Study time

Hello all!

I’m new to this site and was looking for something on what to expect for studying and class time in Med school.

Are classes typically 5 days a week? How many hours of class time per week? How much studying did you do during each of the 4 years?

I need to convince my wife my ambitions won’t end our marriage (just kidding… mostly)

Thanks in advance for any help.

It really depends of the school and the program that you go into. I am in a traditional program and I am in class from 9-5 on most days. Sometimes, 8-5 and sometime 9-3:30.

As for study time, this is really personal. I tend to really study hard Sunday through Friday and I take Friday and Saturday off. I spend time with my family during this time. I take my girls to school every morning and if I can, I will pick them up from activities.

However, all of this is suspended during exam week. My wife is very supportive and if she needs some time, we try to arrange it the best that we can. And now that our local synagogue has put up a babysitter list, we can go out on Saturday nights.

You spend a lot of time studying, but you also need to have a life or you will burn out.

Is that time filled completely with classes or do you have gaps in the day during which you could study?

It depends on the day. Second semester, both first and second years, has a lot more afternoons off or not completely filled than first semester has. It’s not enough to be your studying for the day, but it does help.

  • FlyingSpgttMonster Said:
Hello all!

I'm new to this site and was looking for something on what to expect for studying and class time in Med school.

Are classes typically 5 days a week? How many hours of class time per week? How much studying did you do during each of the 4 years?

I need to convince my wife my ambitions won't end our marriage (just kidding... mostly)

Thanks in advance for any help.

Scheduling is definitely school-dependent. Some schools have a 9-5, five days a week type of schedule, and others have half that time. Some schools have required attendance during years 1 and 2, and others only require you to show up for clinics and exams. When you go on your interviews, ask the med students you meet to give you the names and emails of nontrads or other married students at their school who can discuss nontrad student life with you. We have quite a number of students over age 30 at my school, and it makes for a nice support and social group. During year 3, you will be spending a lot of time in the hospital on some of your rotations like surgery. Make sure your wife is aware of that. Fourth year is often easier, but you'll be going away for interviews and maybe doing sub-internships, so again it can be busy.

In answer to your second question about time needed for studying, again, it depends. Basically, you spend as much time as you need in order to master the material and pass the classes. Some schools have tests every week or two, while others do block tests, and a few programs have no tests at all. You will probably study more when a test is coming up and less at other times. Even within the same program, some people have to study more than others to master the same material. Life is just unfair that way, I'm afraid.

Hope this helps, and best of luck to you.

You WILL devote the vast majority of your time to your school pursuits. If you’re at a school where the lecture schedule is more 8-5ish, maybe the in-class lectures and reviews will mean that you study on your own a bit less. If, on the other hand, you’re at a school where classes take up much less of the time, you’ll probably find that you must study a lot more on your own. Either way you will be studying harder and longer than you have any ability to imagine at this point. It is a very demanding and time-consuming job.

While in my first two years of med school, I had a modified lecture schedule so that I did have off some afternoons. I was able to bring my daughter to her orthodontist appointments and skating practices, as well as go away some weekend days to visit my son in college or take my daughter to skating competitions. It’s not that you have NO life, it’s that you have to work in the things that are important to you alongside the incredible time-sucking enterprise that is med school.

Third year is far more demanding than the first two years, because clerkships require that you get there early and stay late, that you prepare talks and presentations when you’re home, that you take call which can mean overnight or at least until very late at night, and that you work some weekends. And it’s pretty inflexible - your ability and willingness to do the work is going to be directly reflected in your grade, so I sure wouldn’t have dared to ask to leave early to take my daughter to the orthodontist, for example. Uh-uh, that is NOT how it works.

(I did get excused from one morning during my pediatrics sub-I fourth year, to go to court!!! But when one of our kids got worrisome sick during that same sub-I, it was my husband who brought her to the doctor, not me.)

You will have some time on weekends, but you will also need to study many many hours on weekends. I tended to get less done during the week, because of my commute and my family stuff, so wasn’t seen much by my family on the weekends. OTOH, you can only study so many hours at a time, so I DID do some family stuff. It’s not like they forgot who I was or anything.

I would liken the commitment of med school to a job where you are always bringing a LOT of work home.


  • FlyingSpgttMonster Said:
Is that time filled completely with classes or do you have gaps in the day during which you could study?

My program was very traditional at the time I went through; however, it is substantively different now. My classes were essentially 8am/9am thru 4pm/5pm & later on lab days sometimes as late as 6pm or so fof labs. So, were talking 40+hrs/wk of lecture/lab time. But, attendance, at KCOM, was not required - occasionally we'd have something required & all labs were required. Otherwise, we were free, as adults should be, to choose how to best invest our time. If we wanted to be in lecture, we could. If we wanted to be elsewhere to study independently, we could. But, we were all still 100% accountable for what showed up on exams.

I think the quantity of lecture was a bit excessive, but I only went to lectures from professors who I knew to be quality lecturers that would produce high-yield for me. Otherwise, I skipped out to one of our break-out rooms to study on my own with my tunes & headphones.

All in all, I would say that during years 1 & 2, you could expect to spend somewhere on the order of 60~80hrs/wk either in class, in lab or studying independently. Some will require more & others less. It is very very dependent upon the individual, how they learn & how efficient they become at learning.

Years 3 & 4 area whole nuther ballgame. There is far less classtime in most programs, but a TON of clinical time. I averaged 100hrs/wk on most rotations & occasionally (surgery, ICU, IM...) surpassed 120hrs in a week. The last 2 years are very time intensive. Again though, I went through this prior to the resident work hours restrictions, which limit residents to allegedly 80hrs/wk. Now, med students are not officially a part of this policy. But, I suspect that most programs are mimicking those regulations for the med students.

One thing that saves a little time for me is that all lectures (unless they miss one) are recorded on mp3. And I’ve found that with some lecturers, my time is a lot better used by skipping the lecture and listening to that pokey booger on the computer at double speed.

The pregnant pauses are a lot less painful.

Don’t forget to program in some sleep. As reported in numerous places lately, and most recently a “lay” article in today’s NYTimes, the brain works with new information much better when sleep is part of the program. :slight_smile: