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  • There's a great deal of misinformation and resulting confusion

  • in the world of study strategies and optimization.

  • To this day, I still get frequent questions from students about the relative utility of various study methods.

  • Let's cover the most popular techniques and go over each of their pros and cons.

  • Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com.

  • Let's first dispel the most common myth -

  • that you must study harder to do better in class.

  • If you're already studying a few hours per day,

  • the quality of those study sessions becomes far more important than the total duration.

  • Knowing that, how can we determine what constitutes high-quality studying?

  • Here's the good, the ok, and the useless of study strategies.

  • Passive forms of learning are what we all default to.

  • They're what we've been taught in grade school, and they're much easier to do than active forms of learning.

  • They feel comfortable, familiar, and allow us to feel good about ourselves

  • and our productivity without having to venture too far out of our comfort zones.

  • The most common form of passive studying would be

  • re-reading your class notes again and again to reinforce the information.

  • While repetition is certainly important when learning new information,

  • active recall with spaced repetition is far more effective than passive methods.

  • Another crowd favorite is highlighting in a textbook

  • and simply re-reading those highlights to study the information.

  • Again, passive reinforcement in this manner is very weak and not a good use of your time.

  • Re-listening to lecture audio recordings is another poor use of time.

  • Generally speaking, any time you are rewatching, rereading, or re-listening to information,

  • you're exercising passive forms of learning.

  • Recently one of my followers sent me a video of another YouTuber who has a unique approach to active learning.

  • He recommends you write questions for yourself and skip writing down the answer,

  • as he explains you can look that up later if you forget.

  • I'll say two things about this.

  • First, I love the emphasis on active recall,

  • which is something that transformed my own studying as a medical student,

  • and it's why I push it so heavily on this channel.

  • Second, I see this as a suboptimal and highly compromised implementation of active learning.

  • Allow me to explain.

  • First, if you write questions for yourself without answers,

  • you'll get the big picture and gestalt dialed in, but you will miss most of the important details.

  • For a concept heavy course that's light on facts, this isn't a big deal.

  • However, most classes for pre-meds and medical students do have a high number of facts that must be memorized.

  • If you want to perform at the highest level on your MCAT or USMLE,

  • memorizing a large volume of facts is necessary.

  • Second, there's an art and science to writing out questions that test your recall.

  • Writing such broad questions is highly inefficient in the context of accelerating learning.

  • Proper implementation of active recall for maximal learning efficiency

  • requires smaller testable pieces of knowledge.

  • Imagine this - you have a question or card asking you to describe 5 elements of a disease process.

  • If you remember 4 but forget 1,

  • you have to do the question again and go over all 5,

  • rather than just reinforcing the one you forgot.

  • As you expand this to hundreds or thousands of concepts,

  • it's clear that the inefficiency compounds on itself and becomes highly costly.

  • This technique isn't terrible, but it's not nearly as effective as others,

  • which we'll get to shortly.

  • I would only recommend this study technique of writing broad questions

  • without detailed answers in two instances.

  • First, the course is highly concept heavy,

  • such as some upper division neuroscience courses.

  • Or second, you have phenomenal natural memory and memorization comes easily to you,

  • which is the only other instance I can see this being effective.

  • Like most of you, I don't have amazing memory.

  • It's important to know your strengths and weaknesses so you can intelligently approach studying

  • to take advantage of your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.

  • When it comes to performing well in class or on tests,

  • you can think of three foundational domains:

  • critical thinking, test-taking skills, and memorization.

  • If I'm being honest, I think my critical thinking and test-taking are very well developed,

  • but my natural memorization abilities are nothing special.

  • For that reason, I relied on several advanced memorization techniques to compensate that allowed me

  • to still rank number one in college and medical school in several classes.

  • Effective learning is comprised of two main elements -

  • comprehension and memorization.

  • It's best to first comprehend and deeply understand the information before trying to encode it to long term memory.

  • Memorizing first, without understanding,

  • results in a weaker long term grasp of the information.

  • That being said, don't believe the false claims that by simply understanding information deeply,

  • you'll never have to memorize a fact again.

  • No matter how deeply you understand wound healing in the context of plastic surgery,

  • you still have to memorize that peak tensile strength across a wound

  • occurs at days 42-60 with a magnitude of 80% of the original strength.

  • And yes, you will be pimped on that in the operating room, multiple times.

  • Again, the first step is to comprehend and deeply understand the information

  • before attempting to commit the information to memory.

  • How should you go about this most effectively?

  • The first layer is how you interface with the information for the first time.

  • If you enjoy learning from your professor and you feel they do an effective job teaching,

  • then prioritize attending lecture and being as engaged as possible.

  • If you don't click with your professor or feel that you learn better from a textbook,

  • online videos, or other resources, consider skipping lecture and prioritize those higher yield resources instead.

  • The second layer addresses confusion that remains after first exposure to the information.

  • At this point, you have a few options.

