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Pre-Allo FAQ Series: Studying, how do you do it?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DoctorPardi, May 11, 2007.

  1. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2005
    This topic may seem silly to some, but it is very important in my opinion. Studying truly is a skill that one has to master to do well in school. As such I'd like the upperclassmen or allopathic students among us to give their advice on how they have done well. Everyone is different and sometimes people use different approaches. I would like to compile some great ideas for how to study so this can be a quality reference point for students who are not yet skilled in studying.

    Among us are some of the best students in the country, so you must have great study skills. This is a thread to discuss:
    1) How you study
    2) How often you study
    3) Specific techniques and pointers for testing well

    Additionally let's discuss how to study for particular subjects:
    1) Biology
    2) Gen Chem
    3) Physics
    4) Math
    5) Organic

    Anyone with advice on a particular topic or all topics is welcomed and encouraged to post.

    Thanks again to the community for participating! :)

    Also let me remind everyone that all of the old threads can be found in the Pre-Allo Information Thread.

    Pre-Allopathic FAQ Series:

    -Pre-Allo FAQ Series:What is more important GPA or MCAT?

    -Pre-Allo FAQ Series: Does it matter what university you graduate from?

    -Pre-Allo FAQ Series: How many schools should I apply too?

    -Pre-Allo FAQ Series: How Do I Write My Personal Statement?

    -Pre-Allo FAQ Series: Are EC's really required, and if so which ones?

    -Pre-Allo FAQ Series: What's most important in where to apply?
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  3. Funky

    Funky This space is for sale 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    Let me be the first to chime in.
    1) How you study

    It all depends on what I'm studying for. If it's a biology class I tend to just go through my notes from class and the textbook and try to understand how everything works. A lot of bio has to do with memorizing terms so I'm a memorize by repetition kind of guy. I sometimes make up my own acronym if necessary. Make sure you know it well enough to be able to recite what's going on to someone else.

    Physics and Gen Chem are different because there are a lot of problems thrown at you. The best way to deal with these three is practice. Do as many practice problems after you understand how each formula works. Know each relationship and when to use a formula. Just because you memorized formulas doesn't mean you'll be successful. It all comes down to practice.

    Math also comes down to a lot of practice. I did a lot of practice before midterms and it paid off.

    Organic on the other hand is much like bio but in some cases it's different. There will be some memorizing involved but I think it helps a lot if you understand all the principles like nucleophiles, electrophiles, why something goes E1 instead of SN1, etc. Knowing the principles will help a great deal because you wont be able to memorize every reaction so if you understand the general principle, the very least is that you can sort of take an educated guess and chances are you'll be right or at least partially right.

    2) How often?

    I am against cramming unless absolutely necessary. A few hours a day is much better than an all nighter the night before. Keep up with the readings and study a few hours a day. I did something like 2-3 hours a day and then when midterms/finals came along I studied more.

    3) A few pointers

    It's much better to be overprepared than underprepared. However, study smart. I knew what to study for and what not to. It's important to know what the professor will put on exams. However, don't be the "Is this going to be on the test" guy or girl. Please do that in office hours or after class :)
    chancemd likes this.
  4. Karina 07

    Karina 07 Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    I'll bite. Maybe partially because I want to feel like I meet that lofty description ;).

    I should preface this by saying that I am now a graduate (master's) student and so I will have to point out which helped where, because undergrad and grad studying were very different experiences for me.

    Undergrad: This was so much easier. Undergraduate studying was all geared to what the professor wanted, and they were generally quite clear on that. If the professors gave a list of possible topics for essay responses, I would prepare essays on each of them and memorize them. (I found that it is easiest for me, personally, to learn things by saying them out loud or listening to them, so sometimes I would even tape myself. I also heavily relied on cue cards.) If the professor gave a list of possible topics for math/physics-type topics, I would sit in the stacks with a sheet of paper, on which I would draw little stars, and every time I finished going over the entire topic through the textbook and my notes and practice problems from problem sets, the textbook, or past exams, I would let myself fill in one of those nice stars :). It was the only way to really motivate myself to get the work done. If the professor was more vague, I would make up study notes on the course and study those, if I had the time. I would only study before tests/exams, actually. Maybe for the week beforehand, but in every non-class, non-major-extracurricular waking moment. I participated in a LOT of extra-curriculars, but made sure to never commit myself to things unless I knew I could follow through, while still committing myself heavily in the times when I had more time. It worked very well for me.

