Study Habits The Premed Student Must Have To Guarantee Success In Medical School

There is never enough time in the day for a medical school student. Between time spent in class, studying, and fulfilling other obligations, the typical med school student is always in a rush. Unfortunately, this often means that you can’t spend as much time studying as you know you should. What to do? If you hope to succeed academically with limited study time, you need to develop impeccable study skills to maximize the precious time you have to work with. Below are several critical skills you should develop and can actually start while in your undergraduate classes:

1. Take impeccable notes. Whether you think you need to take notes or not, you do. There is simply too much information being presented for you to keep everything straight without writing it down. But haphazardly taking notes won’t cut it in med school either. Your notes need to be well organized and complete, so that when you’re staring at your notebook, bleary eyed at midnight, it won’t look like a wall of gibberish.

2. Repetition. You will spend many hours memorizing during medical school. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can commit anything to memory in one sitting. Plan your schedule so that you can spend several study sessions memorizing concepts and facts before you’ll be tested on it. Work with a partner, create flash cards, or draw pictures to trigger your memory—whatever works for you. The important thing is that you spend the necessary time memorizing… and that you don’t try to cram it all in during one sitting.

3. Avoid procrastination like the plague. Sure, procrastination won’t kill you in high school. Procrastination might not have been a big deal while in college. But procrastination will simply not fly in medical school. There is too much information, too many details, to be crammed into your head at the last minute. And as a med school student, you have too many responsibilities to get them all done just before the deadline. If you procrastinate, you won’t get things done. You won’t have enough time to study, you won’t put in enough volunteer hours, and you won’t fulfill your other obligations. Procrastination is fatal in medical school—act accordingly.

4. Get help. If you’re lost, ask for help! Get in touch with other students or professors and ask them for help. It’s not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of sanity. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to figure out every concept in medical school on your own, so don’t be too proud to ask for help. Forming a study group with other dedicated students is a great way to help each other out.

5. Don’t overdo it. It’s 2 AM, and you have an exam at 8 AM the next morning. You’ve spent much of the last week studying, but you’re still confused about a couple of things. Your head is spinning and your vision is starting to blur. Does this scenario sound familiar? If you haven’t experienced it yet, you will in medical school! The key is recognizing when to call it a night. It’s tempting to neglect sleep, but it’s a bad idea. A decent night’s sleep will be more valuable than a few more hours of study time—and who knows, by the time you wake up in the morning, confusing concepts may seem a bit more clear.

Medical school can be overwhelmingly difficult at times. Many students are frustrated and dismayed to learn that they literally do not have the time to study as much as they’d like—so strong study skills, such as those we’ve covered above, are critical for your success.

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