This tip definitely encompasses the rest of the tips below. It is a tip that everyone has heard, but it honestly is the most important thing you can do. Basically, the key is to learn how to study efficiently. It is much better to study for 5 good hours rather than 10 distracted hours or going over things that are not going to be on the test.
2. Figure out WHEN you study best.
I personally am a morning studier. I am much more awake, concentrated, and motivated during the beginning of the day when I wake up. To me, it is so nice to wake up, make breakfast and immediately start studying and getting things done. You get to lounge around in your pajamas and you start the day getting things accomplished. However, some people just cannot study in the mornings. They are too tired and really get an energy boost late at night. Just figure out which one is you, and try to study during those times if you can.
3. If there are two things to learn, only learn one.
This is one of those things that sounds so simple and intuitive, but when you are drained and burnt out, you almost forget about it. What I mean by only study one thing: If there are two diseases that are fairly similar to each other, study one of them. If the question is not the one that you studied, pick the other one. A good example of this would be Crohns Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis. Just pick one, study the major characteristics of it, and don’t study the other one. By process of elimination, you have studied both, but you only spent time on one.
4. Take breaks.
No matter how short of a time you have been studying, if you start to glaze over words or doze off…take a break. When you have only been studying for half an hour and you are already losing concentration, it may seem like the wrong time to take a break. However, if you continue to force yourself to study during a state of mind when you are not retaining anything, you are not helping yourself out. You are pushing yourself further into burnout and you are not learning. Take a 10 min break. Do some jumping jacks. Just don’t force yourself to study when your brain is telling you no. Eventually, your brain will adapt to studying for longer periods at a time. But work yourself up to that so to avoid burnout.
5. Find your motivation.
When you are deep into burnout…you need something to keep you studying. For me, this was researching residency programs or things that I wanted to do with my medical career. I would get excited about the future and get a burst of energy to study. Find what works for you.