Study LESS, Study SMART – What I Wish I Knew in College


I would bet that you are not studying anywhere
nearly as effectively as you could be. And why should you care? Well, if you study more effectively, you can
learn more and retain more in less time. That translates to less time studying, better
grades, and more time doing the things you actually enjoy. In this video, we’ll cover all of the study
hacks I learned in medical school, and what I wish I knew back in college. What’s going on guys, Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. This video is an updated version of my first
ever video: “Premed Study Strategies – What I Wish I Knew in College”. By following the tips in this video, you’ll
be studying less and earning better grades immediately. I just wish I was studying like this sooner. Without further ado, let’s get to it. First, active versus passive learning. The default studying pattern we all employ
is passive learning. It’s easier, requires less effort, and overall
is just more comfortable. Active learning is more challenging, it’s
less comfortable, but is ultimately much more effective. There are 4 Steps we must address to actually
use active learning. Steps 1 and 2 are about obtaining the
information, and Steps 3 and 4 are about reviewing and reinforcing the information. The first Step is to identify what is important. Not all information is created equal. To employ active learning, you must constantly
be sorting information and assessing its relative importance. Second, organize the information in a way
that you understand. Again, as an active process, this isn’t going
to be just copying and regurgitating information, instead you are going to be doing the difficult
task of synthesizing the information in your own words, in diagrams or in other study aids. For example, I loved creating tables and charts. Let’s say I was comparing macro-minerals,
like sodium, potassium and chloride in the GI system. I would take the extra time and effort to
extract the relevant information and organize it in a chart format. The process of creating this chart was enough
to improve my understanding of the concepts and now I also had an excellent study tool
to review at a later date. Number three, memorize. You need to memorize the information in an
active way. I’ll get to how to do that later. And lastly, apply the information. You can do practice questions from the textbook
or online services. Old practice tests or practice quizzes from
your professor are also fantastic resources. Next, let’s talk about your studying environment. This is an area requiring more personalization,
so it’s key that you figure out what works best for you. First, the location. Do you prefer coffee shops and libraries,
or studying at home? If you’ve seen the video of my workspace,
then you understand why I love working at home. Many people do however get easily distracted
at home and that is why they prefer the coffee shop or library since helps them focus on
the work at hand. Next, group versus solo studying. Are you studying by yourself or with other
people? My split varied but it was roughly 50/50. Maybe a little bit more time studying solo. In group study the rate of reviewing material
is slower but the main benefit is working through and reinforcing difficult concepts
while also keeping you motivated and sane. That being said, groups need to be small. Study with only one or two other people. Groups larger than this have severely diminishing
returns because you are going to get distracted and your productivity will plummet. One of the biggest advantages to group study
is the ability to teach what you have learned. This teaching reinforces the material for
yourself and you also help out your friends and classmates. I go over how to use a strategy in my Fineman
Technique video. Now, there is a trade-off between novel stimuli
and maintaining a routine. Novel stimuli such as varying your study location
has been demonstrated to improve recall and retention. However, for some this works directly against
the benefits of a routine. The routine of waking up at the same time,
studying in the same place, etcetera, may facilitate productivity and fight off procrastination. The novel stimuli of studying in new locations
and with new people may impede your ability to get into the groove and maintain productivity
long term. I found myself studying in usually the same
spaces. Either I was in my med school in the empty
classrooms, which is when I usually did group study, or I was at home studying solo with
my optimal setup. Now, in terms of timing and pacing, one of
my all-time favorite study hacks is the Pomodoro Technique. Essentially, you focus on one task, study
in these 25-minute blocks, take five minute breaks and it sounds very simple but it actually
is super effective at fighting procrastination, improving your focus and maintaining endurance. I go over how you can use it most effectively
in my Pomodoro video. Third, let’s talk about obtaining the information. Generally, you’re going to be obtaining information
in one of two ways as a pre-med, either lecture or textbooks. During lecture, most of us follow along with
our own copy of the Powerpoint and we just take notes in the comments section. This is a very passive way of learning. Here are some other options to improve your
methods of obtaining information. First, consider writing versus typing your
notes. Each, of course, has its pros and cons. Typing is faster which sounds great initially,
but if you type faster you are able to transcribe what the professor is saying verbatim. That is not good. This is a very passive way of taking notes. By writing, you generally write much slower
and therefore you have to emphasize the important information and rephrase and organize it into
your own words. Writing in comparison to typing has also been
demonstrated to improve recall possibly due to the increased motor coordination required
for writing. When I was in med school, styluses aren’t
what they are today and I opted for typing in some classes and writing on paper in others,
