Here’s Why You Should Always Take Notes during Your Question Bank Study Sessions

note taking

Question bank software is one of the best and most powerful tools available to medical students in 2021. As the years go by, the technology continues to improve in a way that helps students retain more information and learn to think critically, both of which are critical for careers as doctors and surgeons. If you’re not taking notes during your qbank study sessions, you might be missing out. Here are some of the best reasons to take notes while you’re using your qbank.

Digital vs. Handwritten Notes

If you’re wondering whether you should take digital or hand-written notes, the debate over this subject has been ongoing since the days of the first laptops. Each method comes with its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so it’s really a matter of personal choice. Research the pros and cons of each one, then decide what works best for you. You might also consider trying each method for yourself so that you can determine which option seems to benefit you the most. There’s no wrong way to go about it.

The Benefits of Notetaking

Whether you’re listening to a lecture or answering questions in your qbank software, the benefits of notetaking are significant.

  • It improves your focus and memory. When you’re taking the time to jot down the most important bits of information, you’re internalizing that information, which increases the odds that you will retain it later.
  • It’s a form of active learning. Simply sitting and reading or listening to someone speak is a very passive way of learning, but when you involve notetaking, you’re taking part in an activity. This also helps you retain more information.
  • It improves comprehension. Sometimes the mere act of writing things down – even if you don’t really understand them at first – is enough to trigger basic comprehension in your mind.
  • It helps you learn to prioritize information. It should also be noted that taking notes requires you to think about things like headings, subheadings, subtopics, and supporting details. This process can help you break down big chunks of information into smaller, more manageable pieces that are easier for you to learn over time.

Notetaking with Your Question Bank Sessions

You might already take notes during lectures or virtual study groups to help you capture new pieces of information, but if you aren’t taking notes when you utilize your question bank for studying, you may not be getting the most out of it. Many of today’s feature-rich qbank platforms allow you to take notes inside the software, which is an excellent way to help keep your train of thought on the tracks when you come back to a piece of information inside the software later. Taking notes on a separate notebook or in a word processor at the same time can also be beneficial for many students, as well – especially if those notes cover topics that are difficult to comprehend.

Notetaking has been one of the most popular methods for capturing information for decades, and it’s still a popular study tool today, as well. Though the tools students use to take those notes change, and though the sources of information they take notes on evolve, the simplicity of it remains the same.

Time-Tested Methods Medical Students Should Try for Memorization

Medical Students Memory

As a medical student, your studies are an eclectic mix of broad topics that require plenty of critical thinking and research as well as narrower topics that require intensive memorization. If you struggle to memorize things, you certainly aren’t alone. Below, you can discover some of the best and most trusted methods out there for memorizing information that is otherwise difficult to retain.

Practice the Content Over and Over

Memorization is like any other form of learning in that it’s all about training your brain to hold onto information and recall information when you need it. With that being said, most students find that simply repeating the information in their studies over and over again is the best way for them to commit it to memory. One of the most effective methods for this involves utilizing a customizable question bank platform that allows you to create a study session with only the information you need to memorize. Over time, the more you go through the questions, the more information you’ll be able to retain and recall.

Start Small and Work Your Way Up

There’s a pretty good chance that you won’t be able to memorize the name of every single part of the human anatomy in a week, but you certainly can break that anatomy down into chunks and memorize it one small piece at a time. For example, imagine for a moment that you need to memorize the names and locations of 40 bones in a period of two weeks. On the first day, you can start out with a total of five bones and memorize those. The next day, add in four or five more, but continue to study the previous ones, too. Over time, you’ll find that adding in new information slowly is a great method, especially when you continue to review the old information day after day at the same time.

Write Things Down or Say Them Out Loud – or Both

Most students fall into one of two categories when it comes to memorizing things. The first category consists of students who do best when they can visually see the information on a page, and the second consists of students who can audibly hear the information being spoken. As such, depending on the method that works best for you, make sure that you’re taking extensive notes or audibly repeating the information you need to study over and over again. If you aren’t sure which method works best for you, try both – repeat the information out loud as you write it. Assigning an action or sound to each piece of information is a great way to commit it to memory.

