Pre-Med Study Strategies – What I Wish I Knew in College (Tips from Medical School)
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Pre-Med Study Strategies – What I Wish I Knew in College (Tips from Medical School)

What’s going on guys! Today I’m gonna teach you some pre-med study
strategies, things that I learned about in medical school that I wish I knew back as
a pre-med. It would have made my life a lot easier, it
would have made my studying a lot more efficient and anyways, I’m going to share with you guys
those secrets. So the first thing I want to talk about is
active versus passive learning and I’m sure a lot of you have already heard about this. A lot of us tend to do passive learning but
you want to do active learning, it’s a lot more effective. The first thing is to identify what’s important
– when you’re reading a text book or listening to lecture, actively try to figure out what
is important and emphasize that information in your notes. Number two, organize the information. Organize it in a way that you understand,
that makes sense to you. Again, this is going to be an active process
– it is going to be difficult. It not going to be as easy as just passively
reading, but you will reap the rewards and the benefits when it come to test time. For example, one thing that I did, I would
create charts. So, even though the textbook or the professor
did not necessarily create a chart. Let’s say I was comparing two different things,
I would have a chart, which was an active process to create the chart, find the information
and compare the two. And in doing so, just like creating the chart,
I already understood the information that much better and I also had a tool to review
at a later date to really emphasize it. Number three; memorize it in an active way
– I’ll get to how to do that later. And four, apply the information. This can be done in a variety of ways. So, for your Pre-med classes, they often give
you practice questions either in the textbook, or with some online service. You can also do quizzes. Sometimes the professor will release last
year’s quizzes or tests. Those are very useful as well. Now, the first to apply to obtaining the information
and these two are going to apply to reviewing the information. Next, let’s talk about the learning environment. This section is very dependent on the individual
so figure out what’s best for you. First is the Location. Some people like coffee shops or libraries
– I preferred my own place. I had my dual-screen set-up, a comfortable
chair, it was always quiet, but figure out what out what works best for you – some
people tend to get distracted at home. Also, are you studying by yourself or are
you studying with other people? I would generally split it 50-50, I found
out it’s what worked best for me. While I was studying with other people, I
wasn’t as quick as going through the information but it helped really key in difficult concepts
and keep you motivated, keep you sane. So, if you do do this, keep the group small. With you included, there’s only gonna be two
or three people. So, have one or two friends join you but keep
it – don’t get any more than that because when you do, you’ll lose the benefits of that
group studying and you guys will start to get distracted, talking, having fun, so keep
those groups small. This brings in the next point about having
a routine versus having novel stimuli. So, novel stimuli have been shown to improve
recall and retention at later dates but I find there’s a trade-off between having novel
stimuli and maintaining discipline. So, if you have a routine, a regular routine
where you wake up same time, go to the same place, study at the same time, it’s a lot
easier to maintain that routine and not procrastinate whereas if you have a novel stimuli, just
studying at a new place every day or you’re working with different people, it’s harder
to get in the groove and to maintain that long-term, at least for me. But again, figure out what works best for
you. Number three; obtaining the information. Generally, this is gonna be done in two ways
as a pre-made, the first is lecture and the second is textbooks. And when it comes to lecture, I did what most
of us do, go to lecture, pressures of standing in the front and they read off the PowerPoint
and then we’re sitting in the lecture hall, we have our laptops out, we have the PowerPoint
open and same slide and we’re just taking notes in the comment section. I do not think this was a very effective way
to learn. A few things to consider, first, should you
be writing or should you be typing? Figure out what works best for you. Typing is faster, which sounds great initially
but if you type faster, you can copy verbatim what the professor is saying which is a very
passive process. By writing, you generally write slower, you
have to emphasize the important information and organize it. And there have actually been studies showing
that writing – writing out notes results in improved recall. Second; are you going to the lecture hall
or are you listening to the podcast? A lot of classes now offer podcast and for
me, this works best. By going to the lecture hall, there are distinct
advantages though; you have a set routine and you’re surrounded by other people trying
to learn the information. You can ask questions but on the other hand,
