Studying can be stressful as the exams start nearing. If you are a medical student, you will feel
the pressure more due to the sheer amount of information you need to remember. You would
need strategies to ensure that your efforts reflect through good marks. Here are 6 study strategies
for medical students that prove to be helpful.
1. Take Practice Tests
‘Practice makes a man perfect’. You can apply this proverb as a study strategy. You can take a
number of practice tests to prepare better for the main exam. Use these practice tests to
familiarize yourself with the material and format of the test. This will boost your confidence for
the exam and ensure you won’t feel as nervous.
2. Study in Short Bursts
Cramming a week before the exam is extremely ineffective. You won’t be able to focus as
effectively in one night and you will forget most of the information by the next day. You
certainly won’t retain the information after the exam. Instead of cramming, aim to spread out
your study sessions across multiple short sessions instead of ‘binge-studying’. Limiting these
study sessions to 30 minutes will assure maximum attention span. Anything more than that, you
will start daydreaming.
3. Change Study Areas
It wouldn’t be unusual for you to stick it out behind your study desk for the entire preparation
period. However, numerous cognitive researches show that when you study in the same place all
the time, it will affect your memory recall. The new exam setting might even catch you off-guard
on the exam day. Therefore, try switching the study areas so that it will help you recall the
material irrespective of the environment.
4. Explain to Someone Else
This is a very efficient method to prepare for USMLE step 1 and remember what you study. You
may require a second person to help you out with this strategy. Pick a study buddy and explain to
them everything you know about the material. Doing this will help you remember better and
answering your study buddy’s doubts will help with critical thinking skills, help you gain a new
perspective about some topic or bring to your attention in case you missed a crucial topic.
5. Consolidate Notes
Making notes is a very common activity; however, you can further consolidate these notes to
help improve your analytical skills. Determine which concepts you can group together and how
you can express them in a concise manner. Keep the information in one place as it will help you
grasp the material better. Don’t try to fit in all the concepts in one page as some subjects will be
more complex and will lose important information if you focus on just cutting it down to one
6. Map It Out
If you are a visual learner, you can ‘map’ out the study material instead of just writing it down on
a piece of paper. Plot each element of information with the details pertaining to it. For instance, if
you are studying Pathology, write down all the possible symptoms. Visually mark the clusters of
symptoms that indicate different diseases. Doing this will help you see how the information
relates to each other. The visual aspect will help you recall the information in a better way.
There are numerous study tips for medical students, but it is important that you study based on
the strategies that suit you. One biggest tip that every student seems to overlook is to get enough
sleep — in the months leading to the exams as well as the night before the exam. This helps in
retaining long-term memory and helps you recall everything you studied on the exam day.