Dr. Daniel’s Top 10: Learning Tips

1. STUDY WITH FRIENDS
This offers accountability. Choose the right friends but not the type that will distract your studies. I’m not saying you should study in the same room together but just go together for support. Find that kid that sits at the front of the class asking all those questions and meet with them weekly. Make sure you know what they know and there is a good chance you will excel in that class.

2. SIT IN THE FRONT
If you don’t think this is important check out these papers (Giles, 1982) (Rennels & Chaudhari, 1988) showing improved grades the closer you are to the front. This minimizes distraction, offers better vision and hearing, and forces you to stay awake or suffer embarrassment. You’ll make some friends up there with bright futures and maybe someone who can fix your broken computer.

3. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Repetition, repetition, repetition. Some say repeating 7-20 times commits something to memory. If you are a visual learner like I am, draw pictures or charts over and over. Sing a song with the words.

4. STUDY ENVIRONMENT
Quiet or loud as you please. Library, home, coffee shop, or outdoors. Often times, little cues in our environment subconsciously assist our learning.

5. MNEMONICS AND DRAWINGS
Get as crazy as you can with these. The crazier the more likely you will remember but don’t go too far and over mnemonicize yourself so you have to start having to make mnemonics to remember mnemonics.

6. STAY AFTER CLASS
You would be amazed at how much goodies the professor gives away at the end of class to those who stick around. Believe it or not, professors like to have a nice curve in grades. They don’t want to be too easy or too hard so they will reward a group of motivated students. Those who stick out will be noticed by the professor and they are likely to be those who ask questions at the end of class. Even more impressive is if you go to the front after class just to listen to other’s questions.

7. TURN IT OFF
I’m talking cell phones and computers. These are now the biggest distractions in class. I’d recommend you go ole school and print out the notes and grab a pen and write.

8. GET A MENTOR
Become friends with an upperclassman who successfully passed these classes. Ask them for advice or old notes.

9. SUMMARIZE FIRST
Look at the big picture before delving in. This goes for everything on your track to becoming a doctor or a specialist or life in general. When reading, read the chapter summary first. Before reading the book, read the back cover or the preface. Before taking a course read the description. Before going the premed route, speak to or shadow doctor. I find this similar to watching a movie trailer prior to jumping into the movie. There is a better chance you won’t be unpleasantly surprised if you first get a general idea beforehand.

10. QUESTIONS!
Mimicking any situation prepares you like nothing else. If you are asked in advance to take a half-court shot at half-time of a basketball game for $1,000, would you go there without any practice or would you be launching that ball all day and night in preparation? Again practice makes perfect.

And don’t forget to rest.