Want to Really Remember That Lecture? Here are 5 Ways to Absorb More Info in the Classroom

medical-student-classroom

Medical students spend years of their lives devouring and digesting information coming at them from numerous sources. Of all these sources, most students agree that lectures present the most problems. Below are five helpful ways to really get the most out of your lectures and absorb more information from them, thereby improving your studies and your ability to succeed.

#1 – Read to Prepare for the Lecture

One of the absolute best things you can do to prepare for a lecture involves reading the material assigned to you prior to entering the classroom, even if the reading is technically assigned after the lecture. There are a few reasons for this, but for some students, the simple act of quickly reading over the topic that will be covered is enough to help them better comprehend what their professor is saying during the lecture. You don’t have to read every page but do take the time to skim the headings and get a feel for what the talk will be about.

#2 – Take the Correct Notes

Taking notes during a lecture is critical, but in medical school with professors providing new information with every sentence, it can be difficult to know what to write and what to let go. If you’ve prepared for your lecture in step 1, then you should already know a little about the discussion. When you write things down, write quickly and use abbreviations that you can understand. Write only the concepts that are new to you to save time and space in your notes, and if at all possible, make a note of the corresponding textbook section to go along with it for better studying later. This method is excellent for kinesthetic learners.

#3 – Record the Lecture

Sometimes no matter what you do, your professor will throw so much information at you so quickly that you simply cannot write it all down. This is not a new phenomenon, and it is exactly why most university bookstores sell handheld audio recorders – so you can record your lectures and listen to them again later. A good rule of thumb involves stocking up on storage space so that you can keep your lectures for the entirety of each course and use them as review material for midterms and finals as needed. If you’re an auditory learner, this is one of the best things you can do.

#4 – Practice the Topic on Your Time

When the lecture is over and you are about to start your study session, pull up your online question bank and filter the topics until you have only the topics you learned in your lecture selected. Go through these practice questions several times; then, go back through the questions you missed and utilize all the resources available to you – your textbook, your lecture recording, the notes you took, YouTube, and even your study group – to revise and learn. This by far one of the best things you can do for yourself.

 #5 – Study with the Forgetting Curve in Mind

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve is a mathematical formula developed in 1885 that describes the rate at which we forget newly-learned information if we don’t actively try to retain it. Unless you take the time to review material regularly, it will be lost in a matter of days, and there are studies suggesting that we forget about 50% of what we learn in the first hour after learning it – and that climbs to 70% in the first day. Fortunately, with so many excellent study tools on your hands and the ability to customize your mock tests, it’s possible to stay ahead of the forgetting curve and retain far, far more.

 

Timed vs. Tutor Mode: Which Option is Best for You?

medical student tutor

CanadaQBank’s amazing platform gives medical and engineering students access to thousands of expertly-written questions for numerous exams, allowing them the opportunity to study at their own pace and on their own time any way they choose. The software also offers both timed and tutor modes, both of which offer unique benefits. Learn more about each one below so you can determine which mode is right for you.

Timed Mode

With timed mode, you are given a very specific amount of time to answer various questions from the topics you choose. This can really put the pressure on and make it feel as if you are taking the real exam. If you want to see how you can perform under pressure, then timed mode is the best choice. Just select it from the “Create Test” tab of the software and get started. When you finish, you can not only see the number of questions you answered correctly, but you can also compare your performance with the performance of others using the same question banks.

Tutor Mode

You can also choose tutor mode for a more laid-back study session that gives you ample opportunity to think about questions, look up information, or simply take a break if you need to do so. Tutor mode is ideal for taking notes as you go through the topics you choose, and if you miss a question, the tutor mode will show you the correct answer and explain to you why that answer is the right one. It is truly the only software of its kind, and it provides students with one of the most valuable study tools in their arsenal.