    Grad: I am at Oxford now (oh, for undergrad I went to an Ivy school, if that matters). The system is very different. Half my degree is research, yes, but the other half is still exams and coursework. For the exams here, I can't memorize facts. They don't care about that. Even if you completely memorized all the lectures and the textbooks, you would only know about 1/5th of what is on the exam! Since there are only 8-16 sessions per course, essentially, and the courses cover very broad themes, they only introduce each topic and then expect you to do the legwork. You have to look up a couple of dozen academic papers and synthesize them and essentially write a term paper on every subject that could come up -- except even when you prepare a term paper for class, later on when you're revising for that exam it will still comprise only a partial answer so you have to expand upon it. The key to succeed in this kind of system, I believe, is time. Start preparing your notes early. And ask your professors for practice questions. Then, after you have made up your study notes based on a couple of dozen papers and your notes and the textbook and your essays and other people's essays and a couple of other dozen papers, and after you have learned these notes by heart, you can sit down with the practice questions and try to apply all this background knowledge in new ways. I practice writing two 3-hour exams each day, using old exams (which are fortunately all very available online) and practice questions from the professors kind enough to give them, plus any others I could make up. Fortunately, we are given the entire term off to study, essentially, so I have each and every day, all day, to do this work, although of course this also gives me time to run errands and I try to make time to stay relatively in shape, because this also affects how you do, I feel.

    Tips for DURING the exam:

    Perhaps the most important exam tip I can think of: Make sure to READ THE QUESTIONS THOROUGHLY. Everyone misses something in the question sometime.

    Do SPEND TIME FORMULATING YOUR ARGUMENT, if it's an essay question. If you have an hour for an essay question, spend 10 minutes without lifting your pen. Seriously. Everyone says that, and then doesn't do it. It's scary, but it's better than realizing halfway through (or while writing the conclusion!!) that your argument has a big flaw in it or is poorly structured.

    And SHOW YOUR WORK, especially for math/physics questions.

    Just my two cents. If you have any specific questions about exams at the institutions I went to, PM me. I think this kind of thing might vary a bit. Maybe not so much between U.S. places, but Oxford was totally, totally different.
  5. rcd

    rcd .2K Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    I cram 100%, but that's my style. The time crunch keeps me focused and efficient. 4.0science GPA and 3.96overall can't be wrong :laugh:.

    I do pay 100% attention in class, and I work to understand everything as it's told to me. I mean, I keep a one-track mind during lecture time. If I understand the professor and he's going too slow, I try to make mental connections between what he says and other topics in the course.

    My biggest task is figuring out what the professor thinks is important and focusing on that. I absolutely _never_ _ever_ look @ the book or do assigned readings. I haven't done assigned problems in the book since first semester freshman year. I find both the assigned problems and readings particularly _low yield_. Actually, I occasionally use the book if, when cramming, I don't understand something that the professor stressed (generally I Wikipedia it first).

    I do take every practice test my professors make available, and I re-read the lecture notes if they're posted online.

    Specific Courses:
    For Cell Bio I studied about 6-8 hours (the day before the test)
    For Orgo2 I studied more spread out and more often because I had a friend in the course (4ish hours a day for up to 2-3 days). Looking back on it, I probably needed that extra time with Orgo2 (and it would have been useful with Orgo1, which I just barely cleared the A).
  6. midn

    midn 10+ Year Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    I am a strong disbeliever of cramming because, although you may do well on tests, you'll forget that knowledge quickly (generally). Although rcd says he/she crams, he/she still pays attention in class so he/she has some understanding of the material before studying for the test.

    I am assuming this thread is geared towards undergraduates.

    The way I study varies for each class. For strongly memorization-based classes I make sure to start memorizing from day 1. This can be anywhere from an hour to two hours a day and just consists of going over notes or any specified readings. Make sure not to dwell on any material that you cannot seem to memorize since it may come to you faster later and you'll get more done if you just keep moving. Also, don't just memorize details as individual facts, but try to tie them together and really understand them. On tests, you will forget things but if you have studied sufficient context to material, you'll be able to reason and possibly come up with the correct answer. For classes that require you memorize things verbatim, context will not help. Chances are, you will have one class at the most that has you memorize things verbatim and it will be the class you learn nothing in.

