Study Strategies: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Tortoise
The tortoise is in it for the long haul. He studies for a fixed amount of time, every day. He has a routine. He never has to worry about cramming or catching up, because he’s always on top of things. The med school years for him are simple years; he studies and refrains from indulgence. Indulgence is too time consuming, and throws him off his rhythm. “If I party on Friday night,” he says, “then how will I get up at 6:30 to study on Saturday?”

The Hare
The hare is usually a social butterfly. So much energy, and so productive . . . in spurts. But the hare also enjoys taking time for herself. She takes evenings or maybe even whole days off studying. If she didn’t do this, she would fall victim to the dreaded burnout. At least that’s what she tells herself. Although she is often behind, her ability to catch up is second to none. Many of us have probably heard the adage that it’s impossible to cram in medical school. Well, not for the hare. Cramming for the hare just starts a few days earlier than it did in college. It really is impossible to cram for a neuro test the day before the test, but it is possible to pull 3 consecutive 20-hour cram days and still do well. As for long-term retention, who knows? Only boards will tell.

The Moocher
The moocher is lazy. He keeps to himself most weeks. He does not make study guides or contribute to anyone else’s learning. If at all possible, he will not show up to lecture. When a test is not looming, he can be found in his underwear at home, drinking beer and cruising the interwebs. Then, when a test looms near, he breaks free from his filthy cocoon of lethargy and can be seen on campus and social media snatching up all the condensed study guides everyone else in the class has made in the previous weeks. The moocher usually does okay on the tests, but one wonders how he will perform during rotations and residency when he does not have such helpful resources on hand.

The Memorizer
The memorizer is the queen of facts. Her ability to absorb large tables of seemingly random bits of information is unparalleled. While some may struggle to recall even the names of different medications, the memorizer will calmly recite all of the generic drug names, all of the brand names, how to spell them, how each of them is metabolized, their side effects, and which are contraindicated under what circumstances. She can do this after only going over the material once. Her classmates are in awe of her. Truly she is blessed.

The Reader
The reader… reads! Truly he is a rarity in our times. While he abhors the brute memorization of random facts, he loves to read textbooks. Bringing together a large body of knowledge into a logical system is what the reader enjoys most. He is a systematic learner who loves finding out how the little details fit into the bigger picture. The reader also must have strong shoulders, for textbooks are not known for being lightweight.

The High Yielder
The high yielder is focused first and foremost on the next exam. Perhaps it is a flaw, or maybe just an efficient allocation of her resources, but the only thing she cares about is information likely to be on the next test. She might be heard on campus saying something resembling the following: “Did the professor say that’s going to be on the test? No? Then I’m punting it. I’ll learn it later for boards if I have to.”

The Recluse
The recluse is only seen on mandatory days. Nobody really knows what he does. The only thing known for certain is that he does not go to class or social events. He doesn’t have a Facebook, and certainly shuns the company of others when he is forced to be on campus. The recluse may either be an actual loner, who would much rather be alone than in a group, or he may just be an older, married father of 3 who spends his time with family and studying at home. Either way, whenever he shows up, everybody turns and whispers to each other “Who IS that? Is he in our class?”

The Deity
The deity is revered by all. She is at the top of the class. Her study methods are mysterious. She somehow gets top scores on tests, actively participates in multiple clubs, is on student government, volunteers regularly at free clinics, and conducts research. She has a strong presence at social events and on social media. All of the students and professors adore her. Many have tried to discover her secret, but it remains a mystery. The current hypothesis is that she only sleeps 3 hours per night.

Featured image:
Studying in Starbucks by Nicola Sapiens De Mitri

Shaun Webb

Shaun Webb is a class of 2018 medical student at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. He graduated from Weber State University with a B.S. degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences, and was born and raised in Kaysville, Utah. He loves playing any type of sport and getting outdoors to go camping and hiking.

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