particularly for my summary sheets, which we’ll get to later. But now with the Surface Pro and the iPad
Pro with Apple Pencil you can get the best of both worlds. Check out my video on how to most effectively
take notes with the iPad and Apple Pencil. Second, let’s talk about lecture versus podcast. Your school may offer audio or video recordings
of your lectures. And for me, this worked best. However, there are of course distinct advantages
to attending lectures in person. For lecture, you have this set routine and
you’re surrounded by other people who are doing the exact same thing. It helps reduce distraction and encourages
you to be engaged in the lecture at least more so than if you were listening to a podcast
at home. You’re also able to ask questions in real
time. But the podcast on the other hand, gives you
the flexibility to watch whenever you want, meaning you can watch the lecture on your
own schedule when you’re well-rested and feeling fresh. You can also watch it at increased speeds. I personally opted for 1.5x or 2x playback
speed. Zoning out with slow speaking lectures was
a big issue for me and that’s why I love the ability to speed up the podcast because it
helped keep me engaged and focused. That being said, be careful of the temptation
of podcasting because it requires a great deal of discipline to stay on track and not
fall behind. If you are the type of student who would procrastinate
with podcasting, do yourself a favor and stick to attending lectures instead. Okay, now let’s talk about rewatching lectures. This is a total waste of time. I understand the thought process behind it
– you want to make sure you didn’t miss anything important and you want to reinforce the content. Repetition. The problem is that rewatching lectures is
extremely passive, even more so than attending it the first time. Your time is better spent reviewing the information,
synthesizing it and doing active learning, questions, flashcards, etcetera. Do not rewatch the lectures or re-listen to
recordings. Use your textbook, other resources, your classmates
or your professors office hours if you need clarification. Now, let’s move on to textbooks. I used to highlight the textbooks and read
my highlights several times to review prior to exams, but that’s obviously a terribly
passive way to study. Reviewing your PowerPoint slides or Word documents
is equally ineffective. Instead, make the process as active as you
can, even at the time of initial exposure. Using either your computer or notepad, summarize
what you read into your own words. By doing this, you are identifying the important
information and organizing it in a way that you will understand – this whole process
will ultimately drastically improve your recall during test time. Lastly, let’s cover memorization. Memorization is arguably the toughest part
of studying, at least for most students. There are a few different methods you can
use to memorize information much faster and much more effectively. First, summary sheets which some people like
to call condensed notes. One of the best ways to memorize is to summarize
the information. Let’s say you have three pages of notes for
one lecture. Condense them into one page by organizing
and restructuring the information into smaller chunks. And I don’t just mean decreasing the font
size, adjusting the margins, I mean actually go through and read your notes carefully and
extract the highest yield points and rephrase them again into your own words. This process of condensing alone is a form
of active learning and it will reinforce the material. But now, you also have this condensed study
resource that you can review at a later date. One of the most powerful ways to memorize
information is spaced repetition. We know that repetition is key to memorization. The idea here is that after each review, you
can increase the interval between reviews. For example, you are exposed to the information
on day zero, then you see it again after 24 hours, then after that another 72 hours, etcetera. Instead of reviewing it every day, you only
review it right before you’re about to forget. To perform spaced repetition on your own requires
a lot of scheduling and it’s not feasible. That’s why you need to use software like Anki. I have a playlist of tutorials that go over
exactly how to use it. I recommend that you make your own flashcards
within Anki and review them daily. By making your own cards (versus just taking
someone else’s), you are again taking advantage of the active learning process. Reviewing your cards daily is also key, because
otherwise you won’t be taking advantage of the spaced repetition. A big reason why flashcards are so effective
is because you’re using recall rather than recognition. Recognition shows you the right answer and
you tell yourself, “Oh, yeah. I recognize that.” Whereas recall requires you to extract the
information on the fly which is ultimately more similar to test day. The beautiful thing about flashcards is you
don’t have to sit down and spend 30 or 60 minutes at once. To get through all my cards each day I would
just open the Anki app on my phone at any brief moment of downtime. I will go through cards when I was, you know,
waiting in line at a restaurant or getting groceries or waiting for a friend. In those few minutes, I was able to perform
a handful of cards but this adds up throughout the day. In order to sit down and review one lecture
it’s going to take you 20 minutes at least. But if you do a few flashcards you just need
a few minutes. Now, these are all of the strategies that
I honed during medical school. If I went deep into each topic this video
would be ten times the length. If you’d like to know more about memorization,
Pomodoro, the Fineman Technique, or any other study strategy that I mentioned in this video,
there are links down in the description to teach you more. Let me know down in the comments what your
favorite study hack is or if you want me to cover another study strategy in an upcoming
video. Thank you all so much for watching. Happy studying. Good luck. And I will see you guys in that next one. [Music]

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