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Study Partners/Group Study in Medical School

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by DoctaJay, May 2, 2007.

  1. DoctaJay

    DoctaJay bone breaker Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    San Diego
    Hey everyone. I wouldn't consider myself a loner at all, and I love helping people if I understand a concept and everything, but I've heard alot of times that you can't get through medical studying by by yourself (like I do now in undergrad). Is this true? I don't mind studying with people, but only when I know the info myself and we can just quiz each other...I hate "learning" with a study partner. I don't know...Will I have to change my thinking in medical school and just learn how to "learn" and "study" with a partner? Will I ever feel comfortable enough with the info (know enough) to be able to shoot questions back and forth to my partner?
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  3. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    Studying in a group at a restaurant = bad idea

    Studying in a group at a quiet place = doable but not preferable IMO

    Studying in pairs = alright if you are both at the same level or polishing up before an exam

    Self-study = really the only way to go for me

    Everybody has their preference, but groups tend to slow me down in general. It probably depends on where everybody is at relative to each other more than anything else.
  4. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse Administrator Physician SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    No - you don't need to worry. It's just that some classes in med school really are geared towards group study. For example - anatomy lab practicals. Since there aren't any good practice questions available to help you quiz yourself on the lab practicals, you need to have someone else quiz you and vice versa. (There are some practice practicals online, but I didn't find them challenging enough for my class. I used Rohen to quiz myself, but not everyone likes Rohen.)

    Otherwise, people recommend studying with other people because it keeps you motivated. It's a little embarrassing to goof off or take frequent bathroom breaks if you're studying at a table with a bunch of your classmates.

    You really don't need to study with anyone else - just buy practice questions and use your school's resources effectively, and you'll be fine. Many people that I know who are doing very, very well in school never study with a partner.
  5. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Everybody tries the group study thing initially. Only 1 out of a dozen groups seemed to actually work well. Far too many turned into nonproductive gabfests. Plus, after a few exams some people will decide it is not actually helping them and bail from their group. By the end of first year most people will be studying alone. So give it a try, but you absolutely can get through med school studying by yourself.
  6. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    May 30, 2001
    Gone Walkabout!
    My Hints for a Successful Study Group
    • No more than five people (not a party)
    • Have people with varied backgrounds (abilities)
    • Study for 1 hour; break for 15 minutes; study for 1 hour ...
    • Establish Ground Rules at the outset of the semester
    • Must study on own before meeting with group
    • Decide ahead of time (before group meets) subject or what's to be covered/ Stay on topic and limit time (3 hours is about right).
    • If not prepared, don't come
    • Meet in the same place; same time; weekly or biweekly

    Participants should have a similar work ethic. Some groups are too "laid-back" and some are too "anal". Get with a group of like-minded individuals. Bring snack food but don't study over dinner. Take a break for dinner. Bring beverages etc.

    Have a large dry-erase board handy or study in an empty classroom that has chalkboard/dry erase board for outlining concepts.

    You probably won't want to meet with your study group more than twice weekly. Sometimes you may have a "study-buddy" that you both study in the same room but save the "group-thing" for your study group.

    Study groups work very well for USMLE Study, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Pathology where you can discuss cases or diseases. Quiz each other, lecture each other, cover a series of lectures but make sure that everyone has kept up and has reviewed the material. Group study solidifies information at their best but isn't for tutoring and teaching.

    My study group had three people. We met weekly but studied on our own during the week. We would generally meet at someone's house and would bring food.

    During freshman year, we would have cadaver rounds in the Gross Lab every Saturday morning. We each took an area from the previous week and taught it to members of the group.
  7. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I've never liked studying in a group, so I haven't tried it yet. I wouldn't say that it hurts me, but then again, I've heard some good things about some of my classes study groups, so sometimes I wonder. I.e. the group will give out assignments based on what they are good at and all share the info so each individual does less work over all. One individual might prepare a histology study guide, one might go through and answer all the objectives in detail, one might prepare a anatomy study guide, and one might make very detailed complete notes (like a comprehensive syllabus, something our school doesn't provide) for all of the lectures. I think I would like getting into a group like that...
  8. potato51

    potato51 10+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    Nah, I study by myself and I'm doing alright. I tried the group thing once for anatomy, but didn't think it was a very efficient way to study.
  9. tulane06

    tulane06 Private Joker 5+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Study Group = Cup of Coffee + Syllabus
  10. SelflessAct

    SelflessAct kickin' it 2+ Year Member

    Aug 15, 2006
    durty souf
    Studying in a group is pretty useless really until maybe the day before the exam. You truly can accomplish a lot more by yourself than having a group potentially hold you back. However, studying alone can sometimes get boring and lonely. What works well though is solo studying, but with a buddy. You two (or three) go to the same place and sit together but study independently. It's nice cause if you have a question in the middle, you can always bounce it off of them or have a small discussion about it. But be warned this can also get distracting, especially if you are not good at ending a tangent and re-focusing.
  11. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza Physician 10+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Who told you that? Of course you can study on your own. I like to quiz/be quizzed, but I do all my studying on my own.
  12. 78222