a podcast gives you the flexibility to watch whenever you want to, just to make sure you’re
well-rested, you’re not sleepy. You can also wash it at increased speed, so
1.5 two times speed. That benefits you in two ways, one; the lecture
is no longer 60 minutes, now it’s only 30 to 45 minutes and also it can help you focus. For me at least, the lecturer could speak
too slow sometimes and this would result in my mind wandering, so by increasing the speed,
I was forced to pay attention. But again, figure out what works best for
you. The podcast really requires a lot of discipline
to stay up to speed; otherwise you will fall behind if you start procrastinating, in that
case, stick with the lecture hall. I’ve seen a lot of people rewash the lectures
or they’ll record with like a recording device and the lecture and then listen to that later. This is a complete waste of time, do not do
it! You can better use your time reviewing the
information, organizing it, doing active learning or going to office hours and asking questions. Do not re-watch the lectures, do not re-listen,
that’s not a good use at your time. When it comes to textbooks, what I did is
just highlight the textbook. I don’t think that’s the best way to do it. Instead, I think try to make it as active
as you can. So, I would you know, highlight the textbook
and then come back and just read my highlights before the test. Instead, get your computer out and get a notepad
and summarize in your own words. By doing this, you’re identifying the important
information and organizing it in a way that you understand and you’ll recall that information
much better come test time. All right, now you’re ready to review the
information. What I did and what I do not recommend you
do is I’d open up my computer, have my PowerPoint and I’d review the notes that I wrote in the
notes section. And I just do the slide after slide and do
this several times to learn the information. This was not a good use of time and there
are much better ways to do this. Some people will do the same thing with a
word document, they’ll have you know, several pages, full you know, full of notes and they’ll
just review every single page. Don’t do this either. To memorize, one of the best ways to do this
is summarize the information. So take these three pages or take your PowerPoint
notes and condense them. So, let’s say you have three pages, make it
into one page. Don’t just decrease the font size, don’t change
the margins, actually read through it and identify just the important information and
organize it in a way that you understand. By doing so, just this process alone will
reinforce that material and now you also have a condensed study resource to review at a
later date. Some people also recommend you make an even
shorter summary sheet after that. I generally just did one iteration but you
can do two or three, what works best for you. The other thing is space repetition. This is the most effective way to memorize
information. The concept is that if you have, let’s say
you learned the information on day zero and these are all the days after. You only revise on day zero, you re-viewed
on day one and each time you review it, there’s an increasing interval. What this does is it allows you to retain
that information in a very efficient manner. Instead of reviewing it every day, you only
need to review it right when you’re about to forget. So, do this on your own, requires a lot of
scheduling and is very difficult and what I recommend is a program called Anki. It’s a free software for your Mac PC. I think they might even have for Linux and
it will also sync with your smart phone. Make your own flashcards using this app and
review them daily. By making your own, you’re again taking advantage
of the active learning process, if you review someone else’s it becomes – you’re still doing
some of the active recall but you’re losing out on a lot of the benefit of making your
own flashcards. Also doing this daily is key because if you
fall behind, you’re not really taking advantage of a space repetition and it defeats the purpose. So what I would do to get these done daily
and let’s say it’s you know, the week before the exam and things are ramping up, I would
get my smartphone out when I was waiting in line at a restaurant or getting groceries
waiting in line or waiting for a friend and just do a few flashcards then because even
those 5-10 minutes allow you to do several flashcards which adds up throughout the day. To review a whole lecture it’ll take you know
20-30 minutes but I do a few flashcards, you just need a few minutes and you will still
reap all the benefits. Lastly, on test day make sure you are well
rested. Everyone says this but I cannot emphasize
this enough. Many people including myself have made the
mistake of pulling an all-nighter and not being well rested thinking that cramming the
information is more important. That will actually give you a lower test score
than if you are well-rested, you have you know adequate sleep, you eat a good breakfast
and you’re ready to go. Because if your mind is able to critically
think, that will benefit you more than trying to cram that information when you’re tired
you know, you’re not gonna be able to retain it anyways. So those are the strategies that I learned
from med school, I hope you find them useful. Leave your comments or questions down below
and I’ll see you in the next video.

