Exam Preparation

Advice For All Students

We at Medical Student Education (MSE) care about your success as a medical student. The advice below is intended to help you consider ways to maximize your education. Because everyone learns differently and has unique circumstances, we encourage you to talk to the Learning Specialist or your Lead Advisor to help you create an individualized plan for your studies.

For ALL students:

  • Developing a study schedule can help you manage your time and make you accountable to yourself a visual calendar is a great way to keep you on track. We advise you to allow time for sleeping, eating, exercising and having fun.
  • Knowing the material “backwards and forwards,” will help you prepare for exams. An exam question might ask about an anatomical part or structure, function or dysfunction. For example, a question might provide background on an accident that occurred to a patient and then ask you to identify a nerve that was injured based on a description of what the patient unable to do.  
  • Quizing yourself about course material in different ways will help you determine if you are prepared for your next exam. You can seek practice questions from different sources or write your own questions in diverse ways.
  • Drawing or tracing diagrams of anatomical structures and writing help build your memory. Using a color coded system will assist you in distinguishing between artery paths, nerve paths, etc. It is recommended that you use the same color coded system in all of your classes.
  • Some students like to use drive or exercise time to listen to pod casts of lectures. Other students prefer to use this as time away from their studies. We encourage you to experiment and see if this strategy is helpful for you.
  • Making a list of the concepts you struggle can serve as a guide for what to study.
  • Looking at the big picture and seeing how the parts fit into it will help to synthesize information.
  • Mnemonics can aid memory.
  • If you struggle with a concept, try reading about it in a different textbook. Sometimes an alternative explanation will help you better understand the concept
  • Pre-reading before every class will familiarize you with the concepts and vocabulary.
  • If you review your notes for every class within 24 hours, it will be easier to fill in anything you may have missed. You are more likely to remember the information in the first 24 hours. 

Working with Study Groups

Working with study groups - Treating study groups like business meetings will maximize the group’s success in preparing for an exam. Study groups to can help you test your knowledge, but are less effective for learning new information. The following tips can help the group stay on topic:

Set an agenda –

  1. What topics will the group review? Focus on the topics that are the most difficult for the majority of the group. Avoid topics most people understand.
  2. What are the start and stop times?
    1. Start and stop on time
    2. Determine the amount of time you will spend on each topic
    3. If necessary assign a time keeper who can tell the group when the time for a specific topic is about to expire
    4. Require each group member to write some questions to bring to the group – this will help you prepare for answering questions.
    5. Consider inviting a tutor to run a group study session. 

Students with Non-Science Backgrounds

Recommended preparation:

  • Flashcards – buy or make them yourself. You can use Anki for an electronic version.
  • Attend class
  • Attend review sessions

Students with Family Responsibilities

  • Set boundaries
  • Make a study schedule and stick to it
  • If you need to alter your schedule, insure you can “make up” that time
Students Who Have Been Out of School More Than Two Years

How are you studying?

We encourage you to create an individualized study plan with the Learning Specialist or your Lead Advisor

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