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Memory Ninja 101: Tips for Medical School

Medical school is the Ironman of memory challenges, making undergrad seem like a 5k charity run. Here are some pointers on how to max out your memory potential and hack away at the information overload.

1. Pay attention

Go over a concept and really think about it. What does it mean? What could it apply to? How might this be asked in a question? How could I explain this to a 5-year-old? Engage with the material, and you’ll be less likely to zone out.

Pictures_Words_2502. Use Imagery

Who says medical school doesn’t allow for creativity? Make like a Picmonic, and try to draw out what you’re learning. The more vivid, wacky, and slightly inappropriate, the better.

3. Sleep well

Memory consolidates over a good night of sleep, and a quick 20 minute nap can do wonders when time is tight. It may not give you wings, but you’ll be recharged for hours.

4. Get Organized

An effective method applied by many students is to break down huge volumes of information into more easily consumable charts or diagrams. Be able to reproduce those charts for your exam.

Learning Tools CENTERED5. Use Spaced Repetition

Start early, and test yourself often. Quiz yourself throughout your studies, and try to test yourself in ways that will simulate actual exam situations. Check out Quizlet, Anki, or Mnemosyne; split up flashcard-making with your classmates and quiz away!

6. Play professor

Test your understanding by attempting to teach the material to a classmate, or better yet, someone outside the medical field. This forces you to make sense of the concept and will reveal any gaps in your knowledge.

7. Know your peak

Observe when your mind is most sharp. For some, it may be the wee morning hours, others, deep into the night. Use those hours for your most cognitively demanding and least appealing tasks.

meditation8. Exercise

A good workout does wonders for stress relief, higher energy levels, and mental sharpness. Try some yoga, abs, or quick cardio.

9. Use Mnemonics

Acronyms and stories are a great way to organize your information in a way that you’ll be able to easily remember and draw associations from. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a product out there with hundreds of brilliant, visually stunning mnemonics already made? *cough*

10. Talk about it

Take a break from solitary study and discuss the material with other students. Ask and answer a lot of questions.

11. Make connections

Associate facts to things you already know. Create analogies that you can draw upon for recall.

12. Map it all out

With all the little details, the bigger picture can get lost. Write out the key concepts, and draw out arrows between them to see how they all connect.

What tips do you have for becoming a memory ninja? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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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