Studying and LEARNING

Kudos to this forum! Since stumbling on OPM a few days ago I’ve managed to dig up more useful information than the previous YEAR on my own. Y’all ROCK!!

I am a mech engineer/program manger who is SICK of staff meetings and killing my eyes at a computer screen all day. I’ve started mapping out my route to medicine, and have started taking the steps to get me there. So far so good. I start org chem on tuesday, and am pretty darn excited about it!

One concern that I have is my learning/studying habits. As an undergrad (Air Force Academy 01, Mech Engr) I trained myself to cram and dump information like nobodys business…I am great at it. Only now, I don’t want to cram and dump, I want to LEARN the information and keep it for the MCAT and beyond. I’m wondering if anyone knows of any programs, classes, or books that can help me re-program myself to learn and STORE information more efficiently than I currently do???



Welcome to OPM, ReAnn .

I couldn’t tell you any specific programs or strategies that will teach you how to understand information, rather than regurgitating it. Identifying that as something to work on is the first step, I’m sure, so it sounds like you’re on your way, at least. I think any opportunity to think critically will force you to develop these skills - a conceptually challenging course, some semi-independent research, etc.

Two things I’ve found help me with this:

1 - Try to process the information as much as you can, while you’re in class. Rather than just jotting it down, think about it. How does it connect with other things you know? What does it imply?

2 - If you have the opportunity, stay 5 minutes late for every class. For me, at least, I can organize (and therefore understand and retain) information a lot better, just by doing something as simple as staying in my seat and thinking about it.

One other thing to keep in mind is your desire for medicine vs mechE. Are you running to medicine, or from the monotony of your job?

Good luck with organic ! That’s a big step in this whole process. Do you already have a strong chemistry background?

Hi Adam, Thanks for your reply!

Don’t get me wrong!!..I admittedly am running FROM a job/career, but the decision to go to medicine has been long in the making. When I chose engineering it was a means to an end…it was not for the journey. I was supposed to be a pilot in the Air Force and what I majored in didn’t matter. Then they got short on engineers and presto chango, I was no longer a pilot…but I still had 5 years to serve to pay back my school. When you are on active duty the government OWNS you, and I did what THEY wanted me to do for 5 years. (Please don’t read this as a complaint…I treasure my time in the military) But now it’s my turn and I’m ready to pursue what I’ve discovered to be a passion, and I’m in it for the right reasons now. Heck, I might even go back into the military as a physician, I can’t think of a more deserving place for me to serve.

Oh, and I don’t have nearly the chemistry background that I’d like going into this class, but I’m hoping what I do remember will serve me well!! And I’m prepared to dedicate most waking hours, outside of work, to nailing this one down

congratulations on the first step and thank you for your service. I just joined the reserves myself Naval Officer Direct Commission and joined for a means to an end- transfer and re-designate into medical corps via the Health Professions Scholarship Program. (HPSP) i’m in the supply corps now. i actually wanted nothing more but to earn an air force commission about 3 yrs ago and they wanted nothing to do with me since i didn’t have a technical degree. and forget flying since i didnt have one and they were phasing out… oh well i guess i’ll be happy serving in the capacity i’m given. tell me … was it hard for you to see pilots and jets all the time when you weren’t able to go through the pipeline? do you eventually get over the fact that you’re not on that track? i ask b/c I see the bomber jackets and wings of gold and am secretly jealous thanks

Reann - I agree with the other Adam. Strive to really understand the material - don’t just memorize. If there is something you don’t get, keep reading, discussing or whatever until it fits.

Secondly, iteration is key. The more times content passes through your brain in a meaningful way, the more solid and understandable it will become. It will become accessible when you need it as well!

So to prepare for class, I skim the chapters being covered and try to learn the key concepts. I note the things I don’t get yet. Then I am listening for both in the lecture. Since I have an expectation for what is being covered in lecture, I find I have much better active listening skills. After class the next day I carefully read the text, rereading anything I don’t get. In recitation and lab I look for the same content to be provided in a different perspective but strive to see how it all fits. I ask questions for anything that doesn’t jive.

There are also lots of resources on the web that give interactive content. The one I am using for my bio class is a companion to our text book. It also has quizes and tests to see how you are doing.

Real learning is interactive and is work. But I love learning so I find it fun and fascinating. I hope you do too!