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Medical School Tips and How to Do Great as a Medical Student

medical school medical student May 28, 2020

Great you've made it into medical school but now what?

Just because you're in medical school doesn't mean there will be smooth sailing ahead. Personally, medical school was a big adjustment for me from an academic standpoint but there are certainly some medical school tips that can help you perform well academically.

The reason medical school is tough has to do with the volume of material you are expected to learn and spit back on your exams. It doesn't require much thinking or analysis the first two years of medical school are really about memorization.

Knowing it comes down to memorization the way to get ahead is through putting in the hours. My advisor stated, " you need to put in eight hours a day of studying." The top students do this and it is what you have to do to be successful in medical school.

Okay, so you know it will be eight hours each day but how do you make the most of your time?

I hate schedules but success comes from the schedule. One learning specialist has the mantra of, "Those who hate the schedule need it the most." What actually happens when you schedule your time is you find out you actually have more time.

My medical school tip to you is to get a planner and start scheduling your days. It will suck at first but eventually you'll get used to having a schedule and find that your medical school grades are improving.

So what goes into the schedule.

Begin but putting in all of your class time and other appointments that will not change from week to week.

Then add in when you will eat, sleep and any special events you will have. Also put in gaps for downtime where you can relax, go to the gym, go out, or hang with friends.

Once you have your times in your calendar you have to schedule in time for studying. You want to make study blocks in your calendar. For instance, this may mean three hours of anatomy will be scheduled.

There you have it you have your schedule but there's more to the process if you want to be a top medical student.

You then want to determine exactly what you will be doing during your individual study blocks.

The general idea is to use the 50:10 minute rule.

This means you study for 50 minutes then take 10 minute break and repeat the process 2x more. After three hours of consecutive studying you will need a break. Schedule a break for at least one hour if you have been studying for three hours straight because your brain will need the time to relax.


Your body needs sleep and a good amount of it on a regular basis. I'm very guilty of not getting enough sleep.

As a medical student getting 7-8hrs of sleep each night is important. There are a ton of studies that illustrate the importance of sleep so I'm not going to waste your time trying to prove this fact. But get sleep because your brain actually consolidates the material you were learning during sleep.

It may seem like there's not enough time to sleep 8hrs every night but try it. Plus, with the new schedule you will be on you are going to be more efficient throughout the day and can afford to get the necessary amount of sleep you need.

What's another medical school tip?

You have to constantly review and go over the material multiple times.

I've always gotten by for the most part by looking at material once or twice at most and then being able to do well on exams. But medical school is an entirely different ball game. It takes multiple passes and reviews for the material to stick well enough to get top grades in medical school.

Here's what you need to do.

You have to self-test yourself on the material. What this means is testing yourself on the material you are studying without looking at the material first. What you want to do is see how much you can recall on your own and then review the material. Ways to self test are to pretend you are teaching what you have learned to a high school student or a younger sibling. Or you can make questions and see if you can answer them.

The overall goal is to gain mastery of the material so you can do great on your medical school exams. It begins with self-testing before reviewing. Anyone can look at something and then recall it a few moments later. True mastery comes when you try to recall what you studied earlier in the day or from the previous day from memory and then review to determine how much you actually recall.

If you have access to practice quizzes and tests do not wait until a few days before the exam to do those problems. Do the questions throughout the semester to gain true mastery. The questions you get wrong will tell you where you need to focus your time and energy.

Besides by the time the test rolls around it may be too late to fix what you don't know. That's why it is always best to do the practice questions as you come across the topics in your studying.

As my anatomy professors would tell us, "By the time your exam comes around on Monday, the weekend should be used to review and fix any deficients you should not be using the weekend to learn material for the first time." Now was I able to follow this advice, nope. Should you follow this advice, yes.

Work in study groups.

I can't tell you how many times I have gotten questions correct on a medical school test just because I studied in a group. Each of your classmates has a unique perspective on the material and may mention something they think is important that you may not have considered. When this takes place it definitely will help boost your medical school test scores.

I would encourage you to use your time wisely with study groups. The best advice is to study on your own at first and then meet with your group to solidify concepts.

When you meet with your group be sure they are studious students where when you are studying together you are actually making academic progress and not having social time. Save the social stuff for after the exam celebrations.

Follow these medical school tips and great things will happen to you on your journey towards becoming a doctor.


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