Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week of Wits

It's time to get out my trusty no. 2 pencil and put on my thinking cap. Our first week of block exams is already here.

Test Masters

Test masters know that you must fill in the Scantron test sheet very carefully to avoid mechanical errors. Don't let your mark leave the box or bubble, erase any changes completely, and above all else get your identification number right.

Mastery of the Scantron is crucial if you expect to succeed. More importantly though is the time and effort dedicated to acquiring the knowledge behind the answers. I thought the transition from high school to college was significant. I guess I simply had nothing to measure it by because I was mistaken. Moving up the ladder from college to medical school has been ten times more intense than my last educational leap of faith. We cover more material, in less time, and we are expected to know it well enough to heal the patients we see. You had better believe I am going to be studying more.

Study Time

Just like MCAT preparation, these exams have consumed the greater part of my daily routine. It goes something like this:

  • 8:00 Get to campus
  • Study and review materials
  • 12:00 Partly study, partly eat lunch, and partly get away from it all (thanks Youtube)
  • 1:00 Back to the grind
  • 5:00 Break for dinner
  • 5:30 Plant my nose back into the books
  • 8:30 Prop my head up to avoid falling asleep
  • 11:00 Leave campus
No sooner than I walk in my front door I am already questioning the material I covered 12 hours earlier. At that point it is just better to call it a night, so I can do it again the next day. Fortunately, the anatomy exam is first this week with a different exam each day, some easier than others. The goal is to stay fed, awake and sharp. After this week, we start all over with a new subject or two and more detail in the old ones.

Study Aids

One of the problems I have noticed is that there is so much information it is hard to limit yourself to the study aids. Certainly, if your course is using a text or Power Point presentation those would be the optimal resources. Other helpful ideas include:
  • Computer flash cards - Flashcard Machine or Flashcard Exchange
  • Study group - Two heads are definitely better than one
  • Review sessions - Too many will eat up study time, whereas some will highlight important information
  • Application settings - An example of this would be the cadaver lab for anatomy
  • Websites - Wikipedia is your friend though it may not be perfect, don't get too carried away with the rest
All this studying has its consequences too. My birthday yesterday had to have been one of the most boring as I sat in a room studying for hours. I now have 'Dunlap's disease' (my belly dun-lapped over my belt) as we sit and have limited time to exercise. All the new terms are running around in my head and somehow I have to get them into my fingertips so they can make it onto the Scantron. I just hope I remember my I.D. number when the time comes.


  1. Good Luck on all your tests this week! I'll be praying for you. Remember your gut and first instincts are usually correct. Love ya. Mom

  2. Best of luck, I'll keep you in my thoughts and the rest. As for Dunlaps, when you get to learning about medical research, let me know what you find out about a cure with an easier dosing regimen... This 5 times a week thing is gonna kill me. (See, that's funny, because it's what is going to keep me alive!) Actually, it's not funny now that I explained it...

  3. Hi,I'm a big fan of online learning because it fun and at the same time you also get to learn.I came across a link which i would want to share and I'm sure it will be helpful. Check it flashcards

  4. Thanks for the link Jeff, it looks like it has good potential as an online flashcard resource.

  5. Thanks for sharing such a informative post with preparing for MCAT is one of the toughest work... for this we have to practice more & more and follow the strict daily routine... You put really a great way that how we could get prepared ourselves for it...


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