Master One Topic at a Time

Medical licensing and placement exams are packed with questions and topics that often leave students feeling incredibly overwhelmed. Only CanadaQBank offers the Study Topic feature, which allows you to choose a topic within your examination to focus on for as long as you would like. For the MCCEE, for example, you can first choose a broader subject, such as medicine, and then choose a narrow topic, such as alcohol abuse indicators or acute angle closure glaucoma. This allows you to reinforce topics you have already learned, but it gives you an even better opportunity to study topics that you may be struggling with.

Available by Subscription

If you are interested in trying CanadaQBank’s software for your medical or engineering exam, you won’t have to pay an exorbitant upfront fee to get started. In fact, you can pay a low monthly subscription fee specifically designed to meet the average student’s budget, and there are no long-term contracts. Just create your account by entering your email, name, location, and level of training, then follow the directions on the screen.

Licensing and placement tests are undeniably tough, and studying for them may leave you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to you. CanadaQBank allows you to slow things down to your own pace with its timed and tutor modes, and you can even master one topic at a time as you see fit.

Study Skills for Med Students: The Benefits of Annotating Your Textbook

annotating text book

By now, you’ve probably heard enough about study skills to make your head spin but depending on where you are in your medical school career, you may still be searching for the best techniques for you. One such technique – and one that surprisingly few medical students utilize – involves annotating your textbook. Here’s what you need to know about incorporating annotation into your next study session.

What is Annotation?

Annotation is the act of highlighting important terms and sentences and taking notes as you read through your textbook. Some students highlight and write directly in the physical textbook, but others, hoping to resell the textbook later, choose to use a piece of paper or sticky notes inside the book, instead. Annotation is a great way for you to combine information from lectures and other sources with the information in your textbook to provide a well-rounded and thorough study guide.

How Should You Annotate?

It’s easy to get carried away when you annotate because everything in a medical textbook seems incredibly important. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips you can follow to help you start annotating like a pro:

  • Skim the reading assignment in its entirety first. Don’t touch the pen, pencil, or highlighter yet. Just skim the text, paying special attention to subheadings, diagrams, and summaries.
  • Pick up a highlighter and find the main point of the first paragraph. You don’t have to read it word-for-word; a quick skim will do. Highlight the paragraph’s main topic (or, if you don’t want to write in your book, use a sticky flag with a number on it, then on a separate piece of paper, write the corresponding number and the passage that constitutes the paragraph’s main topic.
  • Look for important supporting details. Now that you have the main topic, look for any supporting details. For instance, if you’re learning about diabetes, and that is the main topic of the paragraph, you may need to know that insulin is a common treatment. Using the same highlighter, underline only important information that supports the main topic of the paragraph.
  • Highlight key words in a separate color. If you come across important terms or vocabulary words that are unfamiliar to you, highlight these in another color. Then, to help you remember them, write the terms and their definitions on a separate sheet of paper – or, better still, put each one on an index card with the term on the front and its definition on the back.

How to Use Your Annotated Textbook

By the time you’ve annotated all your reading assignments, you should be able to open your textbook to a specific chapter and point out every single main topic, which is ultimately the perfect study guide for that chapter. To study it, if your textbook has review questions at the end of each topic or chapter, try your best to answer them and refer to your highlights as needed to help. Make a note of the topics you struggle with, then pull those topics up in your question bank to continue to actively challenge yourself. This mix of active and passive learning is ideal for most students.

Annotating your textbook is a quick way to get the most out of your reading assignments without having to read and re-read every word of every chapter. Not only can it help you commit things to memory when it is done correctly, but it can also serve as a very good study guide for quizzes and exams.

 

How to Get the Most out of Online Medical School Courses

Online Medical Course

Medical school is a hands-on learning experience, but in today’s busy world, many schools make some courses available to you 100% online. Below, you can learn more about this online coursework and whether or not it is right for you, and you can even discover some helpful tips on getting the most out of it, too. You’ll also learn you can prepare for your medical exams with online courses.

What Kinds of Courses Can You Take Online?

If your course requires hands-on participation, then you probably won’t find an online version. However, for certain others – things like psychology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and others – you may be given the option to study at home. Not every medical school has this option, and this option isn’t right for every single student. These are tough courses, and many students find that they’re even tougher when they do not have access to live lectures and other activities that reinforce the topics.

