Tips for Being Successful on a Medical School Exam



Medical School Blog

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So, you get your tentative schedule for your first week of class, along with some required reading assignments that will be discussed in lecture, power point slides, and maybe even some practice problems. What do you do? As I mentioned before, medical school is like sipping water from a fire hydrant. With that said, any chance you have to “get ahead” and lessen the high powered flow of information that is going to be coming your way, take it! You’ll thank yourself later. Here are some suggestions for things that have worked for me so far.
1. Pre-read. Many professors will give you reading assignments for lecture. Read them, all of them if you can, but if you are pressed for time, at least read the introduction, all the bolded titles and subtitles and the conclusion/summary of the material at the end. This will help you have a basic foundation for the material that you are going to cover in lecture that day. You may feel like you aren’t being efficient with your time since you are taking time to cover material that you aren’t familiar with and that is going to be explained to you in lecture anyway, but trust me, this is extremely helpful.
Sometimes my classmates will look at me confused during lecture and will ask, “Did you understand what she just said?” and to my satisfaction, I do! All because I pre-read for class the night before. I will warn you, this is very time consuming, especially if your reading-assignments are anything like mine. But it’s worth doing. I have heard that some people need to see the material at least 4 times before it clicks. If you are one of the people, pre-reading + lecture is already 2!
2. When you are in class, be engaged!! Everyone has access to immediate distractions thanks to all of our wonderful technological advances. Stay off the web! It makes no sense to be in lecture if you aren’t even going to pay attention. If you have a hard time staying tuned in, take notes (even if you never look at them again, but you will), ask questions, and if the lecture is interactive answer questions too! Side note: this is sometimes very embarrassing, especially if you answer wrong, BUT, I guarantee it will leave a better impression in your mind and you won’t forget it, especially when you are wrong. While in lecture, listen for things that are repeated often (it’s probably high-yield material) and if your professor is nice, they will tell you, “This is important.”
3. Go home and review. School is your job, so if you get out of class at noon, take a lunch and then go back to work until at least 5 o’clock. That is your opportunity to review all the material that you learned in class. If you are a note taker, take notes. If you make flash cards, make flash cards. If you make charts, make charts. Whatever you do to review and study, do that and pretend like you have a test on the material the next day. This will allow you to learn it and have better recall when you are studying for your exam. Regardless of how you decide to study, make sure that you have something tangible to help you review later for your exam. The last thing you need is to start studying for your exam and realize that you have zero study materials. Side Note: If you make flashcards, carry them with you, that way if you have some free time (10 minutes before your next class, etc.) you can pull them out and review them real quick.
4. Begin to study for your exam as early as possible. At my school, I usually get a week to study for my end of module exam. This is when I start reviewing all the material that I took notes over and made flash cards for. At this point I would have seen the material at least 4 times! If you have an opportunity to, meet up with other classmates and talk concepts out with them. Teach each other, quiz each other and try and stump the others, this makes the material interactive and allows you and your friends to make connections that you may not have made/realized on your own before. I can remember several instances in an exam where I wouldn’t have known the answer to a test question had it not been for my friend who quizzed me on it a few days before. And always remember, there is no such thing as cramming for a medical school exam. It just doesn’t work so don’t do it. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself ample time to REVIEW (not study) the material on your exam.

From Med School Insight.

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