One of the first things we learned in medical school was that there is no one “correct” way to study. Every person has a distinct learning style or combination of styles that they will respond to. It can take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you.
In sharing the strategies that have worked for me, my goal is not to persuade anyone that it is the “best” or “correct” one, but rather to introduce and inform about things to try out for yourselves.
I, myself, am a read/write and visual learner. I retain things well by reading and writing them down, and respond well to pictures and color-coded information. I take all my notes by hand, which, although it is a much slower method than typing, forces me to pause and process the information as I’m writing. I like drawing things out and using color to understand concepts.
Today I wanted to show you some of the products that have carried me throughout this grueling but wonderful journey:
Miquelrius Spiral Notebooks (alternate): I’ve been using this brand since my undergrad years and they are still the best I’ve ever tried. Sturdy coated spiral binding, smooth pages, perforation for easy tear-out. It really doesn’t get better than this. They sell college ruled, blank, and grid paper varieties in a number of sizes and weights. My favorites are the 8.5 x 11″ size at 70 g/m2 wt, college-ruled, 4 subject notebooks (separated by colored borders, not physical dividers) with a hard cardboard cover. Oh, and did I mention they make the most beautiful covers? Not a necessity by any means, but certainly lights up my day in a small way. They do tend to be more expensive than the average notebook, but I’ve found them for much cheaper at my school bookstore than I have on Amazon.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pen Set of 20: The gold standard in colored pens for note-taking. I remember seeing these on a friend’s Instagram many years ago when she started med school, and resolved to myself that I would get these if I got in myself. I regularly use about 15/20 colors in my set. They don’t dry out even when I accidentally leave them uncapped, and they don’t bleed through most paper.
Pilot G2 Extra Fine Gel Ballpoint Pens: I use these to take notes on the readings prior to lecture. I’ve been using the Fine size (0.7mm) since I was in high school, but in recent years have been loving the thinner but still smooth-writing quality of the Extra Fine size (0.5mm).
Zebra Clip-on Multifunctional Pen/Pencil: A multi-colored pen WITH a mechanical pencil built in? Every classmate that I’ve shown this pen has expressed nothing short of awe at the ingenuity of Japanese company Zebra–“IT EVEN HAS AN ERASER ON THE END!” I don’t even like using pencil that much, but I love having the option at hand. I use this pen to take annotate my notes during class lectures. Having multiple colors makes it easy to draw graphs and diagrams as we speed through them in lecture. They even sell refill packs by individual colors!
Tombow Mono Original Correction Tape: Correction tape is a must for any pen lover. I’ve found that this brand has the most smooth applying finish and longevity out of the many I’ve tried over the years.
If you have any study aids in your arsenal that are tried and true, please send your ideas my way–would love to try new things! Happy studying!