Peer Mentors Blog

Peer Mentors for First-Year Students

How to study actively!

by Apryl Jacobs | Feb 19, 2014

When it comes to pharmacy school, it is imperative that you learn to study actively. In order to retain the information in your long term memory, you need to do more than just read your notes. I found a really helpful article on the fundamentals of active studying and I would like to share an excerpt of it with you.

“Four active processes will be used in the steps of any active study pattern and any study time that does not involve one or more of these steps is almost certainly passive and inefficient!

1. Identifying the important information – answering the eternal question of “what’s important here?”

2. Organizing the information – start with the “big picture” to create a framework that facilitates memorization and access appropriate for differential diagnosis.

3. Memorizing the information – this requires frequent review to keep it available for use!

4. Applying the information to more complex situations – practice questions, quiz questions, clinical applications, etc.

Everyone will develop their own “high volume” study methods eventually, but the majority of medical students benefit from a starting strategy – and one generally successful starting point uses five basic steps:

1. Finding the "big picture" by skimming the information before lecture – identifying and memorizing the four or five major topics will keep you on track during lecture.

2. Creating a complete rough draft of the material by annotating the lecturer's slides  – notes emphasizing the lecturer's context are supplemented as needed from other reading materials. Don't rewrite this!

3. Creating summary charts, lists or diagrams that organize the needed material to emphasize patterns that facilitate memorization.

4. Actively memorizing the charts, etc., as they are created, then incorporating quick and frequent review during later study to nail the information down – you'll still need the fundamentals after finals are over.

Practicing application using practice or quiz questions during the study process – and not to test yourself just before the exam.”

I found this article to be very insightful, so you should take a look at it too!

Here’s the link:

I suggest printing out the four fundamentals of active studying and taping them above your desk. That way you can review them before you start studying, so you will really master this approach! They will help you succeed in all of your years here at ACPHS!

I hope you all are having a wonderful spring semester!

Good luck :)

Apryl Jacobs

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