Biochemistry usually is one of the most comfortable classes in the first year of medical school since everyone has taken it at some point before matriculation. Although it may feel familiar, it’s not the same as undergraduate biochemistry. Here are a few tips that helped me in biochemistry.
- Read the Lecture Presentations – Most of my professors had PowerPoint reviews summarizing main points from the textbook. Since I was familiar with many of the biochemistry topics, I didn’t read most of the textbook. However, I definitely found it helpful to read about new topics that I didn’t have much background in. Also, my textbooks often provided explanations that professors glossed over during lecture.
- Draw Pathways – Drawing pathways wasn’t always popular prior to medical school. This quickly changed when we covered metabolism, since it involves many pathways. To better understand the names of the enzymes and intermediates, I found it most helpful to draw the pathways over and over again.
- Break Pathways – Breaking pathways is the best way to test yourself, since it requires you to have knowledge about what an enzyme/intermediate does and what downstream effects can occur as a result.
- Combine Pathways – Textbooks and professors won’t always spell out how each pathway is connected to one another. I found that creating a big overview drawing showing how each pathway fed or connected to the next helped me understand their relationships better. For example, I made drawings that compared the fed state vs. the unfed state.
- Rate Limited Steps = Most Important Steps – This is a topic I struggled with in medical school, since my undergraduate institution emphasized every intermediate or enzyme in the reaction. In contrast, medical school professors tend to emphasize rate limited steps more. It’s important to learn the whole pathway, but for prioritizing information, the rate limited steps are the most important and most clinically relevant pathways.
- Anki or Quizlet Study Decks – Flashcards can be very helpful for memorizing terms. Online flashcard websites like Anki and Quizlet helped me remember the names of enzymes, especially since some of the names sound very similar.