Important Pros and Cons

Online courses are beneficial for busy students who need the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Most schools offer access to lectures – both live via video and prerecorded – as well as the same assignments as your on-campus peers. However, there are some disadvantages, too. You won’t be near your peers for your classes, and you’ll need to be able to motivate yourself to not only study, but actually teach yourself the concepts. Online courses may not be the best idea for students who tend to procrastinate or who have trouble motivating themselves.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Online Courses

If you determine that online courses are best for your busy life, there are a few things you can do to maximize your learning potential.

  • Attend live lectures whenever you can. If the professor streams his or her lecture, try to be there to watch. Sometimes, a teacher’s aid will moderate comments from distance learners, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions like you would if you were actually seated in the classroom.
  • Use discussion boards. Discussion boards are fantastic for interacting with your peers, getting help with tough topics, asking tough questions, and perhaps even putting together study groups for particular topics. In fact, in many online courses, discussion board participation is a graded requirement.
  • Use the Pomodoro method. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, and that’s because it’s a study method that was originally adapted from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Simply put, study for 20 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Then study for 25 minutes and take a five-minute break. Gradually increase the length of time you study with each session, and for every 30 minutes you add to your sessions, add another five minutes to your break.
  • Take it seriously. If there’s one piece of advice that really matters, it’s the fact that you should take your online courses just as seriously as the rest. Just because you aren’t traveling to campus, that doesn’t mean you should put in less effort. Watch the lecture videos and take notes as if you were there. Make flash cards, find a study group, and use your question bank software to help you learn the tougher topics, too.

Online courses for medical students can be a blessing or a curse, but this depends primarily on the student. As long as you are motivated and willing to go the extra mile, you can use online courses to your advantage and gain the same amount of knowledge as you would in the classroom.

How Many Times Should You Take a Mock Licensing Exam Before the Real Thing?

mock medical exam

Preparing for a medical licensing exam can be grueling, and it might seem like no matter what you do, there are some topics that you just can’t seem to commit to memory. Active learning is by far the best way to overcome the challenges associated with tricky topics, and that’s exactly where question banks and mock exams come in. How many times should you take a mock licensing exam for the MCCQE or other test before you take the real thing? The answer may surprise you!

What is Active Learning?

There are two types of learning: active and passive. Active learning involves actively recalling information whereas passive learning involves something like reading or highlighting – passive steps you take to attempt to commit the information to memory. When you take mock exams, these are a form of active learning. Rather than having the answers right in front of you to read, you must actively use your brain to come up with the answer. Numerous studies have shown that active learning is far superior to passive learning when it comes to both memorization and overall comprehension.

Getting the Most out of Mock Exams

Before sitting down to spend hours answering questions, make sure that you’re using the right tools for your mock exams. Not all question banks are the same, and some afford you very little in the way of actual help. Look for a variety of features, which include things like different modes that you can use to help you learn the material. You should also have the ability to separate questions that you struggle with so that you can easily find them later and practice them until they are second nature. Ideally, you should be able to make your own notes for individual questions, and if you miss a question, you should be able to see some feedback and an explanation.

How Many Times Should You Take a Mock Exam?

The number of times that you will need to take a mock exam before you take the real licensing exam will vary, but the absolute best advice is to continue to take the practice tests until you are 100% confident that you have mastered the material. With CanadaQBank, it’s easy to do. You can build your mock exams around the topics you’ve learned by simply choosing which topics the software will pull questions from. Each time a new topic is introduced, add it to your list, and go through the questions a couple times a week. This way, you can be sure that you are constantly reviewing old material even as you are introducing the new.

There’s no one right way to take a mock exam, and there’s no one strategy that serves as a cookie-cutter solution for all medical students. Nevertheless, by following the advice here and doing your very best to review things you’ve learned in the past and things you’ve learned more frequently – and doing so at least twice a week – you will have a much better chance to retain more information that will benefit you when you take your real licensing exam.

