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Not seeing a future in Notecards

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WorldsAway

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I spent most of my undergrad reading my required text then making mountains of notecards. It was a good method of memorizing things as I was able to remove cards I knew and condense those I didn't allowing me to focus on what I didn't know. Something tells me if I try this in medschool not only will I waist tons of time, I couldn't possibly make note cards that would cover all the material. Besides that, I think storing all those cards would require me to rent out one of those storage rooms. +pity+

Does anyone have a solution to this predicament? I've been looking for program that would allow me to make note cards on my computer and use it the way I was with physical note cards, but instead of writing, I can copy and paste from lecture notes.

Any suggestions oh experienced ones?:bow:
 

OncoCaP

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I spent most of my undergrad reading my required text then making mountains of notecards. It was a good method of memorizing things as I was able to remove cards I knew and condense those I didn't allowing me to focus on what I didn't know. Something tells me if I try this in medschool not only will I waist tons of time, I couldn't possibly make note cards that would cover all the material. Besides that, I think storing all those cards would require me to rent out one of those storage rooms. +pity+

Does anyone have a solution to this predicament? I've been looking for program that would allow me to make note cards on my computer and use it the way I was with physical note cards, but instead of writing, I can copy and paste from lecture notes.

Any suggestions oh experienced ones?:bow:

You can make electronic notecards obviously. There are several programs out there; I use RecallPlus. I make my notecards during class (they are my notes). Lots of people make outlines (word) and tables (excel) and memorize them or make their "notecards" in PowerPoint.
 

ZagDoc

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iFlash for Mac is awesome. It's what I use.
 

HEADintheCLOUDS

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I just use my brain to memorize what I read from the book/ lecture notes. I never understood how people made cards to use to study from. It seems like a big waste of t:thumbup:me to me! Just read it and remember it from the original source.
 

ZagDoc

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I just use my brain to memorize what I read from the book/ lecture notes. I never understood how people made cards to use to study from. It seems like a big waste of t:thumbup:me to me! Just read it and remember it from the original source.

Oh my god! Someone uses their brain in medical school?

Lies.
 

Occams Razor

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I also use the electronic flashcards. i make them during lecture, so i catch the key terms. i make the old-fashioned paper ones for times when i know i'll be away from the computer for extended periods of time (waiting in line, eating in restaurants, etc), but i usually reserve harder concepts for those.
 

lord_jeebus

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I swear by Supermemo.

The advantage is that it has an algorithm that learns your learning curve and develops daily review sets so that you don't waste your time covering stuff you know well or miss old cards that you've forgotten about.
 

coffeebythelake

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I spent most of my undergrad reading my required text then making mountains of notecards. It was a good method of memorizing things as I was able to remove cards I knew and condense those I didn't allowing me to focus on what I didn't know. Something tells me if I try this in medschool not only will I waist tons of time, I couldn't possibly make note cards that would cover all the material. Besides that, I think storing all those cards would require me to rent out one of those storage rooms. +pity+

Does anyone have a solution to this predicament? I've been looking for program that would allow me to make note cards on my computer and use it the way I was with physical note cards, but instead of writing, I can copy and paste from lecture notes.

Any suggestions oh experienced ones?:bow:

Its not a *waist* of time if you don't get carried away trying to pretty up the note cards. I have a stack of cards that I create when I study, and that I refer back to near exam time.
 

mTOR

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that's funny.. I actually didn't discover note cards until this semester (2nd semester of my 1st year). Never used them in ugrad at all; thought they were a huge waste of time then. I've now discovered half the memorization occurs just by the process of making them in the first place.
 

coffeebythelake

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that's funny.. I actually didn't discover note cards until this semester (2nd semester of my 1st year). Never used them in ugrad at all; thought they were a huge waste of time then. I've now discovered half the memorization occurs just by the process of making them in the first place.

Yeah, same experience here. I never used note cards in undergrad and I truly regret it.
 

dizzyorange

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I swear by Supermemo.

The advantage is that it has an algorithm that learns your learning curve and develops daily review sets so that you don't waste your time covering stuff you know well or miss old cards that you've forgotten about.

Which program do you use?
 

ramseszerg

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Can you guys explain how you use notecards in more detail? What exactly do you put on them? Can it be used for any type of material or is it limited to terminology/vocabulary or any other types of material? I'm in undergrad and I've never used notecards either. I memorize stuff by writing it repeatedly on sheets of paper and vocalizing it as I go. Gets very frustrating for subjects like anatomy because there is so much stuff.
 

