Study Habits

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Jon Davis, Nov 24, 2000.

  1. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.

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    Does anyone have any good study habits or note taking habits they want to share?
    I'm looking at different techniques to studying, note taking, researching material and so forth. I understand that some of these skills are relative to the individual's "brain wiring" but I think the more suggestions posted the more doors I can open with these new techniques. Thanks.
     
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  3. EricCSU

    EricCSU Senior Member

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    Hello. I'm a tutor at my university and I help give programs on study skills for freshman. I realize that this is a slightly different situation that what you might be in, but I do get lots of ideas from all the people that I talk to. Here are a few things that worked for me (remember, this is just what worked for me; if you find it not working, forget it and move on. If you're going to fail, "fail fast"):

    1. Use the 3 times method. It's been proven that, for most information, learning it 3 times is the most efficient method. What this means is: skim the information before class, take good notes in class, and then review the notes after class. Here is what I do:
    I will skim the reading before I get to class (usually the night before). Look at key definitions, diagrams, figures, schemas, and cycles. Don't read the text, it will take too long and you won't get that much more from it. Don't expect to be an expert on the information from this, or even understand everything, JUST READ IT.
    Next, go to class. In most situations, going to class will be extremely beneficial. Take good notes and sit near the front. You won't have to take as many notes, because you've already seen the information. While others are scrambling for minutia and definitions, you can LISTEN, which is more important. I tend to listen more and write less in most classes, because I've already seen what is in the text.
    Finally, review those notes. Some people find that just reading the notes is enough; I don't. I'm a kinesthetic learner (hands-on), so I benefit the most from recopying my notes. When I recopy them, I use 4 or 5 colored pens, with each meaning a different thing (blue=new heading/concept, red=definition, black=default, green=examples). It usually takes between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on how intensive the material is and how long the lecture is.
    After completing these three steps, I usually retain most (90%) of the material, which I've noticed is more than most of my classmates who just take notes in class. Now, this isn't all you need to do, this is just to keep up with the material. More on test studying later...

    2. Use Colors. I highlight and write in different colors (each color having a different meaning). This is good for a couple reasons. It forces you to slow down and actually understand the material. Also, when looking up something specific in your notes, you can just look for a certain color. Just as important, colors are stimulating. You will remember something in color better than in black and white. I'm not sure why, but I do and this phenomenom has been confirmed with several other friends.

    3. If you need to borrow notes from a missed lecture, borrow them from someone who takes more detailed notes than you do. This way, you'll miss less.

    4. If you can, start studying for a test a week prior. Putting in a couple hours every day for a week is more effective and less stressful than putting in 7 or 8 the night before, and even more effective than 3 or 4 the 2 nights prior. Also, most times, you won't need to study the night before (If you do this, take 20 minutes right before the test to quickly skim over the big concepts).

    I really hope this can help. I have many more ideas, but I don't have time to type them all right now. If you have any other questions, please send me an email.

    Eric
     
  4. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.

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    Thanks. I'd like to know more about some methods described above. Can you tell me where to find them Eric? You dont need to post your email, a simple URL will do. (assuming theres a website)
     
  5. EricCSU

    EricCSU Senior Member

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    I wish I could direct you to a website. The truth is that what I described above is taken from a packet that I do for freshman study skills workshops. I take information from all different sources and have made informational packets and presentations. If you have questions, please email me at:

    [email protected]

    I'm sorry that it took me so long to reply. Have a great day.

    Eric
     
  6. alceria

    alceria Senior Member

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    I got a Palm Vx about a month ago, and I've been typing up my organic notes and downloading them to my PDA. I also bought a mini keyboard that hooks up to the PDA so I can type on it, w/o using my desktop or hauling my laptop around. I can actually type faster than I can write, and it's easier for me to go back and read something if it's typed rather than in my chicken scratch. Also, my hand tends to cramp if I write a lot of notes, and I'm really anal retentive about writing detailed notes for some of my classes. Once I write/type up something, I remember it. Anyway, having everything on my PDA is awesome. I don't have to carry around my books to have all the information I need at my fingertips. So I'll often review material when I have spare time, like waiting in lines, commuting to school, during my office hours or before lecture. It's working out well for me. There's also a couple different programs that let you make flash cards and stuff on your PDA but I haven't gotten around to tinkering with that yet.

    I've decided that for my next semester of organic chemistry I'm going to just use plain white (unlined) paper and get one of those pens that writes in four colors. I think it will be easier to go back to my notes and read them if they are neat and leaving groups and stuff are in a different color. My teacher likes to show several different pathways to a product and I think it would be helpful to color code it so I can remember what the heck was going on with the reaction when I go back to review it.

    One great way to test yourself and really reinforce the concepts you are studying is to try to teach them to someone else. I work as an undergrad assistant for an honors math program, and we put our kids in groups for problem solving and it ends up helping them not only in their workshops, but in the class itself. Teaching the material to someone else really makes you question it and try to comprehend it more fully. It also pinpoints what you don't understand and need to work on. If you can get a group together and perhaps take turns introducing and explaining a concept it would probably be helpful. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to hear a concept presented in a different context which may shed more light on the subject for you.

    Also, if you find a particular class difficult, seek out tutoring. Most science departments will offer tutoring for their department. The university in general will also have a tutoring center. At my university, there is a general tutoring center, and also tutoring centers located in the engineering, chemistry, and math departments (and prolly more I'm not aware of). Tutoring is usually free but you'll have to find out if you need an appointment or if it is walk-in. Try to be prepared when you come in, and have questions ready and a goal for what you want to accomplish in that session. I work as a math tutor and it's very frustrating when people come in and want explanations, but don't want to do any work.

     
  7. Pathologist

    Pathologist Senior Member

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    I find the best way to study is to type out my notes. It helps b/c you have to read them and then think about it as you type it in. Hope that helps [​IMG]
     
  8. EricCSU

    EricCSU Senior Member

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    Hello all, I have a few more ideas so I thought I'd post them:

    For Gross Anatomy:
    In the lab portion, get all the "need to know" structures from the list and highlight them in your atlas. Once you highlight them, write the page and side of the page next to it on the list (ie. abductor digiti minimi: 187R or mitral valve:355L...L and R meaning the left and right side of the page). Also, some pages in your atlas will be just a good general page for structures, such as the anterior thigh slide in Netter's. It has tons of muscles on it and a few arteries, nerves, etc. On those pages, highlight everything you need to know. Then, mark that page somehow. When I'm brushing up, there are usually about 10 pages (per unit) that I can look at in my atlas that in total, will have about 80% of the structures.

    Also, use note cards (sometimes). What I like to do is group muscles with similar functions, innervations, etc. and put them all on the same card. Here's an example: The major hip intrisic muscles (piriformis, superior gemellus, obturator internus, inferior gemellus, and quadratus femoris; listed superior to inferior) all have the same action, which is hip stablilization and lateral rotation. You can group these together and it will make memorizing much easier. Another example is the leg. I divide the leg into 3 compartments: anterior, posterior superficial, and posterior deep. Each compartment has several muscles, but they all basically have the same action and innervation. It also helps immensely when you get a question like: Someone with damage to the deep peroneal nerve would be unable to a)dorsi flex b)invert c)plantar flex d)a+b. If you just remembered which compartment the deep peroneal nerve innervated, then you know which muscles would be affected, and therefore which actions would be limited.

    Everyone else should feel free to list the study techniques that they really like. If I have time later, I'll do physiology, biochemistry, organic chem, etc. Have a great day!

    Eric
     

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