Holy Grail

As I said before, I’ve really struggled with classes where you have tons of seemingly random facts and names to memorize… namely, med micro and pharmacology. For the last part of last block, I tried out a new way of studying, and it increased my exam grade by 20 points. Since it worked, I figured why not apply my new method of studying to my new block? So I did. After all these semesters of struggle, I think I have finally figured out the holy grail to good learning for me.

Disclaimer: different methods work different ways for different people. One just has to figure it out what it is. This just happens to be mine.

Holy Grail to Good Learning for Pharm:

1. Attend lecture. Record audio for each slide on ipad. write notes on slide.

2. Go back home, skim over the entire lecture. Write an outline of all the categories and drugs, trying to keep it all within a page or two.

3. play back and listen again to the lecture. fill in details you may have missed into the slides. go through each slide, and fill in the details into your written outline. make connections between pieces of information as needed.

4. Review and talk through your notes with a study partner. Come up with mnemonics or ways of remembering as needed.

5. Create simple questions from your notes, preferably those where the answers are the drug names.

6. Go over questions by yourself.

7. Go over questions with a study partner.

8. Skim over everything briefly in preparation of exam.

This new method got me a 98 on my recent exam.

I should have started this a long time ago, but as I can’t turn back time, all I can do now is look forward. I will be studying like this from now on to really prepare me for my exams.

6 comments to Holy Grail

  • Kay

    Hey Benji,

    I was just wondering, do you not use this method while studying for other classes? I wouldn’t think there would be enough time to watch every lecture over again.


    • Benji

      Hey Kay,
      I only use this method to study for the classes I have the trouble most. Pharm is the only course I record the lecture for. Other classes like Behavioral Science or Medical Ethics I can learn well without spending as much time.

  • Danielle

    Hi Benji,

    I am planning on starting AUC in September and had a couple questions for you. You mentioned that you use your Ipad during lectures. I am thinking of using an Ipad to take notes and was wondering if you use yours in every class. Do you find it just as easy or better than taking notes by hand? Are there certain apps you find particularly useful?

    Your blog is so helpful!


    • Benji

      Hi Danielle,

      I highly recommend the iPad for taking notes in class, and in my opinion it’s so much better than writing paper notes. I would also recommend getting a stylus along with the iPad to make writing on the ipad a lot easier. I personally got the stylus made by Targus. I’ve also heard the Pogo is pretty good too.

      The app I use for taking notes is Noterize. With Noterize, you can directly download the lecture slides from ANGEL (which is where all the lectures slides are posted on AUC). It allows you to download in any format: powerpoint, pdf, word document, you name it. You can take notes directly on the lecture slides you download, with different colors and widths to choose from. You can also hightlight on the notes in different colors as well. You can also type on there.

      The most useful thing I find with Noterize is the built-in capability to record the audio for each lecture slide. As you go from slide to slide, Noterize automatically records what the professor says for each slide. It’s especially useful when I can just play-back the audio when I go back and study my lecture notes after class to see if there’s anything I missed.

      The ipad has definitely improved the way I learn, and along with Noterize (which only costs $3), have made studying, taking notes, and navigating through lecture recordings a whole lot easier.

      Thanks for the question and let me know if there’s anything else!


  • John

    Hey Benji,

    After reading your post and replies above, I didn’t see you mention anything about reading your medical text books. Your study approach seems to be more focused on refining your lecture notes. How much emphasis did you place on reading your medical text books vs. studying organized notes using your ipad?

    You have a great blog!



  • Benji

    Hi John,
    For some classes, textbooks are useful, such as using BRS for Anatomy or Robbins for Pathology. For others, like MCB I or Histology, you’ll find that lecture notes are more than enough to let you understand the material. Some professors, like Dr. DeMesquita for neuro or some of the professors in Physiology, give you additional detailed material that they have written that supplements their lectures (which I highly suggest reading). Most classes have suggested textbooks, but for the most part, I’d suggest using textbooks as references, rather than as the central source for your learning. Just with the lecture notes alone, there’s already more than enough to study, and it’s better use of your time to learn it well. Best of luck!

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