Learning How to Study: 5 Tips


I have never met anyone who actually LIKES to study. There is nothing fun about it. Yes, I do love learning about things I am passionate about, but I always wish there was any easier way than spending hours in front of a computer screen or reading text books. I went to a high school that never really challenged me, so when I went to college, I had a major wake up call. I never learned how to study! My first semester was full of many tears and just not understanding how I made such good grades in high school but couldn't seem to get a decent grade to save my life in college. Throughout undergrad I did eventually learn how to study, but just enough to get by. I never really felt like I had mastered MY way of learning. Fast-forward to medical school...I knew I had to figure something out. I read this book before starting school and I think it really helped give me some new ideas and put things into perspective. I am the weirdo that has somehow received better grades in medical school than I ever did in undergrad, and I attribute this to really putting the effort into figuring out how I need to be studying. Here are some of the things that have worked for me:

1. Pre-read I am sure you have all heard your professors tell you to read your lectures before coming to class. Do it! I usually do a quick skim, spending maybe 15-20 minutes, and pick up key words. This helps me pay better attention during class because I am able to anticipate what is coming next. I feel more confident during lecture, and get more out of it. If I am going to be spending 50 minutes sitting in class listening to someone talk, I want to make sure it is not time wasted.

2. Mapping This is something that I learned in medical school. There are a bunch of online resources and apps that explain mapping and provide an easy way to create them. If you are having trouble organizing your notes, give this a try!

3. Group study I like to reserve studying with others for the day or two before an exam. This way I can come prepared and contribute to the group study. Always be willing to help your peers that might not understand something as well as you do. If you can teach something to someone else, you are solidifying it in your brain and guaranteeing that you can reproduce the information.

4. Take breaks Burn out sucks. It is also avoidable. I try to take breaks at least once every hour for maybe 5-10 minutes. I talked about this a bit in my post about staying motivated. Nothing is worse than the moment you realize you have been staring cross-eyed at a page for 10 minutes not taking anything in.

5. Practice questions Practice questions are my favorite thing to incorporate into my studying. I usually hit these hard the day before the exam. I am obsessed with Osmosis, which I use to not only to take my notes, share resources with classmates, and organize my studying, but it also has a HUGE question bank. If I want more questions, sometimes I just google "practice questions on [whatever topic I am studying]." Always read the explanations, not only for the correct answers but also the incorrect answers.

*Osmosis is offering 30% off until October 16th using this link! I seriously cannot say enough about how much I love this program!

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