The Study Routine That Got Me Into Medical School

Authored by: Brandon P.

I went from a low GPA (3.1 freshman year, 2.3 first semester sophomore year to 4.0 afterwards), the general rule is 3 hours per 1 credit hour, but that is HIGHLY variable. For example, I took a language class for five credits that I already knew (needed it for my major), and I probably spent fifteen minutes a week on the work. But for a three credit class I may have spent 12 hours a week because it was so difficult. You sort of have to feel it out and you’ll get a vibe.

I study everyday, because I like to have it in my head. I study about four to six hours a day (it’s a lot of overstudying, but read on why), mostly organizing, reading, rewriting, making flash cards, and doing practice problems (very, very important). I was previously a chemistry major, but I sort of feel out of love with it and switched to what I really wanted to do, biology. It’s very refreshing to be in classes that you actually enjoy, it feels like you’re not even doing work when studying. Active recall is key, you can google it because there is a lot of information on it, but basically it boils down to don’t re-read your notes for 8 hours a day before the exam.

About a week or two before an exam I start to make a exam folder with all the topics and subject matter and begin to make final revisions to the combined lecture and reading notes and sort of make a master file and study out of it, basically using active recall and doing practice problems.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the book is almost always mandatory. I feel like most people, myself included, learn better, faster, and more efficiently from reading the book. If you think about it, how can a professor possibly fit a whole course in 2.5 hours a week. You sort of have to go to your own initiative to learn it from the book, preferably before the lecture. I like to stay ahead of the professor, it makes lecture more enjoyable and you can think of questions better. Its good to add lecture notes to your textbook notes from the independent reading.

Also go to office hours, because learning is asking questions, and most professors like getting students in office hours. I did research for a chemistry professor and he was always sad when no one came to office hours. Its mostly the higher level classes that don’t get a lot because A) they don’t care, or B) they think they know it all. Its also good because I once went for extra help with asking if he had recommendations for extra practice problems, and he ended up giving me a bunch of problems that were identical and very, very similar to the exams.

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