Occams Razor

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i put the basic concepts that i need to memorize. for anatomy, i wrote down origin, insertion, action, and hints on location

when i studied them, i would ask a classmate or relative to help. they would read the title and ask for the origin, for example. if i recited it correctly, it went in one pile; if incorrect, the other pile. the incorrect ones we would study over again.

if i study alone, i read the title, then recite all the facts i know about it, then flip it over and see if i was correct.

i like to draw pictures on flashcards as well, helps to cement the information.

electronic flashcards i use strictly for terminology.
 

coffeebythelake

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Can you guys explain how you use notecards in more detail? What exactly do you put on them? Can it be used for any type of material or is it limited to terminology/vocabulary or any other types of material? I'm in undergrad and I've never used notecards either. I memorize stuff by writing it repeatedly on sheets of paper and vocalizing it as I go. Gets very frustrating for subjects like anatomy because there is so much stuff.

Several different ways you can use them:

1. I like to condense each lecture to 5-10 notecards with lots of drawings and highlighting, and then further summarize onto a single notecard with just key words and terminology. This makes it useful to test myself when I prepare for exams.

2. Other people like to put questions on their notecards with the corresponding answer or explanations on the reverse side.
 

ZagDoc

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Can you guys explain how you use notecards in more detail? What exactly do you put on them? Can it be used for any type of material or is it limited to terminology/vocabulary or any other types of material? I'm in undergrad and I've never used notecards either. I memorize stuff by writing it repeatedly on sheets of paper and vocalizing it as I go. Gets very frustrating for subjects like anatomy because there is so much stuff.

For most of our lectures we're given "learning objectives" in the beginning. I try to condense each objective into one notecard concerning the general concept and a couple more testing specific facts. It's a good way to make sure little details don't escape my attention.

And yes, for pharm, each card to test everything I need to know about the drug for each block, and for anatomy, origin/insertion/innervation/action for each muscle.
 

Blesbok

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I use winflash educator to make mine. What I do is read everything and type out summaries in microsoft onenote. Then I use that to make flashcards for learning the small details such as terminology.


Also, making flashcards for pharm is the only way to go. That and mnemonics.
 

notdeadyet

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I use flashcards for pretty much everything. I've tried the electronic versions and don't like them. They're fine for practicing, but I've found that a lot of my retention is coming from the writing of the flashcards. Typing them out doesn't seem to have the same impact, but YMMV.
 
I

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When I made flash cards during my first semester I sometimes didn't have time to study them. I did make some good ones that helped in Biochem. I found that having an excel spreadsheet is wonderful for micro.
 

MDpride

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When I made flash cards during my first semester I sometimes didn't have time to study them. I did make some good ones that helped in Biochem. I found that having an excel spreadsheet is wonderful for micro.

how do you use?
 

SocialistMD

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Can you guys explain how you use notecards in more detail? What exactly do you put on them? Can it be used for any type of material or is it limited to terminology/vocabulary or any other types of material? I'm in undergrad and I've never used notecards either. I memorize stuff by writing it repeatedly on sheets of paper and vocalizing it as I go. Gets very frustrating for subjects like anatomy because there is so much stuff.

I used them in anatomy. One side would have a structure and the other would have all relating structures (i.e. a muscle on one side, its innervation, vascular supply, origin and insertion on the other). I also used them in biochemistry to memorize the function of enzymes/location in cell cycles, etc...
I think actually sitting down and making the note cards was more helpful than using them.
 

SnowTown

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I didn't make note cards in undergrad because my major was pretty much understand certain equations and laws, copy said equations and laws to a formula sheet, and use the formula sheet on exams.

I didn't make flash cards for my first exam in med school... did poorly. Made flash cards the second time around, boom, ~25% improvement (ok, I studied more too, but still...).

Year 1 is about over for me and the cards I made is around 12 inches stacked... they'll probably fit in a shoe box nicely with room to spare.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that note/flashcards can still be pretty useful in med school
 

blz

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Seriously, one skill you have to learn in medical school is the how to just read something and learn it. You have to wean yourself from note taking of any form esp note cards. My grades shot up once I stopped writing stuff down (usually avgd 90+%). The people who "study all the time and still only end up getting average" are that way because they waste about 3/4 of their studying taking notes and rewriting the book.

This is also a skill you better have for third year.
 

WorldsAway

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So what you are saying is that you memorize everything the first time you read it or hear it? And if you found taking notes a waist of time... what did you do to learn all the information?
 

