Monday, October 13, 2014

Study Tips: When To Study

how to study medical school university


You know how exercising first thing in the morning leaves you feeling so wonderfully accomplished for the rest of the day? For me, a 5 am studying session does the same thing. I love getting up early to study. It's nice and quiet, no one (in your timezone, at least) is posting on Facebook or Twitter, and it wakes you up so that you're well beyond morning grogginess by the time you get to school. I usually spend my morning preparing for the day ahead. If I have a test or exam, I get up at 4:30 am to review the material once more so that it is fresh in my mind.

After School

Immediately after school is my second favourite time to study. I often bring dinner and stay at school for a few hours to get my work done, so that when I do get home I can relax and not worry about studying. When I'm at school I feel more motivated to study, whereas when I go home after school with the intention to study, it's much harder to sit down and get started. When I'm very tight on time (e.g. exam time) I find that I waste much less time when I'm at school -- for example, my packed dinner takes five minutes to eat, whereas if I were home cooking and eating dinner might take me away from studying for a whole hour.


I've always had difficulty motivating myself to study on Friday afternoons. The best way to overcome this is for me to stay at school and put in a couple hours of work before I start my weekend.

On Saturday I often wake up early and study at home. I use Saturdays to catch up on the previous week. By Sunday I'm usually sick of studying in my room and drive into the university to study in the library or an empty classroom. I make sure I arrive when the library opens and don't leave until closing time. I spend Sundays making notes for the upcoming week.

Bonus Time

One thing I've learned during university and medical school is that I need to take responsibility for how I spend my time. I'll admit, I didn't hesitate to skip lectures if I felt that I could use the time more productively to study on my own. Skipping lectures is a slippery slope, so I have some ground rules for when I think it's acceptable to skip:
  • only skip if the class is not mandatory (no attendance taken)
  • only skip if it is a large group session where you will not be missed (as a half empty classroom is disrespectful to the lecturer)
  • only skip if you really need the time to study and you will spend it studying, rather than wasting time
  • only skip if you already have access to the lecture material and will not miss anything by not attending in person (e.g. in medical school most lectures were recorded and posted online)
  • if the lecture scheduling is such that there is only one lecture that day and you spend an hour getting ready and commuting just to attend, it is likely not worthwhile to attend
I have also skipped lectures to go to work, but I think that's harder to justify than skipping to study.

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