    For skill-oriented classes (math, physics, etc.) practice is key. DO as many practice problems as you can that are relevant to the material and before taking a test, try redoing problems you had difficulties with before but making sure to try new problems to see if you understand the concepts.

    For hybrid memorization/skill classes (organic chemistry) just combine the past two sections logically. This does not mean spend 1-2 hours memorizing reactions, but rather spending a proportional time memorizing reactions and then applying them. Your ability to reason what reaction goes where will help you tremendously in organic.

    I really, really dislike pneumonics and discourage their use unless absolutely necessary. It is better that you learn how to reason your way to an answer than recall some completely arbitrary acronym that helps you list facts. In some cases, pneumonics are appropriate if you can find no logical way understanding the material, but your understanding of the material is probably not going to increase through the use of pneumonics.

    Doing well on tests has to do with learning how to filter material that your professor wants you to know and what he or she deems unnecessary. This means that you should try to attend your classes unless you think you've gotten a grasp of their testing style and can do well without attending. Your ability to do well on tests will have to do with how well you prioritize material when studying. Skipping sections because you absolutely believe they are not going to be on the test is not wise; you should proportion your time to material rather than doing all-or-nothing reviews (of course, if the professor explicitly said that a section is not going to be on the test, then don't study it; one of the biggest mistakes undergraduates make is completely skipping material because the professor only spent 1 minute on it in class and it ends up being a significant portion of the test).

    With all that said, remember that different studying styles apply to different people.
  7. Davjc2009

    Davjc2009 2+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Among us are some of the best students in the country, so you must have great study skills. This is a thread to discuss:

    1) How you study

    I usually often make flashcards. I make a set after each lesson. I study them for quizzes and exams.
    If applicable, I do all (not-graded) practice problems the day they are assigned.

    2) How often you study

    I don't cram, but I dont study every day either. I study the night before quizzes. And two-three days in advance for tests.

    3) Specific techniques and pointers for testing well

    Additionally let's discuss how to study for particular subjects:
    1) Biology
    I take great notes. Then, I make the flashcards for each lesson hours after the lecture.

    2) Gen Chem
    Take good notes. Practice, Practice, Practice.

    3) Physics
    N/A. Haven't taken yet.

    4) Math
    I floated through calc, no real good advice except don't go out drinking the night before an exam. Bad idea.

    5) Organic
    Make flashcards for each rxn. Know them backwards and forwards. Know the reagents like the back of your hand. And do all the practice problems.

    For all the spectroscopy, I made flashcards for every peak. Did all practice problems. After that section, I ran through the flashcards once a week to keep it fresh in my mind.
  8. armybound

    armybound future urologist. Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 1, 2007
    My grades and material retention have gone way up since I started this technique, regardless of subject:

    Start early. Read before attending class. Re-read everything starting a week before an exam. By the time of the exam, you should have read the chapters a good 3-4 times. I pay attention in class to supplement my reading, but I don't really take extensive notes (or even re-read them) or make flash cards.

    Keep it quick. I study for about 20-30 minutes (until I start getting bored) and take a quick break. I then read some more. I'll typically cover a chapter a day (which is why starting a week beforehand helps) and the couple of days before the exam I'll re-read all chapters again, this time for familiarization with bolded terms and little details. Also challenge yourself by blocking answers, words, or figures in your book and making yourself give the correct answer. Being able to generate answers leads to knowing the material better, in my opinion.

    Something else I've found really helpful this year in immunology is to have a friend who I know also knows the material well, and right before the exam we went quickly through our notes and made sure we were familiar with the major topics and what we thought would be on the exam. If I didn't understand something or just wanted a reminder, he'd tell me. This not only helped me learn it but made sure he could answer the question as well.

    As far as testing goes, I'm pretty strange when it comes to exams, I think. I finish exams extremely fast. When I read the question I get the idea of what's being asked, have it in my mind what the answer should be, and go looking for it. It shouldn't take long to find the answer because you should know the material, so go with your instinct and mark the first answer, then move on. If I think too long, I end up confusing myself and get things wrong.
  9. computerdorkdan

    computerdorkdan Cool dude 2+ Year Member

    May 15, 2007
    The correct answer is: whatever works best for you - try the things people say here and see what works best for you.

    I'm sure some people can cram and do well in classes but I believe they're few and far between.