About James Carlton

Read All Posts By James Carlton

100 thoughts on “Pre-Med Study Strategies – What I Wish I Knew in College (Tips from Medical School)

  1. I have a question. When you spoke about spatial repetition does that mean on the say third day you rewrite your study sheet and inbetween you are studying flash cards? I may have missed it. Can you re explain?

  2. Just found your channel, and it’s already become my new favorite on YouTube ! You likely have done a video on this already but could you further explain the chart technique in 1. And 2. Perhaps even a basic example. Many Thanks and looking forward to diving into the channels content !

  3. I'm a little confused regarding Anki; you first mention that the interval between reviewing the flashcards increases, hence 'spaced repetition'. Then you mention that we should review the cards daily. Could you clarify please? Thank you so much. Very helpful video and I just downloaded Anki.

  4. The necessity of being well rested part is the only thing I disagree with, I’ve pulled many all-nighters in my college days that have saved my grades on tests. It just depends on the person.

  5. I'm still gonna cram on test days cuz I'm not responsible enough to get all my studying done beforehand.

  6. Any specific tips on how to tackle Organic Chemistry I & II? I'm taking Organic Chemistry I in fall and I'm so nervous. I really want to get into a good pharmacy school.

  7. For the recording lecture point, do not go with what he says and focus on what your professor's style is! Sure, recording your professor may not help if his points are simple. Although!!! Some professors hint and mention concepts that will be on the exam and this was extremely useful to me while notetaking lectures and listening at home. Yes, I went to all inclass lectures, but you tend to forget key concepts if you have professors like mine who mention a million examples and you aren't sure what's important. Instead of wasting your time organizing the simple stuff, you can prioritize the stuff that will DEFINITELY show up. (Also, I'm referencing my BIO 196 class which DEFINITELY required lots of individual studying). Anyway, good video!

  8. I've never studied before but I'm trying to take that extra mile so I can be prepared for college. I don't think my junior year is too late. But at the same timee ik sophomore year was really what was popping.

  9. I’m having trouble paying attention studying this video who’s purpose is to help me pay attention to studying…. yeah you can see why I’m failing my AP classes…

  10. To all of that I would highly recommend to subscribe to Lecturio. I found their very useful during my pre-med years, and I currently use it in medical school as well. All topics are very well explained, and their spaced repetition program is incredible, as I have a problem with long-term memory.

  11. Hello!
    I think that spaced memorization process is hard to apply because we have a lot of information to understand and to mermorize so i think that it will not be enough time to do it for all lessons we have.
    what do you think and can you help me ??

  12. Hi! I’m juste taking notes on my computer and I add things like diagrams or other info I can find somewhere else and then I’m just rewriting it into a notebook and I’m drawing patterns etc, is it a waste of time?

  13. Very useful indeed.

    My mistakes in my first attempt which I rectified in the second:
    1. Not go to lectures – none of the smart guys did. Later I did and the discipline amplified by peer pressure helped me a lot. In those days we didn't have the luxury of podcasts.
    2. "plan" – the planning is done by the organizing body. The only thing you need to do is study. Planning creates an artificial rhythm which eventually makes you study x pages a day – pointless.
    3. Use someone else's notes. 1) they're unintelligible 2) the point is making notes, not using them afterwards

    But the main message is clear in this video: find out what works for you. Don't let your peers, your parents, your teachers dictate that.

  14. Great video, but how would these apply to studying for engineering? Any tips? I find that I struggle with my engineering classes.

  15. The main key of active recall is using "Anki" to make questions to call information out of your brain, right?

    When you are looking at questions, your brain will wake up and then try to search the information you need from your brain. That process can move short-term memory into long-term memory.

  16. I use Anki, but I use it wrong (by that I mean, I use it more as a testing tool occasionally rather than an actual daily spaced repetition tool, and 99% of my cards are from other people). Making cards on Anki is a hassle for me, and I have problems with synthesizing information via Anki; the information is very piecemeal and doesn't stick for all subjects since I lack the bigger context. I wish I could switch to using Anki as it was intended, but so far I've always had to rely on other methods because of these caveats.

  17. Thank you so much for the video very concise and awesome tips and tricks!! When I was younger I’ve decided to be a medical student with pre led and this video taught me a lot thank you so much!!!

  18. wow, loved all your videos, am trying to do some YouTube videos as well in future, hope we can do cooperation for at least one video together in future! Yours sincerely,

  19. something about test day: take a shit before you leave for the test. Depending on your shit schedule you may not need this (e.g. if you're used to taking a shit in the evening) but the last thing you want to have happen during the test is your call of nature being as urgent as calls when you're on call.

  20. It’s weird cause i can concentrate and focus in a noisy environment (but not too noisy)
    Being surrounded with people, with people walking around and talking, makes me focus and understand faster

  21. In our university, figuring out what's important is nearly impossible. Almost all our exams are MCQ exams, along with some general open questions to see wheter you get the bigger picture. The problem? Those MCQ questions may either be at a "generalist" level, or may be at the level of a specialist – too detailed, that is. And that depends on the professor who teaches us …

  22. In the study weeks before the exams, when studying a subject, I would summarise the 'key points' of any course on some papers, and then a few days before the exam, I would summarise my summaries. Somehow, that helped.

