Medical school is very different from learning at school – the main difference being the independent learning style. In lectures, information is explained slide by slide and very quickly so it’s important that you prepare for lectures to keep up with the sheer volume of information.
In order to find a learning technique that works for you, it would firstly be important to look back at how you revised in school – note writing, diagrams, researching – and then adapt these techniques. Usually a combination of two or three types of things is the best to get things to sink in. These could include asking questions after a lecture, researching around the topic, watching videos, making flashcards or mind maps. So here are a few tips to help you be better prepared for lectures before you go in!
Looking at the content of a lecture before attending ensures that you have an idea of the topic so you won’t be completely lost. This also gives you a chance to research anything you may be unaware of and you’ll also have a base knowledge so you can make the most of the lecturers’ explanations.
Recording the lectures may be a really useful technique that maximises the information you can take in, as taking notes throughout the lecture may mean you miss something. Watching videos is also very useful to help you understand topics better, so if some of your lectures are recorded it may help to watch these. This way you can revise every little side topic of the lecture and not miss any important details.
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This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easy it is to get a week behind on lectures – and the reason why? You tell yourself that you’ll go over the material at the weekend, or tomorrow, or next week… It’s a good idea to solidify what you’ve learnt that day whilst it’s still fresh in your mind. Making sure you keep going over topics also makes it easier for your brain to recall that information a couple of months down the line when you find yourself revising for exams!
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Making notes is important to make sure you have a record of everything you’ve learnt, and it makes it easier to quickly look something up. A good way to revise is to get a page of notes on a certain topic, read them and then cover them up. On a blank sheet of paper, make a mind map of everything you can remember on the topic from the notes. This will give you a good indication of how well you know something and can guide you on how much time you spend on it during revision.
Drawing diagrams for something like anatomy is super useful as it not only gives you a visual representation in your notes but it forces you to study every detail of the component in order to draw it. Making summaries at the end of your notes can make sure you definitely know the most important core knowledge, as you can’t learn the details without first having the base knowledge! Good luck!
Words: Kate Gillespie
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