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Medical Students’ Study Methods For Excellence… (Series One)

There are a lot of new realities in a medical school, different from what obtains in a conventional tertiary institution. I know this because, before I got into medical school, I had gone through an A-Levels program in the Kwara State College of Education. A wonderful unique experience altogether.

The 18-month program did not prepare me, in any way, to what I was to face in my Alma mata. Almost 95% of new students in med school, did not imagine that this was the kind of life you get to sign up for.

Actual work in a proper medical school starts in earnest. Almost like they don’t ever want medical students to get a breather. From Day one, it is all work, work, and more work.

Now this is where most medical students get it wrong… this is the point that marks the distinction candidates from the mere ‘simpletons’. Having gone through medical school, I thought I should put out this tips to all students, medical students or not… It is proven and tested!!!

I have decided to arrange these study methods in series… For this Series One, I will be putting down points in general terms. In subsequent series, I will be giving detailed analysis of these methods, so that it becomes very easy to practically execute.

These study methods have been selected because there seems to be a universal concurrence that it works for almost everyone. So here it is!!….


Students generally feel that once lectures have not started, then holiday continues. WRONG!!! Note that distinction candidates in medical school begin to work very early, some even work while the break is on. You simply have to Make Hay While The Sun Shines.

It takes nothing to bring out your text book and begin to flip through. Observe the pictures, read past courses, read older notes just for the fun of it. Make sure you find concrete reasons to begin work as soon as you resume on campus.

Pictures, Info graphs Are Needed:

Every medical student is expected to memorize volumes of academic works, which would include some schematics, pictures, pathways, tables, graphs etc. The list is endless.

I was able to memorize the periodic table back then in my Biochemistry class by simply drawing it out on a large cardboard paper and pasting it beside my bed. Whenever I wake up, it is usually the first thing I see. I would then proceed to attempt to reproduce this table, without looking at the diagram on the wall, day after day. Until one day, I got it right.

Never underestimate the power of your sight. You would be surprised how pictures from text, or infographic drawn out from a schematic can stick in your memory, making you stand out among your peers.

Pneumonics, Codes, Tags:

The volumes to read is so huge and could be discouraging, if not intimidating. But with codes, tags and ‘short-forms’, many students are able to grasp pages upon pages, without beating a sweat. This form of learning allows the very imaginative medical mind to explore endless combinations of words, with the aim of tagging it with anatomy body part, a disease condition, a schematic, anything at all.

Study Groups of Threes and Fours:

My Medical school experience have proven to me that an isolated medical student have a greater chance at failing quizzes or exams. This concepts is quite strange, especially for a new medical student who is just coming into an entirely new environment and may have never had to depend on some other persons to be academically successful.

But new entrants learn quick that to survive in a medical school means to completely depend on other individuals in a closely knitted group study. This is true. Medical students understand the value of studying in groups and may have developed this concept as a survival means in a ‘harsh terrain’.

Be Active and Involved

Unlike some other university courses, the training to become a medical doctor requires the active participation and the physical presence of students. I must stress that being physically present is the key… it matters less whether you are paying attention or not.

Make sure you are deeply involved in the process. Getting a hands on experience would most times suffice for long hours of reading. Staying away from practical sessions, didactic sessions, ward rounds, lab work, is simply the best and easiest way to fail out of medical school.. #FACT.

As promised in the beginning, I have tried to give some general methods that are quite common and basic, but make no mistake about this; Study methods are individualistic and personal. Getting to know one self (what do you like to eat?, are you nocturnal? etc), is usually the first way to go.

Series Two will begin from Individualistic and Personal Study Methods… It promises to be rich and practical.
For questions and comments on your study methods, feel free to drop them in the comment box, I would personal answer them all… 


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The Admin is a Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Certified Medical Doctor, with profound expertise in Medical Content Creation and Medical Citizen Journalism. He is popular for being a fast rising online voice in Nigeria, with a flair for animated writing. He is a professional health content writer. He loves to swim, read and play board games. He see himself as one who is destined to play a role in the way health services are rendered to the human race.