Study Advice

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by La Fiera, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. La Fiera

    La Fiera Member

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    I'm having some trouble with figuring out how to study right. It seems like I waste a hell of a lot of time outlining my notes, and that it takes forever to read and memorize any of the class notes.
    I've heard that writing questions helps, and I know that reading noter before going to class definately makes a difference. Anybody have a really great way of studying?
    Also, considering how much time we're supposed to be in class, (8hours a day) I'm torm between going to class (where I sometimes fall asleep, or daydream) and ditching it to study on my own (but possibly miss extra stuff thats said in class).
    Thanks!
     
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  3. paean

    paean Senior Member

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    You need to figure out what kind of learner you are (auditory, visual and kinesthetic are the big three, but many people are a combination of two). It sounds like lectures aren't effective time wise for you.

    Some schools have people who will test you to figure out how you best learn. That information is very valuable. If you don't know about what your school offers, ask someone in the student affairs office or if they have one, in academic help program.

    Is there a note taking service at your school or a student note taking pool (where the interested students rotate who will record and transcribe notes for a certain percentage of lectures)? That might be your answer to missing things. You also should start to notice which lecturers stick to the book or their (distributed) lecture notes and which ones you need to attend.

    I can't imagine going to that many hours of lecture a day and still having enough study time to learn and understand the material. I can be an audio learner for about an hour, two if I really concentrate, but then I need to read or do something actively to absorb more. I go to most the lectures at UCSF, but they only have about two hours a day. The rest is lab, small group or "free time."

    Here's one way to think about how you learn. Someone comes up to you and says, if you pass a test in xyz (subject in which you know absolutely nothing) four hours from now, I'll give you $10K. They direct you to a room which has video taped lectures which will cover the subject in exactly four hours, a short book that will cover the subject, or short passages with problem sets that cover the subject. You only have time to do one approach. What do you choose?

    I'd choose the book for a subject that I had no prior knowledge of, and the problem sets with short explanitory passages for something I has some prior understanding. And that's about how I approach medical school. The lectures are only for reinforcement, or to hear new ways to consider something.

    At some schools, students who don't find lectures useful form study groups so they have structured time to go over the material, and take those groups seriously. They assign themselves stuff to prepare for the next group every time they meet (I knew of one at UCI that met daily) and then go over the material as a group, and work through problems using what they learn (supposedly board review books are a good source of problems, but I have no personal experience with them).

    Other students study on their own, or with a partner, or in a less structured study group.

    Explore what other students in your class are doing, you might be able to join them.

    Best of luck figuring out what works for you.
     
  4. Dr. Wall$treet

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    Not sure what subject our talking about exactly or waht your having rtouble wtih but i always try to connect the thinsg i learn, like try to relate everything, to other knoweldge you have of the subect and know WHY crap is happenign or for what reason rather then memorizing everything. Everything connnects youll see. As for exactly tecniques, i always read or write crap out if it is for memorization, i never wasted time underlinin notes and crap.. everyone is so different in that respect thouhg so my avice is try to learn why stuff is oing on
     
  5. o.neel

    o.neel New Member

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    you have to figure out your own way of studying . listen to all the advice others give you but then decide your own way.usually it is a combination of more than one experience of others .the best method of learning in my opinion is to read whatever is taught at your school before the same week is over .try going to class regulary at the beginning of the course and then you will an idea of how effective attending this particular course lectures are.
    good luck!
     
  6. cmz

    cmz Pathology Wannabe
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    I usually make notes/questions in the margins of our syllabi. They usually help out when it's time to go back and study for end of block finals. You already have a well-thought out question to ask yourself/others and it should reinforce what your are supposed to learn.

    The best advice I can give is to be able to actually discuss the material with someone else. If you can walk through everything with another person, then you absolutely know the material.
     
  7. DR

    DR Xtra Large Member

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    When I was in first and second year, I think the biggest mistake I made was not skipping class to read. I sat there, exhausted, and learned nothing. I had a couple of friends who would skip class, sleep a little later (emphasis on little) and go study for the day on their own. By the time the exam came up, these guys had already read the syllabus, and read a bunch of text on the subject. Then when study time came, they were already in the know on much of the stuff. Plus, they were a hell of a lot less stressed than the rest of us becuase if you get up in the morning and have, let's say 4 hours (or more if you're so inclined) to study, you've done TONS and there's the rest of the day and evening to do with what you will. My friend did this and he did all his favorite things every day...no stress. Meanwhile, I was sitting yawning in class all day, then coming home and first sitting down to study in the late afternoon. By this time I am exhausted and not retaining anything. My friend couldn't understand it. He did very well on his exams. When you study on your own time, you wind up studying multiple resources (syllabus, texts, etc.)...plus, when you have the entire day and night, you don't mind taking an hour or two off here and there (get coffee, read a magazine, soak up sun, etc.), which equals=less stress. Why didn't I do it? I felt as you do...worried that I'd miss some key information there. He never went to school after the first Christmas...rocked the exams...whatever extras they give you are in the chapters of texts you normally don't have time to read. I think medical schools have a way to go yet in figuring out how to get students to learn in a good, efficient fashion. 8 hours of lecture certainly is not, in fact I'd say it's an impediment. Well...good luck.
     
