One of the biggest challenges in medical school is retaining all this new information, particularly for the boards. One technique that has helped me is using Spaced Learning. For Step 1, I use Osmosis as my main study conduit, and its material is based on this concept.
Spaced Learning is about maximizing the process of forgetting and relearning. When we learn new material, we quickly forget it, exponentially. This idea was pioneered by Ebbinghaus. Review material at increasingly spaced intervals actually will help reduce forgetting. It’s what I call the “Oh yeah, I remember that!” phenomenon (not-so-scientific). For material that you are more familiar with, you review it less often, than material you are less familiar with. Makes sense.
But it goes counter to the argument of “just reading through First Aid once” or “really studying cardiology for 5 days and then never touching the concept again,” which happens often in studying in medical school. That’s why it’s ideal to go through concepts at least twice. When doing Qbanks, for example, going through questions more than once is optimal.
The two challenges with Spaced Learning are time and volume. How can you manage so many old concepts when you have to learn all these new concepts? It’s about a selective review. If you really know the pathologies of different thyroid cancers, you can review that concept later. If you’re stuck on the vitamin B deficiencies, review that material. In terms of time, pick a day each week to just review old concepts you struggle with.
That’s why random, timed Qbanks can be effective in helping with Spaced Learning. When you get a question wrong (or just guess), take the time to not just read why you got a topic wrong, but also re-learn the subject (either through a video online, First Aid, etc). For example, I have retaught myself rheumatic fever at least 5 times these past 5 weeks because it’s always tested and each time, I cement my understanding of the disease further.
Do other people study similarly?