Here’s How Medical Students Take Functional and Aesthetic Notes

medical students studying

In most classrooms, there are two kinds of students. One group takes very few notes (if any at all), and the other takes detailed, yet still functional and surprisingly aesthetic notes that serve as amazing study guides later. If you’re the first student but you’d rather develop awesome note-taking and study habits like the second, the following information is for you.

Get Inspired

taking notes doesn’t work well for everyone, it does work especially well for kinesthetic and visual learners. Kinesthetic learners tend to absorb more information by doing whereas visual students learn best by seeing. In either case, taking clean, aesthetic notes – perhaps even with a little color and flair – can really go a long way toward reinforcing tough information. To see some of the absolute best functional and aesthetic note-taking examples and get some inspiration, visit the #studygram hashtag on Instagram or search for “aesthetic notes” on Pinterest.

Don’t Use Too Much Color

It can be tempting to break out seven differently-colored highlighters and start marking up your notes, but there’s evidence to suggest that sticking to just one or two colors is best. Anything more can be too distracting, and it can even take away from your ability to absorb the information. Ideally, write your notes in blue or black ink, then use one or two highlighters to mark up what you’ve written. You could highlight headings in one color, underline subheadings in the same color, and then highlight key terms in the second color. This process is incredibly easy and functional, and when it comes time to study from your notes later, skimming for the right topic is a breeze.

Don’t Write Everything Down

There are two main reasons why people take notes.

  • To help get the information to stick. For kinesthetic (and some visual) learners, taking notes is one of the best ways to initially learn new information.
  • To have a customized study guide for midterms and finals. Every medical student can benefit from this. Essentially, if you take good notes and you keep them organized throughout your course, by the time you’re ready to study for a final exam or even your licensing exam, you have organized data that is personalized to your unique needs available to you.

No matter what your reason for taking notes might be, there’s one rule of thumb to follow: only write things down if you know you need to study them. If the information being discussed in the lecture or in the text is already familiar to you and you can recall it with ease, there’s no need to write it down. Save your paper (or tablet, or hard drive) real estate for concepts that you still need to work on.

These three tips can truly help you improve your note-taking skills, which can help you become a better student in turn. Though the aesthetics aren’t truly necessary, they can help to inspire you to get started. If you can keep your notes neat and clean, and if you can write down only the things that are important to you, you will be glad you did when it comes time to take your exam.

 

 

Why So Many Medical Students are Terrified of their Board Exams

USMLE Step 2 Test Prep

Medical students experience myriad emotions during their time in school. These range from sheer exhaustion and apprehension to outright fear of failure. The driving force behind fear, at least for many students, is the board exams – the very exams that provide you with the licensure you need to put medical school behind you and step out into the world as a physician. Here’s what all medical students should know about overcoming the fear of failure.

The Problems with Fear

Some fear throughout your life is perfectly normal, and in many cases, it’s even beneficial. According to an article in Psychology Today, fear is necessary for keeping you safe, but too much of it can be incredibly counterproductive. In some cases, medical students experience such fear and dread surrounding their board exams that they simply cannot study effectively, and then when exam day comes, they stare blankly at their screens, paralyzed by the fear that they will not succeed.

Why the Boards Cause Fear

The boards induce stress in medical students for a variety of reasons, but stress seems to be the most common. The boards are the culmination of years of studying, years of sleepless nights, and in many cases, years of social life put on hold to prepare for a future in medicine. In some cases, students’ parents or guardians mortgage their homes or take out massive loans to finance their educations, so the fear of letting down their loved ones is also very real. Finally, there’s a fear that failure will prove students inadequate; if they cannot pass the licensing exam, perhaps they were not meant to be doctors after all. These fears can all be overcome.

How to Put the Fear Behind You

Every medical student experiences some degree of fear related to the medical licensing exam, but the good news is that there are several ways in which you can overcome it and succeed.