    The downside? I only figured out this worked for me in my next to last year in med school (right befor the internships would start). Result: very average and sometimes even bad grades (except for papers and thesis, for which I would generally get 18/20) in almost all years of my bachelor's (premed + a little part of med) and master's (med) courses, except for the two last ones.

  23. Your videos help me a lot..thank you so much For all the info you provide..I’ve started to procrastinate about my studies a lot lesser than usual 💯

  24. Flashcards! I can't stress this enough, they are the MOST important thing in the world, when in med school (if you want to have a life that is). Every other method of memorising information is inferior, as proven scientifically. He mentions active recall and spaced repetition which is the best way to memorise, but if you want to have it organised for you, get anki because it is embedded into their algorithm. There are also tons of add-ons you can get, my personal favourite being image occlusion, which allows you to turn a big diagram with loads of labels into a flashcard exercise by covering the name of the structure being pointed to (great for anatomy).

    Brainscape is another good one, they recently improved their algorithm and are now rivelling anki but they charge. There pro version is worth the 2.99 per month because there are extensive sets of flashcards available for pretty much everything and alot have been checked and edited.

    If you take one word away from this messege, let it be the word flashcards!

    Good luck studying!

  25. Honestly, the problem for me with writing the information or condensing it in my own words is that everything seems important!!! 😭😭😭

  26. could you re-do that kind of video, i would love to have it animated instead of that tiny hamdwriting. and maybe you have got some new tipps

  27. Hey Doc! Im a little clueless about how to use the flash cards on anki. Like what sort of information do we put on flash cards- Facts and details for example names of proteins etc or Concepts like implantation process in embryology.

  28. Thank you for the informative and educational video. I want to ask, can we use the Feynman technique in review step instead of flashcards using Anki? Thanks again.

  29. this was really helpful but how did you get through the whole video without stuttering or messing up with your writing, which is really neat by the way

  30. What's funny is ik space repetition method of study is highly effective ever since the 8th grade, but my motivation dropped, the more harder it got, I think the key is really motivation

  31. The vedeo was very helpful…but i have just one question… it's my weakness u can say…when i study a chpter i don't know which part to leave….that is I don't know what's important and what's not….can u plz help me with this…bcoz i m a medici too…and presently i m having problem with my pharma and patho…so plz reply how to understand what's important…

  32. I would say that for lecture we should use our computers to note take but have a paper for hard to type things like graphs. It’s better because you can get down all the important information that the professor talks about rather than writing it out. You can pay more attention to the lecture rather than stressfully trying to write important stuff down. I Would then ask you get the lecture from the professor and then apply the steps in the video of reviewing your online notes and presentation slides that way you can have all the information you need and that way you can have better notes while not missing little things. After than summarize like he said in the video. It’s the same things as you said in the video, I’m just adding on two parts to make your notes even more successful. It does take a bit more time though. But remember to study smarter not harder and summarize in writing that way you can retain that knowledge. =)

  33. I’m in 8th grade and I want to be a pathologist. I’m really excited but I’m mostly very nervous because of med school and the studying! I don’t know if it’s early or not to start studying so can someone reply? Thank you so much this video was very helpful!

  34. How I Study:
    -Write Down Important Topics/Sub-Topics about Reading (I make sure to understand the reading and if I don’t I mark it)
    -Type during Lectures and Ask about any Questions I have
    -Write down the notes I have from lecture in my own words
    -Go to Office Hours for anything left that I didn’t understand
    -Review every 3 days – 2 weeks depending on how well I understand the material

  35. Wish I'd seen this video before I took a medical course. I've already graduated and did none of these things. 😂

  36. Thank you so much! You are helping so many of us poor students who are struggling to make ends meet, and need help with college. So, paying for advice is as pricely as our rents was the biggest issue for me personally till I came across your page!!Your free resources are such a life saver! Thank you so much! You’re so talented at imparting successful advice, more so than my own pre-health advisors!

  37. I can't believe this was 2 years ago I was wishing for a video that would change the way I study for the better because I found myself applying a lot of methods at once it was tiring. I'm not a med student lm an engineering student however ur methods I can even apply them for technical courses too, thank u🙌

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