Real Advice- What Does It Take To Be #1 In Your Medical School Class?

Authored by: Hussain W.

I studied with a small group of students every night, each of whom was an A or A- student in most classes. We studied until after midnight most nights, and usually for a solid 8-10 hours at least one day out of the weekend. We were constantly ahead of the material, preparing for lectures 1-2 weeks in advance and repeatedly quizzing each other on the topic before it was even taught. Lectures reinforced what we already knew and gave us an idea of what the professor thought was important, as a key toward where the exam focus would be. We shared notes and study materials, and people who seemed to have a better grasp on one topic or another would help teach the rest. Repetition, quizzing, mock exams (written and practical), mnemonics, whatever we could come up with. You saw that stuff in your sleep. I could tell you which page in Netter a particular plate was on – and then where on that page the label to the structure in question was, and what structure labels were nearby.

That was M1. For M2, the group got smaller as people burned out on that. There were 3 or 4 of us left behind, and the preparation wasn’t as intense – nor was lecture attendance. We kind of figured out that an hour spent in lecture was a waste of time compared with an hour of group study, so we spent most of our time in group.

Honestly, the most important factor to all of it was finding a small group of smart people who were motivated to do well and willing to put the time in to make it happen. I wouldn’t have done it on my own, but if you surround yourself with gunners, you don’t want to be the one who comes in last in the group. (And yes, we gave that person shit, and it motivated him/her to do better the next time.) The funny thing was, we all just kind of found each other – no one posted a flyer saying “super gunner study group forming”. But we were all around school a lot and just fell in together as we got closer to the first set of exams. We were 100% committed to being at the top of the class, and nothing else mattered.

I couldn’t do it again. I was 22 and full of energy back then. I think a week of that now would probably kill me, let alone 2 years of it.

(and since it was suggested here – we didn’t have old exams, and as far as I know no one was cheating. It was a combination of intelligence and brute force. And we did get the esoteric questions right, the ones that might have only been touched on in lecture, or that were only in the reading. It was a badge of honor after a test to hear people asking “WTF was that? He never talked about that” and knowing exactly where in the notes it was.)

(end bragging – I wish I still had 10% of the motivation I had back then. Ah, to be young again)

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