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Never Fail a Medical Exam: Train an Impeccable Memory

Discussion in 'Medical Students Cafe' started by Hadeel Abdelkariem, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. Hadeel Abdelkariem

    Hadeel Abdelkariem Golden Member

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    Degrees in health and medicine require students to internalize vast amounts of information. From the component parts and structures of the body, to the inner workings of microbiological processes, to classifications of organisms and bacteria, there’s always a set of concepts or terms that you’re expected to learn and understand for medical exams. Luckily there are a number of tricks and techniques that will help you improve your memory. While you’re at it, why not supplement your diet with foods that boost your brainpower?

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    Free Your Mind
    Don’t make your brain work harder than it has to on life-organization tasks and time management. Keeping your entire week’s schedule in your brain is a waste of your mental resources. Using planners, calendars, checklists, and other tools to support your executive function lets you focus more on studying, and will also prevent excessive worry and anxiety, which can severely affect your test performance. When using a planner, don’t just plot due dates; plan exactly when you’ll work on each individual project or assignment. Similarly, don’t just plot tests and quizzes, set regular times and days for review. Lists are your friend; use them to prioritize, to set daily goals, and to brainstorm new ideas.


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    Another type of mnemonic device: mapping concepts on the body. — Tdadamemd / wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Use the Old Memory Tricks

    Quick, recite the planets in our solar system: did your mind immediately jump to My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos? Mnemonic devices are a good tool for learning smaller sets of information. If the mnemonic method serves you very well, you could consider using it for longer sets. Another classic memory trick is simple repetition. Repetition can be used mentally or verbally. In fact, verbally repeating something often helps solidify it in your brain. For instance, when someone introduces themselves to you, consider repeating their name as you shake their hand. Finally, be sure to space out your studying. One continuous hour of strenuous mental work is less productive than three twenty-minute sessions. This is particularly useful when studying complicated information, as is the case with most students of health and medicine.

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    An example of instruction targeting visual learners. — Dell, Inc. / flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Be Creative with Test Prep

    Getting yourself to think in ways that might not be your natural modes of thought and learning can help you re-conceptualize information. For instance, if you usually focus on reading and writing to learn, it might be productive to take more visual notes or to draw images of concepts. Under these circumstances, the brain is making new connections and your ability to recall information related to that new topic will be strengthened. Try using all forms of expression as you learn: drawing, singing, talking, writing, and highlighting can all push your brain to make new connections. Using all of your senses can help with deeper learning, as well. For instance, the sense of smell is the most strongly connected to long-term memories. Try giving yourself a spritz of a certain type of perfume or cologne while studying, then spray on the same fragrance before a test or quiz. Ideally, the memories associated with that scent will be easier to access.

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