ZagDoc

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Seriously, one skill you have to learn in medical school is the how to just read something and learn it. You have to wean yourself from note taking of any form esp note cards. My grades shot up once I stopped writing stuff down (usually avgd 90+%). The people who "study all the time and still only end up getting average" are that way because they waste about 3/4 of their studying taking notes and rewriting the book.

This is also a skill you better have for third year.

Psssh yeah, obviously photographic memory is solely a byproduct of willpower. There is no room in medicine for people who lack willpower.

What you say flys in face of countless years of neuroscience and learning research. Nerve plasticity and brain rearrangement are byproducts of repetition of nerve firing. Granted, skill can be gained in memory retention, I don't think any medical student would argue their retention rates are drastically higher at graduation than the first day of first year, but this is caused by years of mental taxation and adaptation, not a decision to suddenly dump all the tactics that got you to where you are.
 

Blesbok

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Seriously, one skill you have to learn in medical school is the how to just read something and learn it. You have to wean yourself from note taking of any form esp note cards. My grades shot up once I stopped writing stuff down (usually avgd 90+%). The people who "study all the time and still only end up getting average" are that way because they waste about 3/4 of their studying taking notes and rewriting the book.

This is also a skill you better have for third year.
This is obviously where the see one, do one, teach one concept came from. :rolleyes:
 

mlw47

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Does anyone know of a site where I can get free iFlash decks? Flashcardexhange.com requires a paid membership.
 

GreenShirt

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I'll throw in another vote for CueCard, it's free and has fairly good options (sometimes I get annoyed that I don't have more control over the formatting).

One thing I learned in medical school is that I didn't have time to make outlines, notes, and flashcards like in UG. However, I think most of those methods are time fillers that put out off the real task of understanding the material until later anyway. In a way one of the above posters is right, you really just have to try to understand it ask you read it. I keep a wipe off board next to the computer as I study and try to write down concepts as I learn them or just go through the objectives afterwards in my head to make sure I can answer them. Although, for things like pharm or anatomy they can still come in handy.
 

Mr. Freeze

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Does anyone know of a site where I can get free iFlash decks? Flashcardexhange.com requires a paid membership.

If you have the registered version you should be able to access the deck library through Loopware.
 
4

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how do you use?
I used Excel by making two columns - the question column and the answer column. You can change the font color to white in order to blank out the answer column, and then you can just click on an individual cell and its contents will appear in the Formula bar (just under the toolbars). Worked great for memorizing lists and such.

Only class in my first two years of med school that I used flashcards for was pharmacology for the antibacterials. Some guys I know used computer programs and pasted in pictures of histology, anatomy, etc., and they were really helpful the few times I studied with them.
 

notdeadyet

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CueCards is great for simple, non-formatted text, but I found it a pain in the a$$ for anything complicated.

I've been using VTrain, which is a lifesaver. I have powerpoint running on one side and VTrain in the other. I can drag and drop images from powerpoint into the questions field and then type in (or copy a bulleted list) into the answer field. This is great for Path, Histo, etc.

It has a tracking mechanism where you can move questions up or down boxes depending on whether you're getting it right oor not.

Robust app. I believe it's free to try and $30-40 to buy. Best thing I could find.
 

Thundrstorm

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I, too, relied on notecards in college. Rewriting helped me, as did the review. I tried to make notecards for my first unit in med school (biochem) and not only did I have about a million of them at the end of the month, there was no time to review them. So, I tossed that out and tried something new. I repeated that process several times, and now I have a system (that includes notecards) that works for me.

I started making notecards again during 2nd year because while they don't work so great for concepts, they are great for memorizing pathology. I make flashcards for key path findings and lab values, and make time to review them 2 or 3 times before the exam, and this helps me to memorize (not my forte). Now that I am studying for Step 1, I am very glad to have pre-made flashcards. The key is to keep them concise. So, I might have a notecard that says "testicular CA >50y/o" and the back says "lymphoma" Takes 5 seconds to make, and is a key concept that I will remember once I review my stack of cards a few times. I have found that the key is to review my growing stack of cards as the unit progresses so that I've seen them all several times by test day.

I do not find premade flashcards as helpful (except for anatomy) because making the cards themselves forces me to ID the key info and compress it. I also cannot learn simply from reading or simply from listening in lecture. Both are too passive for me. I envy the people who can read a chapter in Robbins and remember it all. That is not me. You have to work with your learning style.

For more complex topics, I write myself integrative questions (on one half of a page) and write the answer on the other, and then go back to quiz myself. This was a tip from my advisor, and has worked great for me.
 

