any tips on improving recall during tests?

My semester is not going well. I failed my molecular genetics test and got C’s on my first and second microbiology exams. The main issue in both cases was inability to recall during the exam; I prepared for these exams by making summary “mind map” charts, and quizzing myself. In the past I had made flashcards but they did not help much. Unfortunately, neither did the summary charts.

Can anyone suggest ways to improve recall during tests? My post-bacc science GPA is not very good, and the main reason is due to poor test grades (and the fact that my school does not give out +/- grades. I end up with a B or C).

On the other hand, I tend to do well in coursesn based on papers; writing essays and term papers has always been especially easy for me, and many of the ones I have written have won awards.

I am beginning to have doubts whether I can make it through medical school if I cannot recall on exams. I have been to psychologists and psychiatrists for this problem, and have tried a variety of prescription meds, but nothing has worked. I am discouraged.

I am guessing you have already tried this but I use mnemonics or I associate what I am trying to remember with something personal. It can be completely ridicules that only you will understand but it might help on the test. So for instance when trying to remember cis and trans in organic you could think cis sounds like sister and sisters stick together, or trans sounds like trains and that made me think of across the track so that was opposite. Sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud but once you think of something that makes sense to you it might stick.Let us know if you find something that works for you, it might work for someone else too.

The best thing I’ve done is to simply work the problems until I truly understand WHY. The nuances that show up on tests are often not in the text (or are not highlighted so are easy to gloss over) but can be discovered in the details in the problem sets. In isolation, facts are useless bits of trivia; together, they work together to make a cohesive whole. If I haven’t worked with something so much that I do have instant recall for something, I can sit back and work from what I know to what must make sense in this instance, with this problem.

In nursing, a simple example was trying to remember the difference in how the feet/ankles look with venous insufficiency vs arterial insufficiency. Trying to simply memorize which was which got me all turned around; thinking through WHY they would look one way vs the other made it all click. In arterial insufficiency, there is poor blood flow (nutrients/oxygen) TO the extremities, so the symptoms are based on lack of nutrients…thin shiny skin without hair, cooler extremities; in venous insufficiency, the blood/nutrients get to the tissues, but is stuck there for too long…so you see thicker skin with brownish discoloration, often swelling, and warm extremities. Makes perfect sense…but I couldn’t just memorize it. Context is key.

Hoping you find something that helps YOU!


A few tips

To stimulate neural plasticity and memory and increase the neural map sizes associated with processing info practise logic problems consistenly

Fill in missing gaps in your med knowledge. A previous poster mentioned understanding concepts this is key. If we don’t understand something this maybe because there are sometimes missing pieces of information. Specify what you don’t understand and backtrack to find links to bridge the knowledge gaps. You can then scaffold. Practise problems

Find relationships between pieces of information. Use mindmaps. To transfer the info from short term memory (which holds info for a few seconds) to long term mem. rapidly draw the mindmaps as fast as you can upto 10 times don’t worry about being neat just scrawl the complete map in say 10 seconds. Reference your original neat master mindmap as needed. Rapidly scrawl until you don’t need to reference the original mindmap. In an exam, when you are given scrap paper immediately rapid draw the mindmaps, from memory, to re-use as a memory aid. This may also decrease anxiety, stimulate memory function and increase prefrontal and temporal cortical processing.

Eat brain foods. Eggs, fish, dark green veg. Omega 3 rich foods and Exercise

Meditate daily 15 minutes.

all the above will contribute to increasing cortical processing. Check out the research.

Read books like The Brain that Changes Itself

Try online memory games

If you follow the above prob notice a difference in about 3 to 5 weeks. Beware I am not saying this will turn u into a genius.