Medical school is challenging, and not just because it’s time-intensive. The material students must memorize to pass the multitude of tests necessary for certification is extensive and difficult. With so much needing remembered it can seem like studying encompasses all a student’s free time.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. While studying should take a considerable amount of a student’s free time, it doesn’t have to take all of it. The idea is to “study smarter, not harder.” Here we offer 15 quick tips to help med students do just that.
- Space out studying, don’t binge. If you space your studying out throughout the weeks or months leading up to an exam you are more likely to retain the information versus suffering extreme burnout.
- Take a fifteen-minute break after 45 to 60 minutes of studying, depending on what works for you. During this time, you should do nothing but sit back and relax, to allow your mind to process information.
- Use a “smart studying” program like CanadaQBank.
- If you’ve memorized a section or topic area, don’t waste time repeating it. Focus effort on more difficult areas and do a quick once-over the day before your exam.
- Take a night off to socialize. This is good for mental and emotional health.
- Instead of staying up all night to study, focus on getting a solid eight hours whenever possible. This allows the brain to function adequately.
- Create an organizational method for your notes which works for you. It can take some trial and error but having all your notes and other studying tools organized can save a lot of time. It also makes the entire process significantly easier.
- Use a calendar to keep track of important upcoming dates, like exams. Pin it to the wall in a place you’ll see it every day.
- Get a study buddy. It will help keep you on track by providing both motivation and support.
- Before and after studying, take time to stretch. This will help keep good blood flow.
- Don’t forget to eat! Carbohydrates and protein are both great brain fuel. Snack often and eat a good breakfast the day before an exam.
- Don’t become discouraged if it takes a little extra time to nail a topic that is difficult for you. Stressing over it will actually make it more difficult to master!
- If you find yourself in a rut, go study in a new place. It could be on the lawn, in the library, or at a coffee shop. The change of scenery will help get your mind moving again.
- Figure out your learning style and leverage it to its fullest potential.
- Take ten minutes to go over your most difficult subject matter right before bed. Science shows this can help you memorize it, since the brain processes your day backwards!
If you incorporate the above tips into your normal studying routine, you’ll find that subject material is memorized quicker, and that the risks of burnout from over-studying are decreased.