Soon enough we’d be writing ‘January 2016’ and then crossing out 2016 to write 2017. It’s almost that time of the year again! Fall is fun and winters are warm and cozy, but for everyone who has exams coming up, I know you dread these months. And if, in one insane moment, you decided to study medicine like me, ‘dread’ is an understatement.
The other day someone had a status put up on their Facebook that read ‘This, too, shall pass. Painfully. Like a kidney stone.But it will pass.’ To tell you in one line, this month’s 30 Day Challenge is about making sure it is not like a kidney stone that your prep leaves pass! Read on for a few tips that I find very helpful when studying and make the most of your time.
Figure Out What You Need to Study
If you just randomly pick up a book and dive into it without having an idea of how much do you need to study altogether, it would be very difficult to come up with a realistic study plan. Go through your syllabus and make a list of the topics you need to cover and the books you need to read/buy. Write it down or print it out, but have the list with you so that you know exactly what are you dealing with.
Make a Schedule
Once you’ve figured out what you need to study,divide it into small parts and do one part everyday. Make study blocks and assign a few topics to each block. Be careful not to aim for unrealistic goals. If you know a certain chapter is going to take more than a day, don’t tell yourself you can do this if you try harder and squeeze it in one day because when you fail to keep up with the schedule you make, it would only discourage you. Use a memo on your phone or use a page to write it down and keep it in front of you. Here’s a printable to help you. Fill each block with a list of topics and cross them out as you go.
Get Your Stuff Together
Once you have a list in your hand, collect your things and put them in one place; books, pages, sticky notes, pens, a bottle of water, everything! Keep them on your desk or wherever you study, so that you don’t have to keep getting up to grab something every now and then.
Decide What Works Best For You
Do you find it easier to study in groups or alone? Coordinate with a friend if you find it daunting to study alone or choose a quiet and peaceful spot in the library if you prefer to stay alone. Keep your environment tidy because no one wants to approach a desk buried in wrappers and notes and dirty coffee mugs.
Get Help When Stuck
Instead of going through a page over and over again and frustrating yourself, ask a friend or a teacher to explain it or simply google it. Don’t waste your time and energy when there is an easier alternative.
Light And Posture
Ideally, your study table should be in front of a window to make use of all that natural light. If you can’t do that, get proper over head lighting and a nice study lamp. Also, make sure your chair and table are nice and comfortable and you don’t have to bend too low and get a backache.
Eat & Sleep Well
Don’t skip meals. Don’t tell yourself you’d eat when the library closes. Go out and eat when it’s time to eat. Your brain consumes 20% of your body’s energy and if you’re studying you can’t compromise it. Also, get plenty of sleep at night. Sleeping consolidates your memories and helps you remember what you read. This one time I studied all night and went for a test, and I couldn’t recall what ‘digitalis’ was. And you guys, in medicine, forgetting digitalis is like forgetting your own name! So get that 8 hours of sleep at all costs and maybe a small nap in the afternoon.
Over exerting will only harm your health and add unnecessary stress. Take breaks, listen to music, if you have the habit of walking every evening or working out every morning keep doing that. Stop things like binge watching Friends, but continue your productive everyday activities.
Building a schedule with enough breaks should help you with minimizing stress but if you still find yourself getting stressed out, do something that calms you down like trying a stress release game or calling your family and chatting if you live in a dorm.
Minimize Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the ten other apps on your smart phone waste a lot of your precious time without you realizing it. So minimize the time you spend on them and if you’re strong enough, put a halt to it altogether.
I hope you find these steps useful. Study hard but most importantly, have fun. It is NOT the end of the world!