    Personally, for most any topic, flashcards before bed and with my morning cup of C8H10N4O2 seem to work the best.
  10. CAS97209

    CAS97209 2+ Year Member

    Feb 9, 2007
    For some strange reason I don't study well during the day. I can't focus on the material and just skim through books without really understanding anything. I figured out that I study best around 1 A.M.-2 A.M., no idea why, maybe because it's a lot quieter then, who knows? But since I figured that out, I go to class, take notes, go home, sleep, wake up at 1 A.M., and go through the material. I never study for longer than 30 minutes at a time. My breaks are very short, 5 minutes at the most, during which I might get a drink, or do something else just to break the monotony. But do what makes you feel the most comfortable, and most importantly helps you learn the material best.
  11. SupernovaNights

    SupernovaNights 2+ Year Member

    May 18, 2007
    I would not trust my math studying skills, but I have made straight As in every science related course out there, for my whole life. I find for me that the best way to study is the night before. I am a proud member of the cramming society, and go on 10-12 hour studying binges (provided that I have the time). I'll often use some of the free study rooms on the campus, set camp, and invite friends over.

    Of course, everyone knows how to cram, so I'll just introduce techniques that can be incorporated into ANY studying session and things that you may want to try next time you are studying with friends.

    1) Invite a few dumber friends, and a few smarter ones. This may seem comical at first, but in actuality, it can be ENORMOUSLY helpful in learning new information and reinforcing information that you already know. Your dumb friends will always ask you to "show them how you did this." Most people blow off those questions... Don't do that! Take it as a valuable opportunity to take the information that you already know, and reinforce it by having to explain it in detail. Then, whenever you feel like you've hit a gap, turn to one of your smarter friends, and say, "Hey, what am I missing here?" It's a GREAT cycle.

    2) Use a white board or a projector. My school has projectors that are caged in in each of the study rooms, as well as white boards with dry erase markers. Both are infinitely useful. To stand at a board and work out a problem, you are exposing it to everyone else so that they can point out flaws or redundancies in your work. Likewise, everybody else's work is on display. Projectors help if you have laptop computers and have huge charts of information that are just not relayed strongly enough on a small screen

    3) Take the time to input equations into your TI or other similarly branded calculator. Before you jump on me for cheating, I am not recommending it at all. See, I find when I take the time to manually input all of the equations and information about them in my calculator, I retain the information better because I am forced to focus on every little aspect. Afterwards? Delete the program. You'll feel a lot more knowledgeable, and won't have to cheat. Of course, making note cards works as well, but you can make note cards more easily without focusing on the individual parts of a problem.

    4) Do not memorize, but instead, try to understand. Whenever you are faced with a reaction in chemistry, a tough integral in calculus, or an evolutionary mechanism in biology, do not try to memorize them. Instead, work them out a few times, and vocally explain what you are doing to your friends. Sometimes just the positive reinforcement of them nodding their heads can provide you with motivation to continue.

    5) Talk EVERYTHING out. One of the biggest benefits to group study sessions is collaboration between individuals. Everyone has their own individual ways of looking at things, and discussion is key. When you are speaking, you will become very aware of your gaps of knowledge, but you will also reinforce the knowledge that you already contain. Then when they speak, try to understand everything that they say, and assimilate that with your own mental processes.
    Armed Dodobird likes this.
  12. armybound

    armybound future urologist. Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 1, 2007
    :thumbup: I think these are great ways of learning the material. It works great for me
  13. doinmybest5840

    doinmybest5840 5+ Year Member

    May 17, 2007
    I study differently based on the class. For any classes with math-type problems (physics, math, chemistry), I keep up with assigned problems as much as humanly possible. If problems aren't assigned, then after reading each section, I do the corresponding problems in the book (usually just the ones with answers listed, since I won't know if I did the others correctly). I also try to finish reading a particular section or chapter before it is covered in class, so that I already have an idea of what is going on when the professor starts lecturing on a topic. I also take notes as I read the book, which are primarily made up of equations and bolded words/concepts, with the odd note tacked on from time to time. And finally, I always try to make sure to give myself at least 3 days before an exam where I'm done reading/learning the material and am now just in need of review. Sometimes if there is more material than I can review in that amount of time, I try to give myself more time, but it really depends on my schedule.

