Study Tips for First Semester

I recently received a message from a blog reader asking about study tips for first semester classes. Here, I’d like to share my response to him.

Hi Benji,
I wanted to ask you if you had ANY study tips at all for me as they will be greatly appreciated. Also if you could tell me the best study method/s for each different class for 1st semester, I feel like it would help me. Especially for anatomy. Thanks.

Hey K,

The most important tip is to keep up with the material everyday. If you fall behind, it is hard to catch up again since there’s lots of new material coming in each day. Make sure you have had enough time to go over the material by yourself before you go to tutoring sessions, which are very helpful.

For anatomy lab, I have three big suggestions:

1. Definitely go to the after-hour lab sessions with the night TAs, which take place every Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Thursday from 7:30 -8:30pm or something like that (they’ll announce the time to you in class). I found going after-hours was very useful because the lab is not crowded and you get a lot of personal one-on-one time with the TAs as well as the cadavers.

2. Look over Netter’s Anatomy Atlas the night before labs to get familiar with what you are cutting before you cut. Anatomy is a lot of memorization which requires repetition, and so it is not a good use of time to learn anatomy on the spot during dissection. Instead, preview the material in Netter’s once before dissection (to know what to expect when you cut), learn it again during dissection (as you cut), and then review it again after dissection during the after-hour lab sessions (to see what you just cut).

3. Attend every anatomy lab mock practical exam, which take place the week before block exams. The mock exam is a great review of both the lab practical exam and the anatomy lecture exam. The questions are written by TAs, who are upper semester students that were chosen to become TAs because they have excelled in Anatomy during their first semester. The TAs have lots of experience on what is important and what is commonly tested on the exams, and this is reflected in the questions they write for the mock practical exam.

For MCB, do the practice questions that Dr. Macintosh gives you. If you can do those questions, then you can do the exam, because they cover the same key concepts in genetics.

Learn Histology well because the things you learn in that class will show up again and again in Pathology I and II, and not to mention the comp exams you take during fifth semester. Definitely look at a lot of histology pictures and know how to recognize them instantly. Know what looks “normal” so that you can recognize when something looks “abnormal.”

Hope this helps!
Good luck!