Studying efficiently in pre-med is very important in order to get a high GPA but also enjoy your time in college without feeling burnt out. Here, we go over some effective strategies you can apply for success.
- Preview Lectures
The day before lecture, read through the lecture and understand the major concepts through either the recommended textbook/youtube (depending on how you learn). You will then make flashcards with Anki on each lecture. Check our other videos/posts for a tutorial on how to use Anki. Then the next day, when you go to lecture, it is the second time you are exposed to the information. Here, you can focus on the details the professor emphasizes and add additional flashcards on those things. If your school offers recorded lectures, then watch those at a higher speed rather than going to class to save even more time (as long as you can stay focused)
2. How Do You Learn
You have to know yourself and this will come with time and trying things. Eventually you should have an understanding of how you best learn/ focus. I like to have a routine; same time, same place, same coffee. This puts me in the zone of studying and tells my mind that it is study time. I personally like to study on my own but if you like studying in groups, keep it below 5 people and only study in groups after you have already understood everything on your own. Figure out what works for you; do you like cafes, libraries, your room? Are you a morning person? Night Owl? Once you figure out a routine that works for you, stick to it. I would recommend waking up early to get accustomed to how things will be down the road and studying individually for the most part.
3. Active Learning, Not Passive Consumption
After the initial read-through and understanding of the lecture material, there really shouldn’t be a need to go through it again. Just passively reading lectures and watching videos is not effective at all. Making flashcards/notes forces you to take out the important parts of the lecture. You memorize through doing those flashcards which forces you to use active recall rather than just recognizing the right answer. When you are in 3rd year of medical school, you will have to answer questions on the spot by recalling information. Best to build those habits early. Don’t just read through stuff that you’re already good at to feel good about yourself. Focus on what you don’t understand and then memorize it all using Anki flashcards.
4. Apply Information
Once you have everything memorized, you need to apply the information to make sure that you actually understand it. Most classes should have practice questions, old exams or textbooks which have questions in them. The only way to truly understand what you are learning is to practice by applying it. This will expose your knowledge holes and then you can focus on learning/memorizing those things. You should use most of your practice material closer to your exam once you already have most of the information down. Usually this about 1 week-1.5 weeks before the exam.
5. Cheat Sheet Technique
At this point, you have memorized all the lectures’ important information through flashcards and applied it by doing practice questions/old exams. Now, the week of the exam you want to do what we call the cheat sheet technique. This is the only other time you should be going through the initial lectures. Get a sheet of paper, and this is the only paper you get to use, and only one side of it. On this paper you want to put major concepts/ideas and hard to memorize minute details like equations or specific facts that are hard to keep track of. Once you have this sheet ready a day or two before the exam, this sheet is all you should review until the exam. Read through it for 2-3 days before the exam and that’s it.
6. Test Day
All nighters are not effective and only look cool in the movies. Be well rested and confident because as long as you do the above things, you’ll be more than prepared. It is much better to just water the seeds throughout the semester with these habits rather than cramming at the end. This will lead to a much smoother, more efficient process that you can actually enjoy. You will save a ton of time overall by studying like this which you can use to enjoy yourself.