How To Study In Med School

MCAT QuestionsAllison Greco has kindly agreed to answer some of the top questions our community wants answered. Allison is a medical student in the class of 2013 and has a great passion for social media. You can follow her on twitter @grecoa3.

I’m a follower of your blog and twitter (@iPikl25), and I’ve been reading a few of your posts that I wanted to ask your advice on. You mentioned how you need frequent breaks to keep going. I’ll be starting medical school in the Fall and figuring out how to study is my biggest fear. So basically I wanted your advice on how you studied in med school. ~ Question from Sophia of Notes In My White Coat.

I have good news and bad news in regards to my answer for your question. The good news is that no, you don’t NEED to study the exact same way as everyone else and shouldn’t spend your time stressing over it. The bad news is that I definitely wouldn’t recommend being too lax when it comes to studying.

Bad news first: Medical school IS hard, and it’s probably not like anything you’ve ever done before. It’s probably the hardest you’ll ever work or study. It’s a lot easier to study TOO much in the beginning- it’s easier to start out with a strong grade in the event that you struggle later in the course on rather than struggle at the beginning and spend the rest of the course chasing a passing grade.

As a warning, you will probably NEVER feel prepared for a test. You’ll feel like you don’t know anything at all. All of this is normal, and it’s okay. Don’t let anyone make you inferior for that (chances are they feel the same way about something else). Most schools have pass-fail-honors grading systems, so if there is a class that just isn’t for you, its okay to save your sanity and get by with just a passing grade. With that said, you WILL need to take a the united states medical licensing exam (USMLE) sometime during or after your second year. The test encompasses everything you learn in those first two years (but please don’t stress about it yet!). It’s much easier to study for this test if you really, REALLY learned the material the first time over.

Finally, the good news: Don’t forget to take time for yourself. Most students took one day a week to do something fun. I liked to work out for about an hour a day, and unless there was some crazy circumstance or a huge exam. I also NEVER missed one of my prime-time TV shows. You’ll stress a lot in the beginning, but as time passes, you’ll become more comfortable with how much you need to study, and what your exam formats are like.

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