    Speaking in terms of particular subjects:
    1. Bio: I make tons of notecards. I mean TONS. I took parasitology this past semester, and I must have made 600+ notecards for all the parasites and diseases and vectors. Once I've learned the material (but not necessarily hammered it into my head permanently) I also make lists or outlines and then memorize them while fleshing out the list/outline with the important additional material. As for charts/graphs (e.g. life cycles, the Kreb's cycle, etc.), I'll draw them really neatly and then just stare at it until I memorize it, or perhaps rewrite them multiple times.

    2. Gen chem I didn't take in college (AP credits), but I did take Pchem: This class stank. Hahaha. Like I mentioned already, I took notes and did the problems according to the class schedule. I also made sure I went to the professor if I needed help. I found reviewing past exams to be a big help for the final, as well. If past exams are posted online or elsewhere, I would strongly recommend using them as a means of practice and a barometer for your success. Sit down and take them under real test conditions (time limit, no food/drink/phone/etc.) and see how you do. Of course, this isn't always worthwhile if the past exams are completely different than the current ones due to a change in professor for the class.

    3 & 4. Physics and math: Problems, problems, problems! I gave myself enough time that if I couldn't figure out problems, I could go for help before moving onto the next section or getting behind. Practice exams.

    5. Orgo: Part of the reason I did so well in the orgo classes was that I had by far the best professor ever for this class. Seriously. Better than any other professor I've had thus far. She was so excited and knowledgable, and loved teaching, so so that made me want to do well. This isn't something you can really control, though, so I guess I should say something else. I used a coursepack of old problems that I would keep up with over the semester. There was no particular order to the problems, outside of being separated by exam, but once a week or so I'd go through and do all the problems I'd learned about so far, so that I didn't get behind. I also kept up with the reading and did the book problems as a means of preparing for the harder coursepack problems.

    Okay wow, I wrote a lot. I hope this helps someone.
  14. Bartelby

    Bartelby 10+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    Studying for me is a two part process. First, attend classes regularly and read along with the lecture. Try to understand everything you cover as you reach it, even if you do not retain all of the details. Second, two days before the exam (or three if it is a very difficult exam) dedicate your life to studying for it. Read the material several times, do a large number of practice problems (if applicable), think about the material, and avoid doing anything other than studying for that period of time. Give it a rest at least a few hours before the exam, and try to get a fair amount of sleep the night before the exam.

    This may sound difficult, but it really isn't. It requires a minimal effort throughout the semester combined with a very concentrated effort near the exam, and it works well for me. Also, think about it this way-- if during the intense review session you learn enough to add just five points to your score, that could easily be the difference in a B+ and an A. Every point counts, and every detail should be fresh in your mind.

    As for specific classes, learn what your professor emphasizes. For instance, in some lab courses no one cares about results at all, they only care about your write up. In that case, don't stress about in lab performance but write effectively. Basically just look at the syllabus, see the breakdown of points awarded for different things (exams, essays, participation, etc.) and realize what needs to be emphasized so that you can focus attention on it.
  15. patrickd223

    patrickd223 5+ Year Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    It is amazing how clear a concept is when you actually read before the lecture! So many people miss this key principle and are left with blank faces as the professors rambles on about things they have never seen. Reading before class can be the difference between feeling confident or unconfident/day dreaming/drooling. Oh yeah! The difference between an A and a B.
  16. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN 7+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2005
    San Diego
    1. If long-term learning is of interest to you, DO NOT cram. Not to say everyone who crams does not learn the material long-term, but in general this tendancy is true.

    2. Try to judge very quickly how much of the course is memorization and how much can be derived/inferred from general principles. If you are in biochem, this will be nothing. If this is P-Chem, everything can be derived from like 4 equations and some ancillary definitions.

    3. Play games with important concepts. Ask yourself "what if" questions and then try to answer them. Start doing this as soon as you've looked at practice questions provided by your course. Go to office hours or other help to see if your logic is correct. This was the #1 key to my success in undergrad... it is a paradigmatic example of active learning.

    4. Do practice questions provided by your class EARLY. Do NOT save these before an exam (in med school, many of us always say this and ignore it anyway). We would like to take a test to know where we stand right before an exam, BUT THAT SHOULD NOT BE THE #1 PRIORITY. THE #1 PRIORITY IS LEARNING WHAT THE PROF THINKS IS IMPORTANT, ESP IN THE FORM YOU WILL BE ASKED IT ON THE TEST.

