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Memory Tricks For Medical Students

  1. Write it down. It can be during a lecture or while reading a text. Don’t try to copy the entire paragraph from a book. Write short notes- simple, easy to understand, and straightforward. You can even use flashcards or website like Quizlet. Outlines, pens with different colors, drawings, or even highlighters can also help. This can help you create “cheat sheets” that you can easily recreate from memory during exams. 
  2. Experience it. Why do you need to go into a lab and dissect a cadaver for anatomy class? Why must you go through clinical rotations before graduation? It is because you best remember what you learn through an experience. When you are confuse about definitions like adduction and abduction, just do those actions while recalling the terms until you are confident. 
  3. Watch it. There are many videos that were created to help medical student memorize textbook information. Yes, they can be corny and horrible but they can also work wonder. Have you tried singing those medical songs?  There are places such as Nucleus Medical Media and ORLive too. If your professors do not teach in a way that suits your style, you can listen into lectures of the same subjects from different school too on YouTube Education or the school’s website. iTunes may even have their podcasts. 
  4. Roman room system. It is similar to drawing a mind map where you draw the main subject in the center and branches of associated information. Instead, you are using a room or a house. Then you put various objects and associate those with information you want to remember. Afterwards, you can imagine yourself trying to find those objects to retrieve the information. Takes practice but it can be quite helpful.
  5. Mnemonics. Initials can either help you or hurt you. Sometimes, people will end up remembering the initials but not their actual meaning. Some Lovers Try Position They Cannot Handle, for example. Try to come up with your own or the ones that work best for you. You may also substitute stories with mnemonics instead. 
  6. Repetition. Sometimes, you may just have to shove that information forcefully through repetition. There can be no other way around it. You need a routine. You want it to be in your long time memory, not a short one. You can even try teaching it to others.
  7. Organization. You need to be able to organize your notes (handwriting!), thoughts, study breaks, study spaces, and even relationships. You only have to be organize to yourself. Make you sure you can explain to others so they too can understand you, especially in relationships. If you have a horrible illegible handwriting, practice calligraphy before going into clinical portions…for the patients’ safety.
  8. Application of knowledge. Before taking board exams, professors and other medical students recommend doing LOTS of practice questions (USMLEWorld or Kaplan) so you can practice, know what to expect and work on your weaknesses. They will also make you do physical examinations on each other for the same reason. It is part of the experiential learning style.
  9. Play brain games. I highly recommend Lumosity. But you can also play other games that will help you expand your ability to memorize and remember other things unrelated to your study. They are fun and entertaining. They may even help you relax and release your stress.
  10. Rest well. Sleep helps improve your memory. Period. Try not to cram the night before, if you can.

These tricks may work for some and not for others. I didn’t learn some of the tricks until after I finished basic sciences. The important thing is to search for techniques that work for you and keep it. What are some of the memory tricks you use for yourself?

Filed under medical school medical student memory study habits

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