  • Study Often and Effectively – Whether you choose to utilize textbooks, printed materials, your own notes, or question bank software, make sure that you’re studying as much as possible, and make sure that you are utilizing different study methods to help ensure comprehension.
  • Eat and Stay Hydrated – Believe it or not, a poor diet and lack of hydration can not only make it more difficult for you to comprehend and retain information, but it can also exacerbate feelings of fear. Eat a healthy mix of proteins, complex carbs, and good-for-you fats, and make sure you’re getting your 64oz (or more!) of water each day.
  • Learn Self-Calming and Relaxation Techniques – Finally, you can actually train yourself to respond to fear in a better and more productive way through deep breathing exercises, meditation or prayer, and even progressive muscle relaxation techniques. The more you practice these, the simpler they become, and eventually you will find yourself able to relax in even the most stressful of situations.

Fear is not your enemy. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal response to stress and danger that could very well save your life at some point. It is also perfectly normal to experience some fear and apprehension related to your board exams, but it is critical that you learn to overcome it. Preparing yourself for your exams, keeping your body healthy, and learning how to relax in the face of fear can help you do just that.

 

How to Stay Motivated to Study Despite Shorter Days and Colder Weather

winter-studying

With the end of daylight savings time comes shorter days and colder weather, and that means even the most ambitious students could find themselves struggling to stay motivated. Some studies suggest that 10% to 20% of the population suffers from some sort of winter depression. Fortunately, there are a few ways for students to keep themselves motivated.

Consider Using a Light Box

Light boxes are commonly used among people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD – a condition that causes mild to severe depression that sets in like clockwork almost every single fall or winter. Even if you do not have SAD, when it gets dark outside at five o’clock in the afternoon, and when the sun doesn’t come back until seven in the morning, it can be difficult to do anything except yawn. A light box is designed to mimic the sun with a bright, warm light. If you choose to go this route, use it for about an hour, and ideally before 10 in the morning.

Get Some Sunshine

When it feels as if you’re spending all your time studying and trying to find time to sleep and eat, getting outside everyday may seem like a challenge. What’s more, experts have shown us that anyone living north of Atlanta simply cannot get their daily dose of vitamin D from the sun in the winter months because the sun simply doesn’t climb high enough in the sky. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside at all, though; spending 15 to 30 minutes outside in the sun – or even going out when it’s overcast – can help you feel much better.

Modify Your Diet

Eating enough as a medical student can be tough, and even when you feel as if you are getting the sustenance you need, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting the right kind of sustenance. Try adding foods to your diet that help to reduce inflammation, give you energy, and provide brain-boosting vitamins and minerals. Good options include cinnamon, which has been shown to enhance cognitive ability, and pumpkin seeds, which are known inflammation fighters. Swapping simple carbs like white rice and white bread for their complex whole-grain counterparts can also help keep you energetic throughout the day.

Simplify Your Studying

Of course, when days are shorter and temperatures are colder, going out to study groups or libraries can be difficult to say the least. Utilizing software like the excellent CanadaQBank platform is a great idea for those days when you just don’t feel like getting out – or when you only have a few minutes to study. It’s packed with features designed to help you customize your mock exam or your study session any way you’d like, and the best part is that it’s affordable enough to fit even the most frugal student’s budget.

Keeping yourself motivated to study when it seems dark more than it’s light can be difficult. In fact, as many as 20% of the entire population suffers from some sort of depression triggered by the changing weather. The tips above are sure to help you feel better throughout the day so you can stay motivated to study and pass your licensing exam with flying colors.

Auditory vs. Visual vs. Kinesthetic Learning – Which is Right for You?

medical-students-learning-types

To be successful as a medical student, you must study as effectively as possible whenever you are given the opportunity. It is helpful to understand the three main learning types – auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Each one denotes a specific type of information delivery that resonates with students most clearly. Below, you can learn more about them, what they entail, and how to tell which one will help you get the most out of your study time.

Auditory Learning

An auditory learner is someone who comprehends, processes, and remembers data more readily when it is delivered via sound. In other words, these students must hear new information. You may be an auditory learner if you consider yourself an excellent storyteller, if you like working in groups, or if you seem to retain information better following a classroom lecture than after reading a chapter. If this sounds familiar, your best options for learning include:

  • Participating in classroom discussions;
  • Studying with a group of people;
  • Using flash cards with a partner who reads the questions out loud;
  • Reading chapters of a textbook out loud; and
  • Recording class lectures and listening to them.

