When it comes to improving your academic performance, and learning a sheer amount of study material, creating an effective study schedule is the key. It’s no surprise that the study material you have to absorb during preclinical and clinical years is much more difficult than your premedical courses. Therefore, it is important for medical students to learn exactly how to study in medical school so that they can prepare themselves for clinical rotations, USMLE step 1 and 2, and a perfect residency match. Creating an efficient learning routine and adopting some study habits can help medical students to increase their GPA and perform well during licensing exams.
If you are wondering which study method to choose to actively memorize the most important information, here are some science-backed learning strategies that medical students can adopt to perform well throughout the medical school journey.
Let’s check them out.
- Divide the Material into Manageable Chunks
Chunking is one of the most effective learning strategies that allow you to break the large study material into smaller chunks. According to different studies, people tend to absorb information better and faster when they learn the material in smaller chunks instead of memorizing all the details of a topic into their brains at once.
It is because our working memory can’t hold a lot of information at a time. However, breaking information into bite-sized chunks can allow you to master the topics effectively. This is why students who cram all night before the exam can’t be able to remember the important facts, and they tend to forget most of what they learn.
As a medical student, you are supposed to learn a massive amount of course material in a short period of time. You need to learn anatomical terms, pathological actions, pharmacological mechanisms, and a lot more throughout your medical schooling. If you want to avoid knowledge loss, divide the topic into small chunks, which will make it easier to remember.
- Take Breaks between Study Sessions
Studies show that breaks in your study routine can have a positive impact on your focus and attention abilities. So, take regular breaks between your study sessions but the type of activity you choose matters a lot. If you choose the activity that makes it difficult for your mind and body to transition back into your studies, it is advised to avoid doing this and choose another one.
There is a long list of activities that you can perform during your study break. For instance, get outside for a walk and get some fresh air. Stretch your muscles to relax your body, call a friend, take a shower, cook your favorite meal, meditate, and the list goes on and on. Make sure you don’t choose any activity that decreases your ability to concentrate and stay alert.
- Work out Before Studying
For many students, it sounds weird, but it actually works. Several studies suggest that exercise can have a long- and short-term effect on your cognitive ability. It can boost your memory and memory. When you work out, the blood flow to your brain will be increased; it will get more oxygen and nutrients. Your body activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for sharpening memory.
Exercise can play a key role in increasing your short-term memory and cognitive skills while reliving body stress. In fact, exercise is one of the easiest and simplest ways to curb anxiety. Exercising before studying can improve your focus and help you study more effectively. To get the best possible results, try to do cycling, walking, cardio, swimming, or any other physical activity before you sit down for a long study session.
- Combat the Forgetting Curve
Many medical students find it difficult to remember every piece of information they learned during lectures. You can make this challenging task easier if you combat the forgetting curve. Let me explain you the Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve, in case you are not familiar with the term. The forgetting curve explains that students are much more likely to be able to recall information which they just learned in their lecture compared to the material which is covered earlier in class.
According to some studies, the human brain can forget 50% of the information within an hour of learning. If you want to retain information and thoroughly understand what you learn during the lecture, try the spaced learning technique. This effective learning strategy allows you to retain information and reshape the forgetting curve.
If you set aside a time to review your lectures every day, it will make it easier for your brain to actively process information and retain it for long. So, revise your lectures daily; it can help save you time in the long run.
- Studying before Bedtime
Did you know sleep can enhance studying by improving your memory and ability to recall? According to several studies, studying before going to sleep can consolidate your memory, which will eventually improve your academic performance and boost your GPA. Different studies revealed that participants who engaged in studying before bedtime are able to learn information at a higher rate compared to those who studied in the morning or at any other time of the day. It clearly shows that students who study before sleep have a better ability to retain information. It makes it easier for medical students to learn more effectively and with less effort.
It’s Your Turn
If you want to become a successful medical student, boost your GPA, and learn the important course material, try these science-backed study techniques that will surely help you achieve your academic and career goals.