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!

9 comments to Study Tips for First Semester

  • Megan

    How did you study for anatomy lecture?

    • Benji

      Hi Megan, for anatomy I went to tutoring sessions and studied the slides. For lab, I went after hours into the lab with friends and got help from the Night TAs. Best of luck!

  • Megan

    Thanks so much! I am taking it now at AUC and understand why people say it is th class from hell lol

  • Noura

    Hi Benji! I am applying to AUC, and as everything becomes more realistic, I am becoming more anxious. I wanted to ask you how was your study schedule, I have read your posts about the class schedule, but I am asking about your study schedule. How did you break down your day? When did you start studying? Thank you so much for your help!!!!!

    • Benji

      Hi Noura, don’t fret! Med school is a lot of work, but you’ll eventually find a study pace that works for you. I wouldn’t say I necessarily had a study schedule. Just keep up with the material everyday, and don’t fall behind, however long that takes you to do. If there’s something you don’t understand, spend more time on it. Everyone is different, and some people may need to spend more time than others in studying to absorb the same amount of material.

  • Donya H

    Hi Benji!

    Firstly, thank you for making such a wonderful blog! And congratulations on matching! I have been accepted for the May class and I am eager to start! I have been following your blog excessively and it has been so useful! I have practically used all your tips. So, again, thank you! I wanted to ask you how often you used the books? Were most of the material posted on the slides and the books basically a reference? And will the professors post the lectures beforehand and is there a way to print them in the library or at an on-campus printing center? Thank you!

    • Benji

      Hi Donya, thanks for reading my blog and congratulations on your acceptance to AUC! You are right in that books should only be used as reference and your main source of study should be from the lecture slides and the notes you take from class. For your class, all the books are provided for you via an online platform called Vital Source, so it’s not necessary to purchase books, unless you want to. All lecture slides are available free for download before lecture via ANGEL. You’ll get an ID and password during registration/orientation. Notes Services on campus provides a lecture slides printing service for a fee that is popular among many students who prefer paper notes. Best of luck this May!

  • Tobi AIna

    Hi Benji,

    Thanks for the blog. The sheer scale of information on this blog is a little overwhelming but i’m hanging in there. In preparation for block exams (comparable to midterms I’m guessing?), did you rewrite your lecture notes to include the notes taken in class? What was your strategy to tackle said exams?

    • Benji

      Thanks for reading my blog. Block exams are not midterm exams. Block exams are exams you take after every 3-4 weeks of lectures (a “block”). Each semester is divided into 4 blocks and therefore you have 4 sets of block exams as well. For each block exam, you take 3 exams, one for each of your three lecture classes.
      There are many ways people study. I liked to annotate the lecture slides with my own personal notes and notes I got from class.

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