The most common pieces of advice I’ve been given deal with stress, time management and maximising concentration, but there’s not much about optimising the way we study. As a visual learner with two years of trial and error, below are some study methods I used for MPharm exams, as well as what I plan to achieve this year.
In year 1, I was organised but studying became a bit of a chore.
Notes: Handwriting all of my notes and organising into folders.
Studying: Mostly using books, Khan Academy and youtube videos. For revision, I made posters and did past paper questions.
Tools: I organised my life, work and studies using list pads and a bullet journal.
In year 2, I explored new study methods.
Notes: I typed up my lecture notes initially, then created mind maps containing relevant content by hand. I also listened to some lectures that I recorded (ones that overwhelmed me), relevant podcasts and revision notes. For chemistry mechanisms and anatomical diagrams, I found that drawing on a whiteboard reinforced my learning.
Studying: During revision period, getting together with friends was a good strategy to learn more in a short amount of time, not only because a group can focus on multiple topics, but for the support and motivation as well. We also wrote, exchanged, answered and marked each other’s’ exam-style questions; this challenged me to refine my understanding of each topic and more importantly, step into the examiner’s shoes.
Tools: Here are some free apps I personally recommend:
1) Microsoft OneNote – for organising notes
2) Forest https://www.forestapp.cc/en/ – for time management
3) Paper by FiftyThree https://www.fiftythree.com/ – for visual notes
4) Memrise https://www.memrise.com/ – for creating flash cards
5) Coffitivity https://www.coffitivity.com/#home – for concentration
In year 3, I am motivated to do better by using methods that suit me. One revision tip we see everywhere is to set specific and realistic goals, so this year I have planned to:
● Create notes with relevant links for future reference – find out about anything that causes confusion there and then, either by looking it up or asking somebody.
● Explain complex content in my own words so they make sense in the future.
● Recite important points.
● Make revision posters and do past paper questions.
● When term ends, start a journal with timetables (and follow them!).