Memorization can be tricky, and that’s especially true in medical school where so much of your career will rely on your ability to memorize everything from the names of medications to the location of even the tiniest bones in the human body. However, with some time and effort – and by following some of the tips above – you’ll find that memorization starts to come more naturally over time.

 

5 Tips for Answering Difficult Multiple Choice Questions in Your QBanks and on Your Exams

medical-students

In most of the world’s biggest medical licensing exams, multiple choice questions (MCQs) will make up the bulk of the questions you’ll answer. Fortunately, quality qbanks provide you with thousands of practice MCQs that can help you test your knowledge and prepare yourself for your exams. Below, you’ll find the top five tips for answering the most difficult MCQs in your qbanks or on your exams.

#1 – Read the Question at Least Two Times

The very first step in getting the correct answer on a difficult MCQ involves carefully reading the question and then re-reading it (sometimes several times) to ensure that you have the correct information. With many MCQs, overlooking a single word can completely change the context of the question, which can lead you to an incorrect answer. When you take the time to ensure you understand exactly what you’re being asked, you will have much better odds of answering it correctly.

#2 – Don’t Choose the First Answer that Seems Correct

Just as you took the time to carefully read the question, you should apply that same strategy to the answers. All too often, students choose the first answer in the list that seems to make sense rather than reviewing each of the possible answers carefully and choosing the correct one. Before you commit to an answer, read every possible answer and choose the one that best fits the question.

#3 – Rule Out the Incorrect Answers

If you’ve read both the question and its answers carefully but you still can’t seem to find the correct answer, you can start by ruling out any answers that you know are incorrect. Simply mark those answers off the list of choices and then focus on the ones that you have left. When you have fewer possibilities in front of you, your mind has far less information to sift through.

#4 – Skip the Questions You Don’t Know

If you’re taking your actual exam – or if you’re engaged in a timed study session in your qbank software – and you come across a question that you simply cannot answer, skip it for the time being and move on to a different question. There are two benefits in doing so. First, you won’t run out of time to answer the questions that you do know the answers to. Second, many students find that if they simply skip over difficult questions, they’ll often remember the correct answer a little later in the study session or exam. If you’re using a qbank platform, you can even leave yourself a note so that when you come back to the question, you’ll see your original train of thought.

#5 – Educated Guesses

If despite all these tips you still cannot seem to come up with the correct answer to a particularly difficult MCQ in your qbank or on your exam and your time is counting down, it’s always better to make an educated guess than to fail to answer the question altogether. If there are five possible correct answers but you don’t choose one of them, you have a zero percent chance of getting it right. On the other hand, if you choose an answer – any answer – at random, you’ve increased the odds of getting it right to 20%.

What Are the Hardest USMLE Topics to Study and Learn?

USMLE Step 2 Test Prep

The United States Medical Licensing Exam, known as the USMLE or simply “board exam,” is by far one of the most difficult examinations in existence today. It covers several years’ worth of highly complex information that you must know in order to become licensed in your field. The following USMLE topics are widely regarded as the most difficult, so familiarize yourself with them early on and perhaps give them some special attention, too. 

Biochemistry 

Biochemistry is truly a paradox among medical students. It’s absolutely fascinating to explore the various chemical processes that keep human beings alive, but as part of gaining a firm understanding of the subject, there’s a lot – a lot – of memorization involved. You’ll find yourself learning about metabolic pathways, enzyme design and structure, and much, much more, so without a solid understanding of terms and their meanings, it’s difficult to understand much of anything. The sheer complexity of biochemistry makes it the most difficult topic on the USMLE according to the majority of medical students. 

Many doctors (who were once in your shoes) recommend that you take the time to study up on the basics of biochemistry whenever you have a chance. Simply understanding basic terms and processes will make everything to come much simpler for you. 

Microbiology

Medical students also agree that microbiology is the second most difficult topic you’ll find on your USMLE. In fact, it’s difficult for many of the same reasons as biochemistry. It’s the study of all living organisms that are small enough to require a microscope to see them, and that encompasses thousands upon thousands – even millions – of different organisms. The volume of information that students must retain in order to understand even the simplest concepts in microbiology is staggering. 

