“Prior to med school, I never struggled academically & never really had to study much. I went to lecture then studied pretty intensely for a day or two before the exam. That led to great results. That doesn’t work in med school. Now I am struggling to study. I have tried a lot of things, but I still do not have a process in place.”
Bright students often find great success in undergraduate/graduate programs by cramming (experiencing material within 48 hours of an exam). This can lead to great success. However, these skills often fail us at the medical school level. Material can be better managed a variety of ways. The STATMed Class helps students develop a specific process that suits their needs.
“In undergrad I used to make lots of notecards and recopy my notes. That allowed me to get through the material multiple times before the test. I tried that in pharmacy school and I just don’t have enough time. Now I feel like my main tools are useless.”
Multiple experiences with the material are vital for successful encoding and retrieval of information. Struggling students are often mired in limited ineffective means of experiencing the material, which negatively impacts performance and confidence. STATMed Learning teaches students a variety of methods for having different experiences that can be spaced through time with varying time costs.
“I like the big picture, but since we get tested on details, I obsess over details. But it seems like I can’t access them without learning the big picture, so this paradox pretty much paralyzes me.”
While successful students might be able to assimilate details into a big picture or perhaps craft a big picture concurrent with gathering details, struggling students often fall into the trap of gathering details first and hoping for the big picture to come into focus later. Students must learn to quickly and concretely build the big picture first before addressing details.
“I made it through my first year of classes, but it was painful. I am worried that my study skills will not yield enough heading into second year. Also, I don’t want to suffer as much as I did last year. I want to be more confident in my abilities and my process.”
While managing the demands of med school will always be a challenge, students can improve performance by learning a variety of skill sets. It is impossible to predict which skills will be most valuable to any given student, hence STATMed's approach of infusing students with all of the skill sets then helping them determine which ones work best for their particular needs.
“I used to overcompensate in undergrad by spending more time studying than my friends to get the same grades. Now, there is no extra time.”
Students are taught how to maximize the time they spend studying, relying on efficiency and effectiveness of study skills and the ability to “change gears” while studying to get the best return on the investment of their time.
“It’s not that any single concept is that hard, it is just that there is so much of it coming at you so fast. I need to get faster.”
Speed is an elusive concept in regards to studying. Most struggling students are passive in their study approach, relying on reading or recopying. By diversifying an individual’s study sequence, students can learn how to get much more accomplished in less time. Most students struggle because they lack the framework for managing the speed and volume of the material.
“I can study all day. It is not a matter of work ethic. My problem is that I do not get enough out of studying. Even when I choose not to study, I feel guilty for not studying more, so I can’t even enjoy taking a night off.”
Study time should be very strategic. This requires a set of utility skills that help the student plan, regulate, and modify their time spent studying. Feedback from study efficiency and study tools will aid this process.
“I do not know how to memorize the vast amount of material required by my program.”
Bulk memorization is not a solution at this level. A variety of skills, starting with building the big picture first and working inward toward details will lighten this burden. But explicit memorization methods can be mastered to address specific issues with memorization. Using visually based mapping that connects to non-medical knowledge is a valuable tool for some; for others, using Roman Rooms or Memory Palaces is a vital new skill that can buy points on every exam.
“I am a horrible test-taker. If I could just fix my test-taking, I would be great. I teach my peers how to master a given concept in study groups, then they pass and I fail. I get stellar marks on rotations, but I can’t pass the exam.”
Many students cite test-taking as their main issue. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it is simply that the foundations (study and time management) are not in place and need to be addressed first. This student is likely a poor test-taker, which can be addressed by learning how to train for the exam using The STAT Program’s micromanagement training techniques with feedback tools in the STATMed Boards Workshop that will help separate content mistakes from test-taking errors, along with a variety of other training tools.
Doctors who are failing specialty boards invariably say things like: “As a physician, I am great clinically; I did well enough in med school to get this far, but now I am failing my specialty boards,” or “I teach residents but I can’t pass?” or “I feel like the test-takers are tricking me,” or “I don’t know what to re-study at this point. I honestly don’t know where to begin.”
Struggling can happen at any point to any person, regardless of previous success or achievement. All that matters is, when someone starts to struggle or fail, they find effective interventions quickly so that the negative behaviors (test-taking is a behavior, for the most part) can be addressed and replaced with positive behaviors. Boards struggles can come from a variety of causes, many of which can be self-fueling fires. Boards questions, while tricky, are not trick questions. STATMed can clearly illustrate the difference. Likewise, having a rigid process can reduce or eliminate situational test anxiety, give clients control over their situation, and teach them how to identify what they know and do not know using concrete re-study methodologies to get more yield out of every study session so that can still live their lives