Anatomy is one of the most difficult subjects you learn in vet school. Memorizing all the anatomical structures and their functions is tough enough as it is, but you have a number of other classes to study for as well! Talk about time management. To help you be successful in your classes, we’ve come up with 13 tips for studying anatomy more effectively:
1. Schedule it in
This is key for making your life easier right before exams. We all know how stressful it is trying to cram in all the material you’ve learned the entire semester just one week before exams. It’s very tiring, stressful, and frankly ineffective. Most of the time, cramming all that material results in storing the information in your short term memory, so you may do well on the exam, but you end up forgetting most of it shortly afterwards.
The key here is making the time for studying, whether that be actually scheduling it into your weekly routine, or simply making sure to find time for it here and there. The way to avoid the issue with cramming is to make studying a habit and continuously review the material – this means no procrastinating!
2. Start Early
This goes along with scheduling in study time. Naturally, if you start early and schedule in time for studying, then you’re setting yourself up for success. We’ve all been there one week before exams and panicking because there is so much to review and so little time – that’s when you wish you started earlier. This means you need to find the motivation to set time to study and review your notes, without procrastinating until the last minute.
3. Repetition Repetition Repetition
Notice what we did there? This one is fairly obvious, the more you go over something, the more likely you will remember it. The only way to memorize all the different anatomical structures and their functions is to repeat, repeat, and you guessed it, repeat. Many students find re-writing notes to be helpful.
4. Switch it up
While it is great to find your routine and what works for you, it’s good to switch things up and use different study techniques to reinforce the material and to avoid getting stuck in a rut. If you read the textbook, write notes, use flashcards and study visual diagrams, you will be more likely to remember and understand the material than if you only used flashcards. We suggest trying to draw out the anatomical structures! As previously mentioned in tip #3, the repetition in different forms of study techniques makes studying more effective.
5. Get Creative
Use your artistic skills to help you study. To fully understand diagrams, try redrawing them and annotate them with facts and features. When you draw bones, muscles or tissue use different colours for each to make them easier to visualize. Then hang the diagrams and charts around the room on the walls to visualize the bigger picture.
6. Take Clear Notes
Taking notes is crucial in helping you remember the material, whether that be taking notes in class or while reading the text, combining seeing the material and writing it down increases your ability to retain the information. Make sure to write the notes in your own words in order to understand the content when reviewing; if the language used is too obscure to understand when reviewing, it diminishes the effectiveness of the notes.
7. Understand Your Learning Style
Figure out what learning style you have. Do visuals work for you? Are you a verbal learner? Most people are a combination of learning styles, so figuring out what works for you will help you cater your study habits accordingly and make them more effective. Stick to what works best to maximize your study efforts. If flash cards don’t work then don’t use them – if rewriting notes helps you remember, then do that!
8. Use Memorization Tactics
Trying to memorize all the anatomical structures can be a daunting task. Utilize different memorization strategies such as flashcards, rewriting your notes, using mnemonics or even singing it out if that helps you!
9. Work in Groups
For some people working in groups can be of benefit. Sometimes having someone else to bounce ideas off of or someone to quiz you can help you retain information and identify areas of weakness. Having a study group can also motivated you to study and keep you accountable. Peer teaching has been found in studies to be very effective in helping retain material.
10. Stay Motivated
This is very important, if you don’t motivate yourself then you will procrastinate. Find ways to motivate yourself to study. As mentioned in tip #9, try working with people so you can motivate each other!
11. Quiz Yourself
Test your knowledge and simulate what the exam questions will be like to make sure you are prepared for the real deal. You can create the quiz questions with your friends and quiz each other or use pre existing quiz material online or provided by your teacher.
12. Focus on Your Weak Points
Rather than constantly reviewing all the material, focus on the areas in which you are weakest. If you know a certain section very well, manage your time and spend less time reviewing that area to maximize your study efforts.
13. Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You
There are actually a lot of resources available to you that will make your studying endeavors easier. As mentioned in tip #4, make sure to switch up not only the study methods, but also the resources you’re using to maximize you studying effectiveness and really reinforce the concepts. Some resources you can take advantage of include your textbook, class handouts and lab material your professor provides, also there are many online resources that are accessible by students.
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