Getting a head start on microbiology basics (much like doing the same for biochemistry) can benefit you here, as well. The more of the basic concepts you learn now, the easier it will be for you to learn the more complex ones down the line. 

Pathology

Though it isn’t quite as difficult as microbiology or biochemistry, the topic of pathology presents challenges to most medical students at some point in their education. Pathology is a bridge between science and medicine, and to put it as simply as possible, it’s the study of diseases. There are more than 100,000 identified diseases across the globe, so it’s easy to see why so many students struggle with this particular topic. Fortunately, medical students also tend to find pathology interesting, which can make things a bit simpler. 

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a difficult pathology course involves reading your course syllabus and obtaining as much of the recommended material as you can early on. The more you can read and understand about pathology before your course even starts, the more the lectures, your textbook,  and other materials will make sense. 

Biochemistry, microbiology, and pathology are the three most difficult topics on the USMLE according to medical students from around the world. In all three cases, the complexity lies almost solely in the volume of information you’ll need to retain and very little on actual comprehension issues. As such, start studying these topics as soon as you can and consider scheduling some extra study time for them as needed, too.

How to Take Effective and Structured Lecture Notes

Pre Med Students

Lectures in medical school can range from incredibly interesting (and even fun!) to monotonous, boring, and difficult to understand. Note-taking is one of the best ways to keep yourself engaged in the lecture and ensure that you are getting all the knowledge you need for later study and review. Below are some tips for creating effective, structured notes that will serve as a solid study tool for the entirety of your school years. 

Start with the Right Supplies 

Before you go to your lecture, make sure you have all the tools you need to take notes for the duration. At the very least, you will need paper and a pencil or pen, but there are a few specific things you can use to make sure the end result is a structured, easy-to-read study tool. Some recommendations include:

 

  • College-ruled or graph-ruled paper. In medical school lectures, you’ll be given a lot of information in a very short period of time, so you’ll find yourself writing a lot. Using college ruled paper – or even graphing paper – will provide you with ample space to capture more information on a single sheet. Graphing paper is also excellent for creating structure in your notes so that they are more aesthetic and easy to read later. 
  • Colored pens or highlighters. Though any pen or pencil will certainly do in a pinch, investing in a set of colored pens or even colored highlighters can help you create structured lecture notes in which each topic is easily discernible at a glance. You can highlight or write your major topics in one color, then highlight your subtopics in another, and then use another color to highlight definitions, for example. 
  • Notebooks, divided binders, and/or folders. Now that you have the tools you need to take your notes, you’ll need a way to organize them. Options include utilizing a different notebook for each course, purchasing a specific folder for each course, or even utilizing a divided binder. The latter option is often the simplest as you can carry everything with you to every lecture and never find yourself without the proper folder or notebook. 

 

What Should You Write?

If you’re not lucky enough to have a professor who either writes notes as he or she lectures or maybe tells you what you should write down, note-taking can get a bit confusing, to say the least. You certainly can’t write everything down, so here are some tips for taking notes that you can actually use later. 

 

  • Listen carefully and use a voice recorder. No matter how hard you try, capturing everything your professor says is going to be a serious challenge. A voice recorder will come in very handy since you can go back and listen to the lecture as many times as is necessary. During the live lecture, if you don’t have time to write out important information, make a note reminding yourself to go back and listen to that part of your recording again later. 
  • Document things that you don’t already know. There’s not much point to taking notes on things you already know and feel comfortable with, so listen closely for terms, words, subjects, and topics that are new to you or difficult to understand and take notes on those. If they tie into information you already know, be sure to jot down how so that you can get a better understanding later. 
  • Annotate your textbook. Simply using a highlighter, pen, or even a pencil to annotate right inside your textbook is much quicker than rewriting sentences and phrases, but before you do this, consider whether you’re planning to sell your textbook – or even whether you’re using a rented one. Marking in textbooks will reduce their resale value.

 

Finally, another option that can help you (and other students in the lecture) a great deal involves creating a study group or meetup after the lecture to share notes and discuss the topics that were presented. The new perspectives are important for learning about new material, and everyone can benefit from seeing someone else’s notes from the same lecture. 