    5. Repetition is the key to memorization. I like flash cards. Make flash cards for things that cannot be inferred from general principles. Review them before you go to bed and right when you wake up.

    6. Organize ideas into different "classes". If this is o-chem, learn how to do EVERY problem both from the mechanism and WITHOUT the mechanism (i.e. what bonds are broken and formed, memorize the result). If this is pharmacology, make associations between drugs in different categories (i.e. study ACE inhibitors both in terms of difference between different ACEIs, and also group together ACEIs that are administered in inactive form with other drugs that are given as a prodrug).

    Think of it as storing the same information in different arrays, or in different spaces. If you can't retrieve (i.e. recall) the information in one way, you have it stored in a different location and have another "chance" to retrieve the same piece of information.

    7. In med school especially, don't be afraid to skip class, especially if there is a comprehensive syllabus or a class follows a book closely. We all learn different, and if lecture doesn't do it for you, you shouldn't sacrifice a chance to learn more overall to hear some obscure fact that some narcissistic professor thinks is "important" and will show up on the test.

    8. Listen to lots of advice, and pick and choose what you think works for you.
  17. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN 7+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2005
    San Diego
    There is a little pearl. Everyone is obsessed with doing well on tests, but doing well on tests does not always imply that something was learned. Rank the relative importance of "learning" and "doing well on tests to you".

    Separate out what are hoops you are jumping through and what you really find interesting. Study to do well on the test when you feel you're jumping through hoops. Study to learn when you truly enjoy the material. In the long run, you'll be better off, I think.
  18. Hyperstudyosis

    Hyperstudyosis 7+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2007
    Repitition, repitition, repitition is a key for me. I make flash cards and go over them frequently. In addition, it really helps me to explain concepts to someone else. I find that talking it out helps to more firmly "cement it" in my brain. I did this when studying with classmates and when I was at home. I actually drove my family crazy because I wouldn't quit talking about something or other that I was learning. But that really constitutes the best studying for me. I read and highlight my textbooks and outline and write essays on the important parts, especially anything that I can suspect will be on an exam. I am definitely not for cramming. It's not my style; I definitely prefer to learn as I go. Basically, I am ready for all tests well in advance (I could take most of my tests a week ahead of time and do just as well) because I study for a couple hours every day to stay on top of things. Another thing that helps me is reviewing while I exercise. If I'm going to run on the treadmill, I take my flash cards and go over them while I run (this also makes the run go much faster). If I'm outside running or rollerblading, I will review in my head nad just go over everything I can think of to go over. I usually have my outlines that I make of the textbook pretty much memorized in my head and I go from there. In fact me, one time, a classmate was quizzing me in preparation for a test and he was making fun of me for going exactly in the order I had written things on the outline. What can I say? I love outlining and it really helps me!
  19. el aye

    el aye O_o 5+ Year Member

    Feb 18, 2007

    A full cup of caffeine, eh? I bet you run through quite a few pencils on MC exams with the jittering and all ;)

    I haven't gone through the thread completely, but am I the only one that sucks at studying? Reading the first few responses makes me feel inferior because of my lack of initiative. I <3 being lazy :D The only studying I've done is just reading over my notes, but I do it so loosely that it probably doesn't even help me. I guess we'll see how that goes for orgo next semester.
  20. rich1234

    rich1234 2+ Year Member

    May 8, 2007
    Usually 2hrs per credit hr per week, I stick with around 14-15cred per semester.
  21. Hyperstudyosis

    Hyperstudyosis 7+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2007
    Hey, as long as you get good grades, I say do whatever works for you.
  22. tennisball80

    tennisball80 Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Wow guys nice advices here !
  23. chessknt87

    chessknt87 Physician 10+ Year Member

    Oct 10, 2007
    You bumped a year old thread to say nice advice?
  24. ns0


    Jul 19, 2011
    The greatest way i've found to learn something is:

    1. Try and teach it to someone else (even if they don't understand completely) you'll realize there's gaps in your knowledge as they ask questions or as you explain the fundamentals and go into details.

    2. Actually (and most importantly) be interested in the topic. Find a way to be interested. Imagine a situation where it may apply or a reason this could be useful at some point then ACTUALLY APPLY IT. (e.g., I was a CS major and while studying gen chem I wrote a program that automatically did Stoichiometry for me). When I've studied anatomy (because I love drawing and art) i'd spend plenty of time drawing what I was memorizing, and trust me it stuck.

