CaptainJackSparrow83

2+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2017
225
172
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Medical Student
Hey folks, how do you memorize for classes and boards vice versa.

Im trying to figure out if im genuinely just stupid but over time learning/cramming for each midterm is always hell. I somehow manage to do it and when the midterm is over I give a sigh of relief and kind of let the knowledge leak out of my brain slowly.
When im in exam mode Im testing myself while my eyes are closed in bed, Im testing myself in the shower, while cooking etc etc.
Im wondering if just my brain sucks, because idk how Im going to remember all this minuta detail for boards at the end of year 2.
 

bashwell

5+ Year Member
Mar 20, 2013
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Hey folks, how do you memorize for classes and boards vice versa.

Im trying to figure out if im genuinely just stupid but over time learning/cramming for each midterm is always hell. I somehow manage to do it and when the midterm is over I give a sigh of relief and kind of let the knowledge leak out of my brain slowly.
When im in exam mode Im testing myself while my eyes are closed in bed, Im testing myself in the shower, while cooking etc etc.
Im wondering if just my brain sucks, because idk how Im going to remember all this minuta detail for boards at the end of year 2.
1) If you're in med school, and you are, you're not stupid, nor does your brain suck! Most med students are at least above average intelligence. So please stop denigrating yourself. Rather, be confident that you are smart enough to learn what's in medicine. The material in medicine really isn't all that difficult to learn and master. And the majority of people who fail med school in the US aren't dumb, but usually it's because they're lazy or have personal or family issues that have gotten in the way of their studies.

2) Cramming in med school works in the short-term like for an exam the next week, but it doesn't work for long-term retention. But you want long-term retention if you want to do well on Step 1.

3) There are several methods to study and remember information long-term. I'll list a few that worked for me, but I'm sure there are many others.

First, the general idea is active learning, not passive learning. Reading and highlighting books or notes, or watching videos or recorded lectures, is necessary, but doing so doesn't tell you if you've actually learned the content or if you're just passively absorbing everything without actually learning anything (even though it might feel like you're learning so much). That's why you should also test yourself to see if you've actually learned what you needed to learn after reading or watching something.

That brings me to the second point. Focus on active learning through answering questions in popular qbanks. UWorld is the gold standard. But there's also USMLE-Rx, Kaplan, Becker, and many other companies which have their own qbanks. The NBMEs when it comes to Step 1 too.

Third, focus on active learning by teaching the material to someone else or even just yourself, as if you are teaching the material to a class. If you try to teach something, it helps you know how well you've learned the material.

Fourth, spaced repetition through the regular use of flashcards. Review some flashcards each day from what you learned in the previous day(s). Companies like Anki, Osmosis, and Firecracker make apps where you can make your own flashcards. However, it's probably easier to just use Brosencephalon (or maybe Zanki now) rather than to make your own. Bros is tried and true but starting to get dated, while Zanki is brand new and more up-to-date but largely untried in terms of how well it works for crushing Step 1.

Finally, interleaving, not blocking. Blocking is studying a single subject for 8 hours, whereas interleaving is studying multiple subjects for the same 8 hours. For example, instead of just studying cardiac anatomy for 8 hours, study cardiac anatomy for 1-2 hours, then cardiac physiology for 1-2 hours, then cardiac pathology for 1-2 hours, then cardiac pharmacology for 1-2 hours, and so on. The major risk of interleaving is that your mind becomes too distracted or disorganized by constantly changing subjects. That's true if you keep changing every 15 minutes, for example, but many experts in education argue studying a subject for 1-2 hours is the point at which it won't become distracting but prove beneficial. However, interleaving material is counterintuitive for many people, and many people even think interleaving is actually a lot more difficult than blocking. But most experts in education argue interleaving material is better for long-term retention than studying material in blocks. Also, just because something is difficult doesn't mean you're not learning. In fact, if something is too easy for you, then it's more likely you're not learning.​

These are just some ideas. I'm sure there are many others (e.g., making memory associations through visual images and auditory stories such as in Sketchy or Picmonic). Just use the methods that work for you, but ignore the methods that don't work for you. Hope it helps, and good luck!
 
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LyMed

2+ Year Member
May 4, 2017
373
254
Status
Medical Student
How much are you understanding vs memorizing? Do you understand the pathophysiology?
 
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Goro

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Jun 10, 2010
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Hey folks, how do you memorize for classes and boards vice versa.

Im trying to figure out if im genuinely just stupid but over time learning/cramming for each midterm is always hell. I somehow manage to do it and when the midterm is over I give a sigh of relief and kind of let the knowledge leak out of my brain slowly.
When im in exam mode Im testing myself while my eyes are closed in bed, Im testing myself in the shower, while cooking etc etc.
Im wondering if just my brain sucks, because idk how Im going to remember all this minuta detail for boards at the end of year 2.
Repetition and repeated assessment drives learning.

You'll be surprised at how much you can remember.

Do as many practice questions you can get your hands on. And read this:
Goro's Guide to Success in Medical School (2017 edition)
 
OP
CaptainJackSparrow83

CaptainJackSparrow83

2+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2017
225
172
Status
Medical Student
How much are you understanding vs memorizing? Do you understand the pathophysiology?
I am an engineering major so if I can understand something I will definitely try to understand it. It may be why I am doing so well in biochemistry/histology and poorly in anatomy, just because there are so many arteries and nerves (right pancreatic gastro duodenal left, right colic, left colic), sure I can understand its got something to do with the organs in the gut but they supply multiple organs and memorizing the nits and details is killer for me. What kills me even more are the questions are assembled to really test if you know the material in and out (Which of the following doesnt supply the greater curvature of the stomach? Is it A, B, C, or AB, ABC, or none of the above), and thats where im dying.

The main concern for this post was, even if I manage to memorize it now, I feel I will forget it over time, by the time it comes to boards, idk how ill remember 2 years of it.
 
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