Feeling Unmotivated to Study? Try These 5 Things

Top 10 Medical Schools in the US

For most students around the world, winter can be a real struggle when it comes to motivating yourself to study. Between the cold temperatures and the short hours of real daylight, the season can really take a toll on your motivation. If this sounds familiar, there are some things you can do that can provide that extra boost of productivity when you need it the most. 

#1 – Get Daylight Bulbs

You probably already know as a medical student that there’s absolutely nothing that can take the place of real sunlight, but daylight bulbs are as close as it gets. If you’re finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning because it’s still dark, or if you’re struggling to stay awake past 6 in the evening because it’s already dark, installing a few daylight bulbs can really help. If you opt for smart bulbs, you can connect them to an app on your phone or tablet and then program them to come on and turn off at the times you choose. Essentially, you get to simulate the sunrise and sunset on your terms. 

#2 – The Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro study method was developed to help students stay motivated and focused while they work. It’s basically a process that involves studying for 25 minutes, then taking a five-minute break, then studying for another 25 minutes and so on. All you need for this one is a timer and a small reward that you can look forward to during each five-minute break.

#3 – The Forest App

The Forest app is based on the principle of the Pomodoro method, but it builds upon it to turn focusing into a game. The framework of the app is an adjustable Pomodoro timer that allows you to choose the length of your study sessions and break sessions according to your personal needs. Before you get started, you’ll need to choose one of the dozens of cute “trees” you can grow during your study session and add to your Forest. The best part? If you turn it on, there’s a feature that will wither your tree if you access anything other than the Forest app on your phone! 

#4 – Music

Of all the different ways to motivate yourself to study, turning on some music is by far the simplest – especially with all the free streaming services out there. It’s important to choose music intended to help you focus rather than distract you, and that’s where Spotify comes in. Simply search for “study music” and you’ll find hundreds of different playlists curated by other students. Aside from this, you can build your own playlists with any songs and genres that help you focus. Some of the best options include lo-fi, classical, and soft instrumental. 

#5 – Reward Yourself

Most students feel more compelled to do things they really don’t want to do when they know there’s a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow. Start on Sunday evening with a piece of paper and make a list of everything you want to accomplish study-wise in the upcoming week. Then, break that down into smaller chunks spread over seven days. Write each day’s goals in your planner, then decide how you will reward yourself if you fulfill your goals for the week. Make sure it’s something you really love and make sure that the goals you set for yourself are challenging, but not out of reach. 

Millions of students worldwide dread studying at some point or another, whether it’s out of boredom, burnout, frustration, or something else entirely. However, with the right music, the right lighting, and the right technology, it’s entirely possible to find your motivation – especially if there’s a reward waiting for you once a week when you’ve met your goals.

Can Question Banks Help You Get More out of Your Lectures?

college-lecture-question-banks

Medical students attend hundreds of lectures during their school years, but many of them struggle to truly understand the topics being presented. If you’re not an auditory learner, then this may sound familiar to you. Fortunately, there are several resources available to help you get more out of your lectures, and online question bank software is one of the best. 

What is an Online Question Bank?

Question banks, often referred to as “qbanks” by students, are software platforms that offer you numerous multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and more to help you adequately prepare for your medical licensing exam. When choosing an online question bank platform, look for the following:

 

  • The number of MCQs. The more MCQs the software contains, the more topics and subtopics they will cover. In this case, aim for a platform that offers you thousands of questions in all the major topics you’ll find on your exam. 
  • The quality of the MCQs. Not all multiple-choice questions are created equal, and some are certainly better than others. Make sure the questions were all written by actual medical professionals for the best possible results. 
  • Study features. Finally, if you want to get more out of your lectures with the help of a question bank, make sure your chosen software offers study features. Some of the best include “tutor mode,” which allows you to learn at your own pace, as well as the ability to take your own notes and attach them to individual questions for later study. 

 

How to Use a QBank to Enhance Lectures

Now that you know what a question bank can do for you as a medical student, it’s important to understand some of the best ways to utilize it specifically for your lectures. There are two methods, and you can choose to utilize just one of them or both alongside numerous other tips for better recall and comprehension. 