    3. Write down questions. When a topic comes up such as Krebs cycle I would write down "Why is it so complicated" then ask my professor, surprisingly 3/10 questions i'd ask that seemed stupid to ask after class i'd get stuck in a hour long conversation with the professor and learn much more details about the subject than i'd ever be tested for (but some did come up later in classes).

    Either way, if you don't love it, learn to love it, and if you can't, re-evaluate why you're there.
  25. Andersen

    Andersen Banned

    Jun 21, 2011
    Krebs cycle that's easy. Can I Keep Selling Sex For Money Officer? Citrate Isocitrate alpha-Ketoglutarate....
  26. demh23

    demh23 Banned

    Jan 23, 2010
    hSDN Alumni
    Reported for indecency
  27. Drogo

    Drogo hakuna matata 2+ Year Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    I find to better retain material well one has to reference it to things already stored in their long term memory. This is how your brain works at its core, so if you're studying material you can say this reminds me of so and so and it works like this.

    When I was tutoring kids in their first college level bio course, most were just lost and didn't see the big picture. I would reference things they already had stored in their long term with the new material at hand; and by using clear analogies, things would click real fast. All of sudden they were going from :( to :soexcited:.

    I find the professors who make courses fun and provide ample analogies for a deeper understanding are always the most sought after ones.

    I've read studies where staying up too late after some major studying the days prior can actually have you losing 30% of what you had previously retained. So if you stay up late and crammed for an exam the day or two before, you very welll will be fine for the exam. Yet what if you are sabotaging the retainment of material in the long term?

    I'm just curious to how the late night crammers are when it comes time to study for the MCAT versus some one who took the longer route and diligently studied the material day in day out over weeks.

    My first bio prof always told us stories of the crammers and how quick some would get into the deep end towards the end of the course seeing exam scores go from upper 90's down to 50-60's real quick. He'd always say "You crammers crack me up!"
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  28. Hello. Here are study tips that I teach to my students. I am not a med. student nor a med. instructor however I have nearly a decade of teaching experience. I can go on and on with listing tips but I have condensed them it into the following list, created from my experience and what I have learned from others:

    As you take class notes, use the appropriate type of paper to write on and take notes to maximize what you learn during that particular lecture/concept being taught/explained. This is what your binder setup should look like (can also be used with composition notebooks as well as spirals):
    Use loose leaf pages if possible so you can remove/replace/swap positions. You should have white pages for diagrams + graphic organizers + standard college ruled writing paper.
    Use subject separators for each subject and that includes homework.
    Use post-it flags to discuss any topic or unsure idea from your notes the next day.

    Other learning strategies:

    Flash cards with description or drawing; not only definition or process

    Glossary use

    Lecture (notes, learn from hearing, record information on device, draw what instructor is mentioning, write down what you did not understand as it was said and consult later)

    Instructor interaction before and after class

    Instructor appointment

    Collect at least 3-5 email addresses and phone numbers from your peers in each course and continue to consult daily with your classmates on the latest lecture/concepts AND offer to assist in explaining a concept/idea to your peers. When you teach, it helps entrench the idea in your mind. And when your peers reciprocate, you also learn.

    Student study groups

    YouTube clips including TeacherTube

    Lecture notes skim/general study

    Individual/self talk-back and explain, or explain to another person

    Internet message boards or forums seeking question/answer

    Direct one on one tutoring at your school

    Record self talking on video explaining concept and play it back

    Take practice exams and answer self-assessment questions

    Write down what you do not understand, either in class, with peers, or during self-study, and address those issues using one of the consult methods mentioned on this list (tutoring, speak to teacher, msg. boards, etc.)

    Always participate in class by answering questions or asking questions. This is active learning which will help motivate you to learn more and improve your grades, day by day, one step at a time.

    Learn from others in class. Allow open dialogue and listen to what your classmates are saying. Don’t daydream. Learning must be active. Remember that the period will be over shortly. Focus. You will have to work one day. Practice professionalism now.

    Use this method to help retain information for the long haul. The way this process works is that new material must be reviewed with 24 hours of receiving it, and again within 48 of receiving it, then once every 7 days. Try this and watch your GPA soar!

