When you start medical school, one of the things you'll hear a million times is "the way you studied in undergrad won't work here." That statement is not ALL true. You were obviously doing something right this whole time if you've made it this far. However, there will be adjustments to make! With so much info coming your way (the old fire hydrant lololll), you'll want to study in a way that will help you to truly learn the material instead of attempting to memorize it. Passive learning (just reading the textbook, rewriting notes, etc) is the enemy in medical school because it leads to recognition instead of recall, and you need the latter to succeed. Finding ways to study actively aids recall, is more time effective, and will make you a happier medical student! There are way more strategies out there than the ones I'll share, but these are my favorite ways to study actively and they should help you get started!

 Identify Your Learning Style
The first key to success is to figure out how you're able to learn best! Once you identify the way that you process information, you can tailor your studying to max out on your strengths. I'm an audio/visual learner, so I do best when I can incorporate youtube videos and draw things out. That's just me, but if you happen to be kinesthetic learner for example, there are other strategies that may work better for you. I was able to take an assessment through the Learning Skills Office in my undergrad to figure this out, but there are a lot of free quizzes online! You may want to give one of these a try 1, 2

② Blank Paging
This could also be called "Blank Boarding" if you decide to use a dry erase board. Basically, you take a blank sheet of paper (or a blank board!) and write a main idea on top or in the middle of it. Then, without referring to any outside material, you write as much as you possibly can about that topic on the paper. It's not meant to be pretty, but it forces you to recall processes, facts, and connections cold in the same way you would have to on a test. It also helps you to identify what material you just recognize instead of really knowing it. After you've written and drawn everything that you can on the paper, you can refer to your materials and fill in any gaps in your knowledge. Ideally, you should blank page the same topic again in the near future to make sure you don't forget any of the same things again! Here's an example of a blank page that I did then filled in from Block 1!

③ Write Your Own Questions
Sometimes the best way to get prepared for a test is to think like a test maker! I write questions to get the main points out of a lecture and to make sure I can answer all of the learning objectives without referring to any additional material. Writing questions can be as simple as restating the learning objectives in question format or as complex as coming up with your own clinical vignettes. I keep it pretty simple and even though I haven't had a question I've written come up on an exam verbatim, I've been tested on the exact concepts or ideas from my questions many times! Below you'll find a few sample q's from a metabolism lecture in Block 3. When I'm reviewing for the final, I'm able to copy a blank page with the questions to make sure I can still answer them!

④ Work in Groups
For all you independent studiers out there, I sympathize with you because I am one of you LOL However, studying in a group (if you find the right one) can be extremely beneficial to you! I don't do group study all of the time because I need to study on my own first before getting into a group, but when I do, it works really well! It's okay to mix it up sometimes and there's no need to solely independent study or solely group study. What's great about working in a group is that everyone has different strengths and can teach them to everyone else. Not only is it helpful for the people learning, it's helpful for the person teaching (ever heard of see one, do one, teach one!?) because it really solidifies that you have an understanding of the concept. One thing we did was write topics, structures, factors, and key words for the exam on strips of paper, put them in a container and pulled them at random. The person who pulled it would try to explain it first then others could add in. Other groups would assign topics from the week and each person was responsible for teaching a topic to the group. I also fond it very helpful to work on cases (ex: the ones from Costanzo) in groups because the discussion always went beyond the written answer rationale. 


These tips are not all inclusive, but I hope they get you started while you figure out how to study actively in medical school! What tips and tricks do you use? Comment below!