 

  • Pre-lecture preparation.  Many medical students find it helpful to take some time to prepare for lectures by reading their textbooks and reviewing their course materials. Believe it or not, medical qbanks can be a great preparation tool, too. Create a mock exam or tutoring session with only questions relating to the topic that will be presented in your lecture and see how much of the material you already know. Then, go back to the questions you missed, read the answers and explanations, and do a little research on the things that stand out to you. 
  • Post-lecture review. You might also choose to use a question bank to review the material that was presented to you during your lecture. The method is the same; create a mock exam or tutoring session containing MCQs on the lecture topic, answer the questions, and then review your answers. 

 

Many students find it interesting to use the online question bank software for both pre-lecture preparation and post-lecture review. Later, they can compare the results of the two sessions and truly gauge their learning. 

Online question bank platforms are by far one of the most flexible and useful tools out there for preparing for your medical licensing exams. They’re far more than just mock exams, though – they’re perfect for studying, tracking your progress, and even preparing for and reviewing your lectures.

What Should You Do if You Just Don’t Understand a Topic No Matter How Hard You Try?

medical student studying

Every single medical student in the history of modern medicine has struggled with at least one topic during their many years of education. Though it may feel frustrating – and in some cases, you might think it’s impossible to learn – there are a few helpful things you can do to reinforce those tricky topics during your study sessions and put you on a path to mastery.

Look Through the Professor’s Recommended Texts

Sometimes, and especially in medical school, the professor for a specific course will include a list of recommended texts on the course syllabus, even if he or she doesn’t teach from or even mention those texts during lectures. If you’re struggling to grasp a concept or topic, pull up your course syllabus and look for those various materials. You might be able to find various online tools or resources that you can use to gain a better overall understanding.

Re-Watch Lectures (or Find Alternative Lectures Online)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many professors are lecturing their classrooms virtually. It’s highly likely that somewhere amongst your resources, you’ll be able to find recordings of all the lectures from your course, and these can be wonderful tools. You can even search for lectures from other professors (or even other universities) online. Sometimes in order to grasp a concept, you need to hear it from more than one angle. Recorded lectures can help you do this.

Email Your Professor(s)

If your syllabus or the texts it references aren’t of much help to you and you’re still struggling to understand a topic, reach out to your professor in an email. He or she may schedule a phone call or video meeting with you, or your professor may be able to point you toward some texts or resources that will help you get a better grasp of the topic’s foundations. Working your way up from the simplest concepts is the best route, and your professor can help you do just that.

Access a Question Bank

Believe it or not, question banks are wonderful tools for students who are struggling to grasp certain concepts or topics in their studies. Before choosing one, take a look at the various features it offers. The goal is to ensure that the software allows you to customize your experience so that you can focus your studies on the topic or topics that give you the most trouble. Even better, that software should also give you answers to questions you miss along with a detailed explanation, references, and a place to take your own notes.

Utilize Your Course Forums & Discussion Boards

Course forums and discussion boards have been important tools for students for many years – even long before COVID-19. They allow students to discuss topics amongst themselves and help one another in a virtual sense, which is important in today’s world. Simply search the forums for posts about the topic you’re struggling with, and if not, create a post to ask for help. Be specific about your needs so that the right people can provide you with the information you need and be sure to cross-check any facts provided to you with internet searches.

It’s easy to feel frustrated or defeated when you find yourself stuck on a difficult topic during your medical studies, but fortunately, there’s no hurdle that a determined student can’t overcome. Use all the resources that are available to you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

 

How Social Media is Changing the Way Medical Students Study

social-media-studying

Just a few short decades ago, medical students had only a handful of ways to study their materials. They sat in classroom lectures, went to the library, studied on their own at home, or met up in a coffee shop to discuss the topics at hand. In today’s world, there are dozens of options out there – and social media is a key player. Here’s how social media is changing the way medical students around the world are studying.

Integration into Online Courses

Students choose to take their courses online for a variety of reasons. Some need the flexibility that online courses can provide, especially if they have families or their jobs make it difficult to attend lectures in real time. With the COVID-19 pandemic, some universities are closed for in-person instruction and are instead reliant on virtual learning. In many cases – and in many courses – professors rely on social media as a tool to keep their classes connected. In fact, many create Facebook groups designed for a specific course and then use them to start discussions. It’s a wonderful tool that helps medical students study more effectively.

