've finally got the discipline...
 

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Hard as in "I have no idea what any of this means, or how to begin solving this problem?" Undergrad (thanks, Statistical Mechanics). Hard as in "These factoids are pretty straightforward but there's ten thousand of them?" Med school.
 
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Hard as in "I have no idea what any of this means, or how to begin solving this problem?" Undergrad (thanks, Statistical Mechanics). Hard as in "These factoids are pretty straightforward but there's ten thousand of them?" Med school.
Right, I think the ambiguity of "hard" is really what makes answering this question a challenge. Major probably matters too (for Biology I imagine medicine is more similar to the type of material learned than what I was studying in Biophysics). I personally didn't find undergrad material that hard when I actually put in the hours. The type of hours that I have to put into medical school to pass are really high, and sadly too much of it is just spent memorizing chunks of facts. It's definitely far more time-consuming than undergrad, which at the end of the day is all I really care about because I really value having control over my own time.
 

AniSci

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I always suspect the "Similar Threads" list at the bottom of the page. It pulls up some OLLLLLD threads all the time, and if you're not looking closely it's easy to miss the date. :shrug:
Ah yes, good point!
Who cares if it's old? It was one of those "similar thread" scenarios, but honestly I don't think it ever hurts to have new input. It revives the thread and gets more people (such as myself) involved in it.
 

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In my experience, intellectually med school is way easier but the volume and hours requirement is not comparable. Remember, it can be very different experience depending on your school grading/rank method, your desired class rank, goal board school, research etc. There's students in my class that have an undergrad lifestyle and those that constantly consumed.
 

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I agree with most of the responses in this thread. The volume of material in medical school is tremendous, and the level of competition is higher. The material itself is generally fairly straight forward. You do not have to be a genius to learn it; you just have to be willing to work hard.

I remember many late nights and weekends spent studying. I remember doing a ton of reading. For step I, I calculated that I read nearly 3,000 pages total, and I studied 14-16 hours a day for the last few weeks of preparation.

I also remember that the overwhelming majority of my classmates were consistently hard working whereas in undergrad, it was hit and miss.
 

NickNaylor

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This question cannot really be answered because of differences in people's school rigor and majors.

Completing a math major at MIT is probably significantly harder than medical school. However, medical school might be harder than completing a major in [insert easiest major here] at [insert easiest college here].
I'd agree with your post and @22031 Alum. We have a few people who went to undergrad at my institution, and several of them have said that their undergrad experience was significantly "harder" than the medical school experience in terms of actual critical thinking and understanding the material. Medical school is really only difficult because there's a ton of material that you are expected to know but you will never learn the entirety of.
 

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Who cares if it's old? It was one of those "similar thread" scenarios, but honestly I don't think it ever hurts to have new input. It revives the thread and gets more people (such as myself) involved in it.
I agree that people could benefit from more input, I just get a good laugh when people answer like they are replying directly to Op about his/her question from 10+ years ago. Makes me wonder if they realize they are replying to an ancient thread.
 

mehc012

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Who cares if it's old? It was one of those "similar thread" scenarios, but honestly I don't think it ever hurts to have new input. It revives the thread and gets more people (such as myself) involved in it.
In this thread, yes...this is a general question with general answers which people were willing to repeat for you despite the thread having covered those topics pretty thoroughly before. It happened to revive.
9/10 times, one or both of those things is not true.