    78222 Guest

    Sep 11, 2005
    If you ever hear someone say "you must do ____ to survive in medschool", say thanks for the advice and then ignore everything that person has to say. Although everyone (at least at first) seems to think their way is the right way, there are as many different ways to study are there are people in medical school. I remember someone giving me this look of contempt at the beginning of M1 when I said something about not going to class anymore because I wasn't getting anything out of it. He then said "how do you expect to learn if you don't go to class?". Well, I have learned just fine and am doing just fine. I have never studied with anyone else, save for reviewing for Gross practicals and its worked out fine for me.
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Agreed. You have to find what works best for you. There are more people doing things that won't work for you as will. Try everything till you find something that seems to work, and don't be afraid to revamp when something doesn't. If you benefit from group study do it, if you benefit from studying solo do it. So too with class attendance, outside resources, morning vs evening studying, etc.
  14. DoctaJay

    DoctaJay bone breaker Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    San Diego
    Could this survey be skewed because SDN is made up of primarily gunners who wouldn't study with others anyway? lol, I guess I'm calling myself a gunner to. Anyway, thanks for the responses, I feel alot better now and less selfish about self studying in med school.
  15. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse Administrator Physician SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    Nope, you have it backwards. Real gunners LOVE studying with other people, because it lets them demonstrate their obsessive mastery of the material in public. It also allows them to pimp other people in their study group for a nightly ego-boost.

    Needless to say, study groups that include at least 1 gunner don't last for very long.
  16. LadyWolverine

    LadyWolverine 10+ Year Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Hiding in your closet
    I'm managing to do well, and I don't do "group study." Usually, the other person/people are on completely different levels from you (honestly, I always feel like everyone is 5 steps ahead of me, which just makes me freak out). So, I prefer to study alone. That being said, I try to study AROUND other people. There's nothing more inspiring then being in a hardworking atmosphere. A friend of mine and I will study together at school - I pick her up at 8am during exam weeks, and we will stay at school until midnight. Then we will leave all of our stuff at school, go to our respective homes, go to bed, and get up in a few hours to do it all over again. We rarely talk about actual school stuff (unless one of us has a burning question), but we certainly get a lot of work done. She forces me to be there, because I have to pick her up, and she has to go, too, because I am picking her up. She kicks my ass when I feel like quitting, and vice-versa. And there's always someone to get lunch with, or to just generally bitch to when I'm feeling overwhelmed.
    In my opinion, this is the most useful form of "group study." You don't even have to be in the same room - just knowing that there's another person around who is in the same boat as you is motivation enough.
  17. akpete

    akpete Drinks, anyone? 7+ Year Member

    Jun 14, 2004
    This is my favorite method. Plus, then you don't feel quite as antisocial if you are putting in long hours that week. Esp if you study in public like a coffee shop, rather than at someone's house or a school classroom.
  18. ut2010

    ut2010 Medical Student 2+ Year Member

    Apr 11, 2007
    I study independently during the day and in the evening I meet with a friend and we do some questions to test our understanding of the material.

    I like that approach because it keeps me accounable for keeping up with the material, I want to be able to help her in answering a question or explaining a concept.

    Studying alone all the time is too isolating for me, I lose my focus.

    Working with someone is great for lab classes, it is a great way to be quizzed on various structures.
  19. DrNeva242

    DrNeva242 Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2006
    The way I study really depends on the class. For some classes I don't even go to lecture because it is a giant waste of time. I always study on my own but I found it helpful to review with a partner (quizzing each other or just talking it out). This only worked for me some of the time, again, depending on the class. It will take you a week or more to figure out how to cram in your head the things you need to know. Important things are to a) not freak out and b) remember that your style will change depending on the class. :)
  20. towards stardom

    towards stardom life isnt fair...go deal 2+ Year Member

    May 4, 2007
    doesnt matter
    groups arent really a good idea. mainly, the gossiping ensues within 5 mins. pairs are also a bad idea. opp sex, predictable. same sex (especially female) see above w/ groups.

    my advice. study by yourself and go online if you need help *nods*
  21. Rogue Synapse

    Rogue Synapse The Dude Has Got No Mercy 7+ Year Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I can't really study by myself, ever. I do 90% of my learning during exam week by talking through things with a group of people. Then I do high 80s/low 90s on the tests, which is good enough for me. Moral:To each her own. Don't stress about whether or not your preferred study habit (i.e.: hermitism) is socially acceptable.
  22. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    I usually sit with a friend, but we often just put on our headphones and study however we want for a while. Occasionally, we'll bounce some questions off each other or just chat/play pool when we're bored, but until we're right before the exam, we're not really studying together.
  23. Mayhem

    Mayhem Scut Bear 5+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Somewhere only we know
    I have a study group that I run past papers with the week of the exam and a study buddy who's really there just to motivate me to get to the library but other than that I pretty much study alone. My study buddy and I are almost never studying the same things but we can bounce questions off each other or dumb something down if the book is getting wrapped up in itself. The large group of people with convoluted timetables and flash cards is just not me but it works for some people.

