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First Year of Med School: 5 Proven Performance Hacks 

Written by CB Community

Studies showing how the first year of med school can be taxing on medical students are bringing to light that it’s not simply about making it through medical school.

Doing it while maintaining your well-being and avoiding burnout is just as important.

The most effective way of making sure you thrive during your first year is to remove unnecessary obstacles while maximizing how you use the resources available to you.

If that sounds like just another task to add to your already challenging med school schedule, worry not. Here are five performance hacks you can use to get through medical school:

1. Recognize the Task Ahead

Compared to your pre-med days, med school is going to present you with a lot more information.

Of course, don’t obsess over how difficult it’s all going to be. The fact that you’re willing to accurately measure up the task means you can break it down into manageable chunks.

Otherwise, you are going into it without an overview of exactly what’s expected of you, leaving you vulnerable to surprises.

With a clear view of the effort and time needed to score excellent grades during your first year, you’re much more likely to channel your energy properly, ensuring you keep on top of your med school schedule, challenging as it may be.

2. Get Radically Organized

While you may have been able to get by without proper planning in previous years, your first year of med school will be much less forgiving. It will require you to at least have an idea of what you need to do and when you’re going to do it every step of the way.

One of the most important aspects to be organized about is your studying timetable. Luckily, you can take advantage of tools designed to make your studying more effective.

These will help you cut down on the time you spend learning concepts and many online resources offer spaced repetition and gamification cards. With these resources and supports, you’ll be able to grasp material with greater ease.

As you discover and use more of these tools, you’ll find organizing your days a much less daunting task. That’s one of the factors that will have a huge bearing on how you fare during your first year of med school.

Get it right with planning and effective use of the resources at your disposal and you’ll have an easier time while setting the stage for attaining good grades.

3. Figure Out How Best You Study

After getting to grips with the breadth of information that awaits you, start finding out your own individual ways for mastering it. Details differ from individual to individual here.

For example, you may be the type that needs to go over the lecture notes before heading off to class. Likewise, you may find yourself retaining more of your course material when you rewatch a recorded version of the lecture.

There are many more aspects to this. Others have to do with whether you study best in a group setting or when you’re alone with no one to disturb you.

Ultimately, it’s about tying in self-study with your med school studies. Observe the conditions under which you learn best and replicate them to consistently get the most out of the time you set aside to study.

Techniques such as spaced repetition, mentioned above, have stood up to the scrutiny of scientific investigation and proven themselves effective aids for med school students like yourself.

4. Spread Your Study Materials Far and Wide

To make sure you’re as prepared as you can possibly be, treat everything you come across as a potential question you may have to tackle in the exam.

Even things you may assume have been said in passing in the lecture may turn out to be in the exam.

Likewise, something may only be lightly touched upon in your lectures while explained in far greater detail in your notes. This, too, can feature in the exam.

Continuing on that theme, the most crucial information to have when exam time comes around may not be what’s simply in the notes and slides as you might expect.

The gist of it all is that you shouldn’t zero in on an aspect of your studies and bank on it completely. Going all out on a single aspect of your med school studies, in your first year and beyond, will likely cause you to miss out on critical information.

Take the approach of treating everything you need to learn from as it contains knowledge that may be tested in the exam.

A holistic combination of your various study materials gives you the best grasp of your many modules while helping you maximize your examination prep.

As with the second tip, an effective study tool will serve you well here. It will make it easier to manage all this spread out course material and maximize your retention. Simply paying attention and focusing will help too.

5. Hold Your Purpose Close and Tight

As you’ve anticipated, there may be some strenuous challenges lying ahead. The four tips you’ve read above go far in surfacing and broadening your potential to handle the obstacles you’ll face, but there’s really no way to make it an entirely smooth ride.

For those times when you’ve been up late every night of the week, it’s your purpose that will carry you through.

Whatever lit a passion or even just roused an interest in medicine for you, use that to get extra boosts in motivation whenever they need.

You might find it helpful to have a physical reminder, such as a picture, that helps you remember why you got into med school in the first place. Having made it through undergrad and the MCAT, there’s something certainly driving you to keep going. Stay in touch with that.

The first year of med school will be a step up from the previous years of your studies, both in terms of the scope of the work and how much you’ll need to apply yourself.

Take the advice above on board and you’ll get rid of unnecessary obstacles in your way – while paving the road to a successful medical career.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.