    Study and look over material before class. This should not be done only before a test. You should come prepared ready to learn and participate.

    After class, review your notes. This is when they are the most fresh in your mind. Follow up the same day or the next by emailing your professor or peers to reinforce that concept.

    Make your own charts, diagrams, and drawings to cover detail

    Use Mnemonic devices whenever possible. Example - SLIM:
    Superior colliculi: Lateral geniculate body.
    Inferior colliculi: Medial geniculate body.

    Associate a term with a real-life object or experience that you have had so you can easily recall it. For example, associate HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol with "happy." You will easily remember which type of cholesterol is healthy for the body - HDL vs. LDL.

    Exaggerate parts of diagrams/illustrations to focus in on one main area and branch out from there. When you have to answer a question that requires many steps, draw it out and complete that drawing detail one part at a time.

    Some people learn by music so you can always attempt to create a jingle that matches the content of your study. Either that or match up the concept with an entire song.

    For all illustrations showing complex detail, cut it in 4 equal parts like a square and annotate on each part using as much detail as you can figure out or see. The attached pictures provide a basic example.


    60-second drills

    2-minute concept explanations

    20-minute minimum to 1 hour focused studying depending on subject and your personal peak performance relative to stamina

    Focused studying beats volume studying any day. Set a time to study for 30 minutes, super focus, learn, read and stop for an hour, go play some video games or chat with your friend about pop music, help family with dinner, etc., and return after the hour passes. You can use this cycle a few times throughout the day. Using visual cues (markers, underlining, circling, staring) are part of this super-focused learning. Studying hard is not as effective as studying smart. There is a difference.


    Switch subjects routinely

    In keeping with the age-old proverb that values quality over quantity, scientists have found that immersion is not an effective method of study, The New York Times reports. Rather than sticking to one subject and spending hours attempting to master it, you should switch between a few topics or subjects. It’s less boring – and you will learn more.

    Change study locations routinely

    Although some people swear by the library, cognitive scientists suggest alternating study spaces is a more effective way to retain information according to The New York Times. Memory is colored by location, and changing your study locales increases the likelihood of remembering what you’ve learned.

    Move your body. Research suggests studying the same stuff in a different place every day makes us less likely to forget that information. That’s because, every time we move around (from the library to the coffee shop, or the coffee shop to the toilet seat), we force the brain to form new associations with the same material so it becomes a stronger memory.

    Attached Files:

  29. Holmwood

    Holmwood WOW 2+ Year Member

    Jul 19, 2014
    1) Biology
    Record lectures, transcribe it, rewrite it on paper twice, trash it. (active learning!)
    *Sometimes I would have to refer to the book. I'm one of those people that have to rephrase it through writing to understand what the text means. Also helps when tackling medical literature for my research lab. (Also works with gen chem)
    2) Gen Chem
    Just read it thoroughly. Afterwards, do the practice problems in the back with the solution manual.
    3) Physics
    Pay attention during lectures, then attempt to do online homework.
    4) Math
    Patrickjmt. Nuff said. Do all practice problems with solutions manual.
    5) Organic
    Pay attention to lecture (notes are optional; I never took notes). Practice the mechanism in the book over and over again (don't need to read it). Do all the practice problems.
    6) Biochemistry
    Honestly the hardest class I ever took. Make a chart of all the reactions, enzymes, and how it all relates (at the end of a semester, my chart was like 4 feet by 4 feet). Practice rewriting reactions based on the chart! Record lecture and transcribe to put the reactions into context. Reading is pointless~
  30. AspiringERMD

    AspiringERMD 2+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2014
    Virgo Supercluster
    I study in bed. I like being comfortable so I'm not particularly tempted to get up and do other things. Graduated with a 4.0 and my friend didn't believe me when I said I hate studying at desks or tables :p
  31. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2012
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    Any biology class: read a little about the material before lecture, go to class, take notes while actively listening, go home and review the day's material. Do any problem sets given. Go over material again a couple days leading up to exams. Worked marvelously for any bio class I've taken (Physiology, Biochemistry, etc.)

    Math intensive classes: Do practice problems. Go over mistakes.

    Studying should NOT take an incredibly large amount of time if you do it correctly. I've never had to study more than 12 hours a week outside of finals.

    Sent from The World Tree using SDN Mobile

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