    Actually now that I think about it, the people in my class who fail are usually the ones that study alone. But I don't think studying alone is the cause of the problem, it's likely a symptom. I mean the people i'm thinking of are either studying alone because of some glaring personality deficit that shows up whenever they have to talk to a patient. Or, they intentionally isolate themselves to their own detriment, like the girl who didn't find out that the exam date was changed or the guy who didn't know our IM OSCE would have a counselling station this year. Whatever the reason, I know that there are lots of other people who study alone and don't fail.
  24. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Or they could be people forced to study alone because of how little they bring to the table. Groups tend to weed out the dead weight early.
  25. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    Or that shows up any time they actually open their mouths? I'm curious how a few people ever made it past their interviews. Most people are fine, but there are just a few....
  26. Mayhem

    Mayhem Scut Bear 5+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Somewhere only we know
    I thought of that but didn't type it because our class is really close, almost cultish. I just can't see someone being excluded because they're not bright enough. Even the lazy ones get roped in by somebody trying to rehabilitate them. You really have to go out of your way to be left alone...

    ...unless you're one of these people. I don't know how they got it either but it's probably not hard if you have a good personal statement and then confine yourself only to the questions asked in the interview. They'll probably chalk up the blah interview to nervousness and think you're the deep, thoughtful person (you paid to impesonate you) in the essay.
  27. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar* 10+ Year Member

    Jul 29, 2007
    worth it?
  28. ArcGurren

    ArcGurren only one will survive 2+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    Holy thread resurrection batman, 4 years old, back when TheProwler was but a wee medical student

    But since it exists... my opinion is that the whole "you have to study with others" spiel is bull. I actually felt worse when studying with others in M1/M2 because I'd inevitably feel like an idiot or the other people with me would know more about a topic and make me feel dumber. Yet when I went to take exams I wouldn't bomb horrifically like they'd make me think I would, because I ended up studying on my own at my own pace. I agree with whoever above said that these are classic attractions for gunners because they love to showboat their own advice and pimp other people.

    I did occasionally study with a couple of people but they were actual friends who would have complementary knowledge, not just stupid pimping questions.
  29. TOcho118

    TOcho118 2+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    The ultimate gunner mentality: Tell everyone else that they should not study in groups because the others will only bring them down.

    Meanwhile, form the ultimate "gunners only" study club with fellow gunners. ---> Guaranteed ortho match
  30. Reo

    Reo Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 3, 2010
    One simply needs to find what works for them.
  31. ArcGurren

    ArcGurren only one will survive 2+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    Alternatively, it goes the prison gang route and everyone ends up shanking each other with personal homemade shivs
  32. HMAN2009

    HMAN2009 2+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2009
    Our school sort of pushed the idea on us & I decided to try it even though I have always studied on my own.

    IMO it was a horrible idea and kind of screwed me. When you study on your own (and are used to it) you typically feel comfortable with the progress you are making. Then you take the exam and realize if you need to study harder or not.

    I felt that by studying in a group, especially when the other people had the material before, it just raised my stress level and lowered my confidence in my abilities.

    Come my second year, I'm going back to solo. I mean, studying by myself has worked all my life, why should I stop now?

    A previous poster had a good point about lab stuff. That is perhaps one exception. But at our school you can pretty much just show up & start working with people...
  33. shadowfox87

    shadowfox87 7+ Year Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    I thought this once too, so I thought I'd give people another chance. Nope, I'm still my favorite study partner, but a lot of my friends come to me for questions all the time, so it's fun answering them, but I can't study with someone. Do what works for you. In med school, when they promote this "group studying" stuff, what they really mean is when you're a doctor, you'll have to discuss with other docs in a team to figure out a case. Big whoop. That has nothing to do with studying. In labs, groups are fine, but real hardcore studying should be done solo.
  34. Mattchiavelli

    Mattchiavelli 5+ Year Member

    May 22, 2010
    I had two friends that were I guess my study buddies- it was more of a loose confederacy of studying because we'd be in the same area of the library and study on our own, and maybe every few hours or so would take a break and socialize. It was good because I think it made me more committed, like how people say if they exercise with a friend they are less likely to skip on going to the gym because they feel an obligation to others. It was also nice b/c we could ask one another about concepts we weren't getting, and if someone found a new resource or way of studying that worked well for a class they'd share so it was a 3 heads are better than one thing. One of the friends got junior AOA, FWIW.

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