Here’s what I’ve discovered about my learning style so far:
I don’t learn effectively in lecture
I attended lecture for the entire first week, but I didn’t learn that much from it. This is not the fault of the lecturers (the quality is quite good), but because my mind gets strongly fixated on concepts that don’t make sense. Whenever I encounter something confusing in lecture I want to go on Wikipedia or start reading the textbook to understand the concept. I then stop focusing on what the lecturer is currently talking about and lose my place. The rest of lecture becomes a waste.
It’s unfortunate because lecture is also a time to socialize and see the rest of your classmates.
I love reading the textbook!
Definitely not the coolest thing about me. Most of the second years preached that they never had to open a textbook, but I’ve always enjoyed learning from them. Rarely are you lucky enough to have a lecturer that lays out material as cleanly as a textbook does. The downside to textbook reading, though, is time. It takes much longer than simply attending lecture and often the textbook digresses into material that is not covered on the test.
I want to learn everything…
The hardest lesson for me to come to grips with – and something that I’m still struggling with – is that you can’t learn everything. There’s simply too much material. Each week in medical school feels like a month in undergrad. It’s especially difficult for someone like me, because I was able to learn everything during undergrad (even with all the procrastination).
It’s important to prioritize what you need to study to do well on exams, otherwise you can study forever.
If you had unlimited amounts of time, this study system would cover everything:
- Pre-read assigned readings prior to lecture and take notes.
- Attend lecture and take notes.
- Re-listen to lecture and get everything that you missed / reference the textbook again as needed.
- Summarize / organize your amazingly comprehensive notes.
What I’m currently doing:
I’m focusing on the last two items of the “ideal study system.” I skip lecture and listen to the lecture recording at about 1.5x speed, pausing as needed so I can learn concepts that don’t make sense. I use online resources and textbooks as necessary while I work through the lecture, but no longer read material cover to cover. I end up with a good copy of notes that I summarize and study.
We have our first midterm exam next week, so hopefully all goes well. Still trying to figure out the best way to memorize things (rewriting notes, using flashcards, etc), but I will figure that out as time goes on. Thanks for reading!
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All of the opinions expressed here are the author’s and his/hers alone, and do not represent necessarily those of Kaplan or its employees.