  8. La Fiera

    La Fiera Member

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    Thank you all for your advice!
    I won't be sleeping through the useless classes anymore!
     
  9. beezar

    beezar Senior Member

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    I totally agree! I went to around 2 months of classes in basic sciences, and skipped all of the rest of basic science classes. And I did relatively well on my exams, plus was much happier. Go ahead and study on your own... much more efficient and it will keep your sanity. I would say that around 30% of professors are any good at teaching, and even then, you can learn the material on your own. The other 70% is just a complete waste of time.

    Clinics is different though, I found lectures to be many times very useful, because books won't give you those little clinical pearls that lecturers often do.
     
  10. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Unfortunantly, my school has mandatory attendence, so skipping is out of the question. It's realy a shame, because almost all of the lecturers post their slides on our web-site, and we have a good note-taking service.
     
  11. zpdoc

    zpdoc Senior Member

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    I think how you study has a lot to do with what you want to accomplish in school. If P=MD is ok for you, then I definitely would say skip all your classes and study on your own. If you are a gunner, however, and are really trying to ace all your classes, you might find that you just miss too much key info by skipping class. You really have to be willing to kill yourself if you want the H, and make it your top priority, because chances are at least 15% of your class are thinking the same thing.
    It depends a lot on the individual professors: there are some who write outstanding lecture notes that have all the information you need or will be tested on. In that case, by all means skip the class. However, I've found that at least at my school, some of the profs are vindictive bastards who take it as a personal insult if students don't attend their class, and therefore either A) write incomprehensible notes, B) cite 3 chapters in the text for every lecture, or C) write ok notes, but toss in bits here and there on the side during class and then test you on those bits.
    In these cases, you pretty much have to play their game and go to class. I always tried to write down everything they said that wasn't written in the notes. After an exam or two, when you've seen some of their questions, you can almost develope a sixth sense about when a prof is mentioning some obscure fact and inwardly gloating over how many students aren't paying attention and will get it wrong.
    The key is knowing the profs and their style of questions. MD's tend to be more laid back, and often will tell you what two facts you have to know from their lecture for the test, so going to class for these can add up to easy points. Another thing - if you're super motivated, read the lecture notes before class and try to understand them - then you won't be wasting your time in class and will actually be solidifying knowledge in your head (although I admit, I was never motivated enough to do this - but there are always a few people in each class who do!).
    Another tip - the more ways you approach the material, the more connections you will form in your brain, and the more you will be able to recall. Especially if your learning is active rather than passive - you can read and highlite the material eighteen times and when someone asks you a question, you find that you can't recall any of it.
    My own strategy: I tried to go to every lecture I could, or listen to the tape if I missed so I could hear the material at least once, then I basically went over the info and wrote everything down in a notebook. Everyone thought I was crazy because I obsessed about getting absolutely every detail down, but it's those obscure details that are the 10-20% of the questions designed to separate the P's from the H's, and even if I couldn't recall the answer directly, having written it down and understood it at least once before helped guide me (sometimes subconciously it seemed) to the right choice.

    Ok I know I'm a freak. ;) Hope any of this helped.
     
  12. Cochira

    Cochira spin spin.... sugah

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    egads :wow: ...there's no high pass in there?!!
     
  13. 8744

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    Here's my study technique. It may not apply to you. It might not apply to somebody going to Harvard or Dartmouth Medical School. I go to a state medical school in the South. I am not at the top of the class but I am not at the very bottom. I have never failed a test.

    So nobody flame me. I am not implying that this will work for you or fit your needs.

    When I started as a freshman, I printed out the lecturer's notes, took notes in class, and used the note taking service. I also attempted to write summary notes of the lectures. I spent hours a day doing this.

    Complete waste of time.

    Now, I download the lecture notes to my computer. (99% of all test questions come from these notes.) I rarely print anything out. I review the all the lecture notes pertaining to the next test every day. I read them completely, but at the same time I don't get bogged down.

    Naturally, at the beggining of the test cycle this takes less time then towards the end. Right before the test I'm spending maybe three hours a day reviewing the material. I might cheat a bit and put in a four or five hour day right before the test.

    I also read the relevant chapters in Robbins or Guyton when I get bored of looking at the same notes for the sixth or seventh time. (but Harrison's? Fuggedabouit!)

    Oh, and I go to every class and try to pay attention.

    I spend about three hours a day studying, but I'm consistent. Some of you know that I have a wife, two kids, and a baby due any day now. (Not to mention four dogs) I'm not prepared to sacrifice the family life for a dermatology residency. (Or at least until I won't sacrifice until I absolutely have too.)

    Oh, I also spend about an hour after the family goes to bed studying for the USMLE step 1.
     

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