NRAI2001

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I think note cards are less useful in med school. They encourage random memorization rather than actual understanding. I would rather just make outline sheets or summaries of systems/mechanisms that I thought especially interesting, important, or difficult to grasp.

I would then study outlines and then start hitting pratice questions rather than just cycling through note cards for hours...:thumbup:
 

notdeadyet

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I think note cards are less useful in med school. They encourage random memorization rather than actual understanding. I would rather just make outline sheets or summaries of systems/mechanisms that I thought especially interesting, important, or difficult to grasp.
I disagree. I know folks swear by the outline system. I'll make them from time to time, but I usually end up doing the same thing with flashcards. You get the info synthesis from summarizing and sketching ideas out with the added benefit of being able to drill later.

And while we poo-poo "memorization" as if it's a bad word, that's a hell of a lot of med school. I don't find the concepts too hard to handle; what I find challenging is trying to memorize the mechanisms, effects, contraindications of 30 drugs over the course of a night. And that's where flashcards are hard to beat.

The one downside with flashcards is the time commitment. But my thinking is that if you write them well, you're helping yourself out with board prep.
 

ZagDoc

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I think note cards are less useful in med school. They encourage random memorization rather than actual understanding. I would rather just make outline sheets or summaries of systems/mechanisms that I thought especially interesting, important, or difficult to grasp.

I would then study outlines and then start hitting pratice questions rather than just cycling through note cards for hours...:thumbup:

Wait until you actually start medical school. The "understanding" part is the easy part. But you can't "understand" the 100 drugs you need to know whose names have no correlation to what they do and what drug class they belong to or the 200 pathogens you need to know each with its own unique virulence factors, life cycles, and treatment strategies.

I think people run into problems with note cards when they try to do too much with them. Note cards aren't going to help you learn the Frank-Starling mechanism or how adaptive immunity it induced and regulated or what happens physiologically during sepsis. But note cards are excellent at conditioning the brain to connect two individual concepts or words though repetition. You can "understand" the crap out of diuretics, but until you are able to connect that understanding to the words "furosemide", "spironolactone", "hydrochlorothiazide" and "mannitol" your understanding doesn't really help your knowledge bank much.
 

MeowMix

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here you see the essential dilemma of med school studying: what works great for the person next to you, is not ideal for you.

I also never used note cards during undergrad, struggled in the first half of MS1, did a lot better once I accepted that conceptual understanding was irrelevant to exam grades and memorization was the key. I still hate that I had to do this in order to pass. My friends and I threw out huge bins full of note cards at the end of med school. Making the card is really the important piece, however it works for you. I had to do them manually; computer cards were just too remote. The copy and paste from notes is not ideal, because really you need to read, understand, rephrase in order to process the information.

If you are really lucky, you will be one of those people who can read, understand, and remember. If you are not, you will have to copy, think, write, rewrite, etc. Do not try to squeeze yourself into someone else's perfect technique.
 

NRAI2001

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Wait until you actually start medical school. The "understanding" part is the easy part. But you can't "understand" the 100 drugs you need to know whose names have no correlation to what they do and what drug class they belong to or the 200 pathogens you need to know each with its own unique virulence factors, life cycles, and treatment strategies.

I think people run into problems with note cards when they try to do too much with them. Note cards aren't going to help you learn the Frank-Starling mechanism or how adaptive immunity it induced and regulated or what happens physiologically during sepsis. But note cards are excellent at conditioning the brain to connect two individual concepts or words though repetition. You can "understand" the crap out of diuretics, but until you are able to connect that understanding to the words "furosemide", "spironolactone", "hydrochlorothiazide" and "mannitol" your understanding doesn't really help your knowledge bank much.

Very good points.. I think flashcards would be very helpful in pharm and perhaps path (though I would still aim for understanding first then try to develop associations/conditioning).

When it comes to courses like physio, anatomy, biochem, embryo...etc that you take during first year (as is the position of the OP) they are of lesser value IMHO. In these courses you should aim for understanding. I think that you are definitely correct when you say that you shouldnt aim to do everything with the note cards and this is why I think they actually detract from your courses. After a while you just start to jote every little thing onto a note card (I know people who do this) with out aiming to understand it. I would favor making an outline for yourself with main ideas and then hitting practice questions (old exams, BRS, UMICH, text book Qs...etc). Then going back to go over notes/books to reinforce ideas that come up often in the questions. Often times after going through the questions you go back and look at the topics with a different prespective.
 
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