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10 Crucial Study Tips for Med School Success in First & Second Year

Dr. Ali Elsaadi contributed to this post.

Are you wondering how to make the most efficient use of your time to succeed on coursework and achieve high USMLE scores in the first and second year of medical school?

One of the most challenging parts of studying is sitting for so many hours without using your phone, getting up to go to the bathroom, having a snack, or even just zoning out.

It’s close to impossible to sit in front of a computer or book for 4-6 hours straight without getting distracted. The good news is that you can use those distractions to your advantage and seamlessly incorporate them into your study plan to maximize your effective study time. 

Here are 10 study tips for success during your preclinical years:

 

Now, That's What I Call High-Yield: Oncology

If any subject needed the high-yield teased out of it, oncology would be the one. We go through medical school under the repeated mantra that, “You don’t need to know chemotherapy regimens,” and this leaves us wondering…”Well, what do I need to know then?”

Taking a Step Back: What I Would Do Differently to Prepare (Again) for USMLE Step 1

It’s common to feel a variety of emotions when leaving the testing center after taking the USMLE Step 1 exam. Some students will be overwhelmed with fear that they failed. Others may continuously replay questions over and over again in their head. Some students may feel a sense of elation that the grueling test in behind them. I myself was overwhelmed with emotion. Not necessarily because I thought I failed, as I really didn’t know how I felt about the difficulty of the exam, but rather because I realized that the test really wasn’t that bad. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to help other students tackle the beast that is step 1. I had spent so many weeks and months obsessing over the exam, losing sleep, almost tearfully dragging myself to the library each day. But the moment I left the testing center, I truly realized this was just an exam. It doesn’t define me or any other test taker as a person, and it’s not worth months of turmoil worrying about.

How the Pomodoro Technique Makes Med School Studying More Effective, Any Way You Slice it

The pomodoro technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s as a way to improve focus and efficiency. "Pomodoro" is Italian for "tomato," and the study method is named after traditional tomato-shaped kitchen timers.

Now, That's What I Call High Yield: Endocrinology

At first, the endocrine system doesn’t come across as a super important one. Without a big sexy organ (like a heart, brain, or lungs) to rally behind, it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. However, inside your body, hormones keep the train moving. The health of your patients depends on such an exquisite balance of hormones that are easy to take for granted. That is, until they get out of balance, and we suffer the effects.

How to Use Spaced Repetition in Your Medical School Studies

One issue I find most students struggle a bit with when studying is revisiting old material. There never seems to be a good time to go back to your old lectures to brush up on the basics of physiology, pathology, pharmacology or even your favorite topic, biochemistry! How can you make sure to squeeze in that crucial extra review needed to solidify old concepts without falling behind on the new ones? Here are a few tips on how to incorporate old material into your day to day and why it’s necessary to do so.

The True Utility Of Mnemonics For Your USMLE Step Prep

A few questions I get quite a bit from students are along the lines of, “what’s the best way to memorize the signs of symptoms of this disease?” or something like, “what’s a quick mnemonic I can rely on for all the adverse effects of this drug?” Now, before I answer this, I must say I have always been a bit wary of using mnemonics (I’m looking at you First Aid and your infamous “Most chronic alcoholics Steal Phen Phen and Never Refuse Greasy Carbs/SICKFACES.COM” nonsense), but things changed for me during dedicated USMLE step prep when I realized that just like everything else in life, you can find a diamond in the rough when it comes to these clever ways of learning content.

Here are a few USMLE mnemonics and how you can learn from them/use them to your advantage in ruling out incorrect answers in a question stem:

Four Reasons Why It's Okay to Make Mistakes as a Med Student or Resident (and How You Can Learn from Them)

A few weeks ago I was working with some fourth year medical students in the emergency department as they helped care for and follow patients. When it came time to disposition patients, I asked the students if they would like to call any consults or admitting services but, my request was met with some hesitation. I remember as a medical student, and even an intern, I too was nervous about calling consults for fear of being questioned or “pimped” about the patients or even receiving push back about an admission. However, as I explained to the medical students, it is okay, and sometimes even beneficial, to make mistakes while in training because these mistakes and experiences are what help us become stronger, more competent physicians.

Well-Being & Academic Skills in Medical School – Part Three: Building Resilience with Balance

It’s a pounding heartbeat, a rock in your abdomen, a lump in your throat, a spike in adrenaline. It’s waking up at 2 a.m. and worrying about what you said yesterday or what you have to do today. It’s avoiding facing a situation that you unprepared for or that you dread.Anxiety threatens our peace of mind, enjoyment, work, and our health. It can be destructive and interfere with our studies, our work, and our relationships. Yes, anxiety is a natural and necessary human reaction that helps us be alert and responsive. It can be useful when proportional and rational. But when unfocused and excessive, anxiety lasts longer than comfortable and begins to control our choices. It is not healthy. Whatever your depth of anxiety, you can learn to manage it in order to serve and care for others in the way you want to. Train yourself to become aware of your physiological symptoms of anxiety, so that you can use your awareness to trigger your chosen relaxation response. Here are a few simple tools, tips, and techniques that we can do to win back the balance in our lives by BUILDING RESILIENCE.

Step Up Your USMLE Game by Playing to Your Learning Style

One of the most critical elements of anyone’s academic success is an awareness of how you learn best. Here at Med School Tutors, we tend to geek out about this quite a bit because hey, we’re excited about learning and teaching.

What we know from our 12+ years of experience — whether learning styles are “neuromyths” or not — is that there are key things that you can do to play to your strengths in these different areas as they best serve your learning, and therefore give yourself the strongest shot at retaining information in the short and long term.

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to stick to the four most commonly accepted learning style categories: Verbal, Aural, Visual and Kinetic.

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