Visual Learning

A visual learner is someone who tends to fare better with new information when they can see it. Simply hearing the information being delivered to them by a professor or recording is not enough; they must be able to read the information for themselves or even see it in a video in order to truly process and understand it. If you follow directions on instinct, stay organized without much effort, and have an inherent sense of alignment and balance in your life, you are likely a visual learner. Some of your best options for information delivery include:

  • Studying written words in a book, on slides, on whiteboards, in presentations, or even from your own notes;
  • Studying software-based content, such as that provided by online question banks;
  • Utilizing diagrams and handouts to make connections between different pieces of information;
  • Following study guides; and
  • Studying alone rather than with a group to prevent distractions.

Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learners are the epitome of “hands-on” learning. They don’t learn best by seeing or hearing; instead, they learn best by actually doing. You might be a kinesthetic learner if you naturally have great hand-eye coordination, if you are energetic, if you tend to pick up on new concepts quickly, and if you tend to participate in things like art and sports instead of just watching. Some of the best techniques you can use to learn include:

  • Studying while on a treadmill or stationary bicycle;
  • Sketching during lectures;
  • Role-playing situations related to the information you are covering; or
  • Studying while also playing a sport.

Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners are people who learn best in different situations and with different forms of information delivery. Most people are not purely auditory or purely kinesthetic learners, though, and that is why teachers and professors are always incorporating new teaching methods designed to touch upon each of these learning methods.

The Best Advice for Acing the USMLE

MCCQE Examination

If you’re like many students who will be taking the USMLE later this year, there’s a very good chance you’ve spent several hours reading blog posts, scouring forums, and looking for the best possible advice available for acing it. Though there’s no one magic recipe that works for everyone, there are a few things you can do that will drastically improve your chances of not only passing but doing so with flying colors.

Study Religiously

Everyone who’s ever scored a 99 on the USMLE will tell you the same thing: the key to acing the exam is studying. Though there are a few exceptions out there, most people can’t simply sit down at a computer and fly through the questions with a perfect score without putting in an incredible number of study hours. No matter how busy your schedule between school and work, you must set aside some time every single day for studying – no exceptions. This is the only way to ensure the information is ingrained in your mind in such a way that when test day comes, you have no trouble at all recalling answers.

Use the Right Study Materials

It is also important to remember that no two people learn the same way, so you’ll need to make certain that you’ve tried various study methods. Whether you respond better to lecture-style learning, quiet reading, using flash cards, or like many other students, online question banks, try to discover which of these methods gets you the best results and then stick with that. Of course, you should use the other methods to your advantage as well, but if question banks seem to help you memorize information better than textbooks, try to schedule most of your study time around the question banks.

Learn More about the Exam Itself

Though a lot of students spend a great deal of time learning the material that will be on the exam, they fail to spend much time learning about the exam itself. Via the USMLE website, you can find out everything you need to know, including how the exam works, how to apply, the fees you can expect to pay, and even get access to your scores and transcripts after you’ve taken the exam. It’s always a great idea to check the USMLE website often for information, and reading the FAQs can help you familiarize yourself with many different aspects of the site and the test itself.

Keep Calm and Prepare Yourself

It may seem tough to stop thinking negatively at times, especially when you come across specific topics or material that seem intimidating or difficult. In these cases, rather than worrying about your ability to learn the material, continue to go over it in different ways using different methods. If it still seems too difficult, reach out to professors at your school or ask about mentors and tutors who may be able to provide you with the insight you need. Allowing anxiety to take over will only make it more difficult for you to learn.

Though acing the USMLE is a great feeling, it’s important to remember that you don’t need a perfect score – you only need a passing score. You should always do your very best but be careful about allowing your desire to achieve perfection hinder your ability to properly study. Above all else, know you can do it, and be sure that you put in the time to study the right materials.