  • First, consider office hours with your professor or TA.

  • Bring an organized list of questions you want to ask them.

  • Second, study with a small group of friends - I recommend only one or two other people,

  • no more than that.

  • This is a perfect opportunity to practice the Feynman technique,

  • which I've shown you how to implement most effectively in a previous video.

  • Lastly, consider visiting other resources, such as test prep review books,

  • online videos, Reddit, online forums,

  • or a dedicated and high-quality tutor like the stellar ones available at MedSchoolInsiders.com.

  • The third layer involves applying the information.

  • This kills two birds with one stone,

  • as it not only helps you more deeply understand the information,

  • but it's also one of the most effective ways to memorize.

  • The main tool you should be using here is practice problems.

  • If you're studying for the MCAT or USMLE Step 1,

  • there are several question banks and practice tests you can choose from.

  • If you're studying for an upcoming quiz or test in class, you have a few options.

  • You can look to your textbook for practice questions.

  • Alternatively, and even better, take a look at previous year's exams

  • which will likely be more similar to the test you'll be taking.

  • Now that you understand the information,

  • it's time to rapidly consolidate that information straight to your hippocampus for long term memory.

  • Again, practice problems are key here,

  • as they not only help you understand the information more deeply,

  • but require you to apply the information and utilize active recall.

  • Doing so is tremendously powerful in memory consolidation.

  • The second tool would be spaced repetition software such as Anki.

  • Anki is a free flashcard app you can use on your phone, computer, or tablet.

  • While tremendously powerful, many students have bad experiences with Anki for a few reasons.

  • Here's how to avoid that.

  • First, do your flashcards daily.

  • When you fail to do your assigned cards, they pile up quickly,

  • also known as a high review burden, and then you're discouraged from opening the app ever again.

  • Second, use good flashcards.

  • I've seen many students, and even study experts on YouTube,

  • making the common mistake of asking very broad questions on the front

  • with a long paragraph explanation on the back.

  • This is a terribly ineffective way of using flashcards.

  • You can use pre-made decks, but making your own is the best bet.

  • I've gone over the 13 steps to making good flashcards previously.

  • Anki is far from perfect, but it's the best tool we currently have.

  • Understanding it's limitations and how students' lives would be transformed with more efficient studying,

  • my team and I have been hard at work to improve the implementation of spaced repetition with active recall.

  • Our new company is called Memm.

  • And big shout out to the handful of Med School Insiders newsletter subscribers

  • who volunteered to be early access users and help us refine and improve the product

  • before we release it to the public.

  • Lastly, all these study techniques can only work effectively

  • when they're placed within a larger context that facilitates learning.

  • Regarding study scheduling, understand how your energy and focus waxes and wanes throughout the day.

  • Schedule your study time appropriately for the periods when you can be most focused.

  • Also understand you cannot study for hours on end without proper breaks.

  • Strategically scheduling chores, exercise, or other necessary daily tasks should be used to your advantage.

  • For example, get your workout in as a break from studying,

  • so you can come back and hit the books with a fresh mind.

  • Or do your chores in the mid-afternoon when you experience a dip in energy.

  • You may not realize it, but the location in which you study influences your energy levels,

  • ability to focus, emotions, and much more.

  • Be deliberate with all elements in your environment.

  • Do you prefer silence or the bustle of a coffee shop?

  • Do you get distracted at home or does an optimized dual monitor work station make studying more enjoyable?

  • At the end of the day,

  • tailoring a plan and environment to your individual needs will yield you the best results.

  • Thank you for taking this important step in your life.

  • Getting a handle on your study techniques is one of the most foundational skills in

  • living a fulfilling and balanced life as a student.

  • Understanding how powerfully these skills can transform student lives

  • is why I started Med School Insiders in the first place.

  • I also understand that while making these YouTube videos helps many students,

  • there are many that still need additional help.

  • And it's for this reason that my team and I have worked tirelessly in creating

  • the best 1-on-1 tutoring experience for students pursuing careers in healthcare.

  • Not only do we recruit the best tutors in the industry,

  • but we've obsessed over creating the most effective and rigorous system that optimizes for one thing

  • delivering results.

  • If you want to crush your MCAT, USMLE, or need help doing better in any class,

  • from organic chemistry or physics to cardiology or surgery and everything between,

  • our team has got your back.

  • Visit MedSchoolInsiders.com

  • and use the coupon code BESTTUTORING for $100 off any of our tutoring packages of 10 hours or more.

  • Coupon is valid for the first 25 customers.

  • Good luck and happy studying!

  • If you found this video helpful, please leave us a thumbs up to keep the YouTube gods happy.

  • Make sure you're subscribed with that notification bell enabled.

  • Much love to you all,

  • and I will see you guys in that next one.

There's a great deal of misinformation and resulting confusion

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Study Techniques - The Good, Bad, & Useless

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    Summer posted on 2020/07/30
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