3 Things: 1. Withdraw from all classes? 2. And a memory insight. 3. Retake.

I have 3 somewhat related questions.

  1. Withdraw from all classes?

    I had 3 tests and 1 quiz last week, and none went well. As I had written, I flubbed my physics test due to misreading things, I messed up my immunono quiz which was worth a lot, I had difficulty on my micro lab test, and last Friday had a lot of problems with remembering things on that test.

    The best I can hope for in any of these classes is a B right now. Once again I have aced myself out of an A. I’d like to preserve my mediocre post-bacc GPA and just drop everything, get W’s in these classes (these would make 6 Ws so far!), and start all over again next semester with a different study habit and a bit of med help.

  2. Memory aid.

    I went to a premed conference yesterday (Saturday) at a local medical school. I didn’t plan on staying the entire day, but I was taking another premed, so I was sort of obligated to be there the whole time. I did bring some study material, which I studied while the speakers and lecturers droned on and on – saying in 20 minutes what they could have said in 10.

    But the workshops were great. In particular there was one workshop on improving grades. I presented my study problem to the speaker – a national expert on memory, learning, and test-taking; he didn’t address my “blanking” on test, but he did address my sleep patterns. Normally, I sleep in the evening and get up very early in the morning to study – it is far quieter, there are fewer distractions due to fewer things around (fewer people/cars means fewer noises; no daylight, just dark outside). Then I go to class, but this means that I forget what I’ve studied that morning, because it rarely gets from the short-term into the long-term memory. The speaker said that it takes up to 5 sleep REM cycles to consolidate, apparently allow the hippocampus to move information into the neocortex, so sleeping after studying is much better that sleeping before studying. So I am going to switch things around, study --> sleep --> school/work.

  3. Repeating a class, again.

    4 semesters ago, I took a biochemistry course, part II, and got a C. I retook the course last semster (with a different professor), and still got a C. But both times I was studying with my old study habits (sleep --> study --> school), and I could never remember anything on tests no matter how much I went over the material, self-tested, etc. I really want to get an A in this course. Will it look bad to have taken a course 3 times before one gets an A, assuming I do get an A?

Getting a B is not that bad. but this is a decision that you need to make on your own. Before going ahead with changing your study habits, which makes a lot of sense to me, start with a small test.

Make the switch and let it take a couple of days for your body to get used it it. Then follow the new schedule and the next day, answer some practice questions without reviewing before hand and see if it works.

Biochemistry is not a required class for many medical schools, I say let sleeping dogs lie and move on.

I think that is an interesting point on changing your sleep habits to change your study habits. I am not doing well at all in my government class this semester. I have been studying in the morning for it as well then logging on to do the coursework, perhaps I should let it “settle” in my brain more, for a longer period of time, as suggested. Can’t hurt. I am maintaining a B average in this class and while I know it’s a government class and not on my Science GPA, I am working on some GPA repair so everything counts!!!

So, I had a test today. The first on which I tried the new approach of studying first, then sleeping, and then taking the test. I think I did much better on this test; I was still nervous, but I blanked out less, and with the exception of changing a set of right answers to wrong answers (multiple choice test), I did okay; most of the answers I knew. I tried visualizing my condensed notes in my mind, but they came out a blur – they always come out a blur. The only time I can visualize with clarity is just upon waking up and just before going to bed; at those times, my visualizing ability seems to work.

In the end, I am hoping for a B on this test; I wanted an A; however, so I am still disappointed, but it is a start. I am still going to get tested for ADD/ADHD.

From what I’ve gathered, you shouldn’t retake anything you passed with a C or better unless you can significantly improve your grade. If your new technique works for you and you’re confident you can ace biochemistry, then by all means, go for it.

As far as study skills are concerned, do whatever works for you. I’ve always done well studying into the late hours and getting up only as early as I have to, but that’s because I’m afraid I won’t wake up in time (physically or mentally) to study effectively in the morning. I’m exhausted after a full day, but I catch a second wind that has an adrenalizing effect on me. I always thought I’d be better off if I kept more “normal” hours, but I was afraid to change what worked for me. Changing your sleep patterns may or may not work, but give it a shot!