Virtual Study Groups

Another way in which social media is changing the way medical students prepare for their exams has to do with study groups. Despite social distancing guidelines and restrictions around the world, students are utilizing social media platforms to group virtually for meaningful and helpful discussions. Facebook Rooms, which is available through the social media giant’s Messenger app, is a popular hub for these groups. It allows students to see one another in real time, which is the next best thing to an actual group.

Round-the-Clock Access to Help

Study groups are important because each member of the group has a specific set of topics they understand well – and perhaps even a topic or two that they don’t. When all of these students get together in one virtual place, they can draw on one another’s knowledge to learn in a way that lectures and reading simply can’t provide. Social media platforms give groups of students the ability to form personalized chat groups so that they can ask questions around the clock and receive answers as the other members have time.

Recommendations & More

If you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, there’s a good chance you’ll use one of several social media sites to ask your friends what they would recommend, then simply wait for some enticing answers. This works the same way when it comes to studying for medical exams. Via social media, medical students can ask questions of specific groups of friends and receive numerous answers. These questions might include, “What time is the virtual lecture?” or even, “Where can I find a specific textbook?”

Simply put, social media is a wonderful resource for not only staying in touch with friends, families, and colleagues, but also for studying and getting the most out of your medical school experience. Whether it’s a specific group put together for an online course or a place to ask your fellow students which resource or text they would recommend, every student can benefit from social media as long as they use it responsibly.

Digital vs. Handwritten Notes: Which Works Best?

digital-vs-handwritten

As a medical student, you’re more than likely aware of the importance of taking notes during lectures and as you read your course texts. Deciding whether to take digital notes or handwritten ones is personal, and each can be equally effective depending on your individual needs. Below, you can learn more about the pros and cons of digital versus handwritten notes so that you can use the system that best helps you succeed.

Handwritten Notes

Writing out notes by hand is still the most popular system among students. It requires only a pen or pencil and paper, which are easily obtainable – even at a corner convenience store. In some cases, you may choose to annotate your textbooks, which is a secondary means of writing notes. It involves listening to the lecturer speak or reading a paragraph in your text, then making a note of the most important concepts that you will need to know for your clinicals or your exams.

The downfalls associated with handwritten notes are very few. For some students, though, these downfalls make handwritten notes impractical. They include:

  • The need to store piles and piles of notebooks. When you’re studying for your licensing or placement exam, you will need every single note you take to serve as a study tool. If you’re taking good notes, then they are also thorough and cover a variety of topics and information. Unfortunately, in order to continue to study these notes, you’ll need to keep them – and that means piles of notebooks in your dorm, apartment, or room.
  • Inability to write fast enough. Many students who take handwritten notes attest that learning basic shorthand is essential, especially in medical school since there are so many facts and figures to remember. Those who don’t know shorthand often struggle to write fast enough to keep up with lecturers.
  • Illegibility or disorganization. If your handwriting isn’t the greatest, then there’s always the concern that you’ll pull one of your notebooks out of the pile only to discover that you can’t make out what you wrote. Along those same lines, if you failed to organize your notes in a cohesive way, you might have to spend hours digging through pages and pages of terms to find the topic you need to study.

Digital Notes

Digital notetaking makes up for many of the downfalls associated with writing them by hand. You can save all your data in the cloud, which means all you really need is a tablet or laptop – or maybe even your phone. Most people can type much faster than they can write, too, which means any device with a keyboard will allow you to get your thoughts down quickly. Finally, you can arrange your notes into folders by date, topic, or any other criteria, and you can search every single document for specific terms, too.

For most medical students, as long as they have the laptop or tablet that allows for digital notetaking, there are no real pitfalls – especially if they back up their notes to the cloud regularly. However, studies have found that students who handwrite their notes tend to recall more information than students who type them, so keep this in mind. A way to circumvent this involves using one of numerous handwriting apps on your iPad or convertible laptop so that you can get the best of both worlds.