How Qbanks & Picmonic Helped Me Get My Dream Score on USEMLE Step 1

Creativity Over Cramming

We’ve been there. Late night at the library, you’ve stocked up on Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy, flashcards and highlighters are everywhere, and you’ve crammed like there’s no tomorrow, but have nothing to show for it at the end of the night. Sometimes it seems like no matter how much we cram for that exam, come test day, we let ourselves down.

What’s wrong with this picture?

No matter where you are in school, the looming threat of exam pressure is inescapable. We’re working our way through an educational system that places a great emphasis on exam and testing milestones, which forces students to focus on those exam and testing milestones. It seems like somewhere throughout the educational pathway, we traded in creativity for cramming. When the only thing that matters is the score at the end of the semester, we miss out on all the opportunities for learning along the journey.

Far too often, students are driven to cram for exams by a lack of time, high stress, low motivation, and little interest in the subject matter. Education used to be a rich process of discovery and innovation, one filled with challenges and opportunities for learning from failure. How did we get to a point where cramming displaced that inherent creativity?

RIP Creativity?

We’re not the first to ask this question, and we certainly won’t be the last. Millions have listened to the popular 2006 TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson exploring this very notion—that schools are killing creativity. We’d like to consider the idea that creativity isn’t dead; it’s just being stifled by our widespread tendency to cram information into our heads for short periods of time.

Let’s paint a scary picture for a minute. Imagine a medical student cramming for the most important exam of her life. The exam will determine her medical career path; it will open or close doors to certain fields. She studies for six straight weeks, attempting to cram every bit and detail. On exam day, she pores over the test for several hours straight, attempting to extract minute facts and apply what’s been memorized. A few short weeks later a score arrives, and all of the information leaves her long-term memory. She can hardly recall the information upon which she’s just been graded. But the good news is, she’s going to be a doctor!

Is that good news? This is the way our students are learning. This is the way our future doctors are preparing! We have to work together to create solutions that bring creativity back into our classrooms and leave cramming behind for good.

Picmonic Takes a Stand

This is our mission at Picmonic. We’re working hard to provide students with a solution for cramming. A solution for rote memorization. A solution for mind blocks. A solution for information overload. Our learning system for medical students injects a heavy dose of creativity into the areas of studying that need it most. We’re taking repetition out of the equation and attempting to give students a creative approach to storing and understanding essential information for the long term.

This is a pretty big undertaking, but we’re not trying to cram it into one all-nighter. Stick with us for updates on our creative progress.

Ron Robertson

Ron Robertson, Co-founder & CEO, Picmonic Inc.

Ron Robertson founded Picmonic as a 3rd-year medical student at the University of Arizona. He’s at the helm of Picmonic’s mission to lead and inspire a new era of learning through innovative and effective educational solutions. Ron holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of San Diego with a focus on memory science, is the product visionary behind Picmonic, and is involved in every aspect of the company.

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