Saturday, 3 November 2012

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Remember! Memorize! Optimize! Rationalize!

Which one is best, you continuously ask yourself, to memorize or to...what?

Oh, yes. I know, our schools taught us that we should always MEMORIZE a list of 1,000 reasons of this, and 1,000 types of that, and 5,000,000 antibiotics, and gees!, when does the memorizing stop!?

Memory? Why, it's like a drawer full of clothing. Once you close it it's basically useless.

Then why do we memorize so much? Damn... because that's the way we've been taught to study.

But wait, is there another approach to learn hoards of information. Yes. And a more effective one.

I talk about this arduosly in my book: How to Utterly Defeat the USMLE.

Basically, learning stuff by actively using the information you wish install into your hardware is 10x more effective during intense periods of stress during the exam. Why? Because, as you may well predict it, medicine is not about empirically treating patients, it's about case-to-case analysis and by-the-second decision-making. 

The exam is designed to mimic real life situations, where you have but ONE minute to make the call and save a life.

You have to promote critical thinking, and this is achieved by actively learning material. You can do this also by cross-linking information learned.

For example, as I mention it in my book, How to Utterly Defeat the USMLE, studying biochemistry is not about understanding JUST biochemistry. You have to know your basic pharmacology and infectious diseases, your basic chemistry and basic histology. You'll understand, that like every organism alive, it is not JUST one thing, but a complete mixture of many, many processes happening dynamically at the same time. When you understand that the mitochondria is not just an organelle  but also a powerhouse, that produces ATP, and that this organelle is affected by cyanide, and that it's impaired in the Mitochondrial Diseases, and that.... etc. You will begin to perceive medicine as a whole as it dynamically works within a living organism. So memory is no longer needed, because instead of listing names, you'll be able to PIECE out the information because you understand how it works. Memory is not needed. It's just back-packing hoards of stones that become useless during high stress periods.

You might enjoy checking this section out in more detail in my book How to Utterly Defeat the USMLE

Other articles you may like:
1. Preparing for exam day. Nervous? Hell yeah!