Study Methods for Medical School

Medical school involves a host of tests and a dedicated study schedule. As a future physician, it is your duty to constantly be learning. From Step One USMLE through to Step 3 and every test in between, studying will quickly become a huge part of your life. And, with multiple ways to learn, there’s no doubt that every student has their own unique methods and preferences. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no value in exploring new study methods and finding better ways to excel. While the following is not an exhaustive list of study methods for med students, it includes some popular tools and techniques that many students have used for years. If you haven’t tried any of them, you may be surprised to find that they’re worthwhile.


Freewriting involves ‘dumping’ information on a piece of paper for a set time. In the case of studying medicine, this can begin with reviewing content from a lecture. Afterwards, try to recreate the structure of the lecture on paper, or write down what you can remember and your understanding of it. This can help you to identify gaps in your learning and/or understanding of certain concepts. Mark the sections or items that you’ve had trouble with and identify as gaps. Once you’ve reviewed your freewriting, focus on filling the gaps (understanding what you’ve missed) and free write again – hopefully with fewer gaps each time. Whether for Step One USMLE prep or a class test during your studies, freewriting can be highly effective.

Practice Tests

Practice tests allow students to familiarize themselves with the content and format of actual tests. USMLE Step 2 CK practice questions, for example, are designed to give you a better understanding of what you can expect from Step 2 CK. You’ll be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, figure out how long it takes to answer certain questions and get comfortable with the test format. For most learners, this is an effective and essential study method.

Mind Maps

Drawing a map of information is a helpful way of physically seeing how things relate. Because of this, mind mapping is particularly good for visual learners. Instead of making traditional notes and rereading textbooks, you can plot the different elements of a concept, chapter or lecture on a sheet of paper. Use visual marking (colors, shapes, or patterns) to separate clusters of information and you’ll have a great overview of how each part fits into the bigger picture.


Flashcards are a popular study tool in general, no matter what field you’re in. When verbally recited, they can be great for auditory learners. When color-coded, they can be extra helpful to visual learners. To make a good deck of flashcards, plan the content it will cover and what kinds of prompts you would like to include, For example, a card deck of USMLE Step 2 CK practice questions could prompt you to fill in the blanks of a statement, define a term, list the elements of a system or read a definition aloud. Get creative with your cards but keep them simple and easy to answer in a short amount of time. The aim is not to learn everything at once, but rather to learn small concepts from each card and retain what you can in that short set time.

Get A Tutor

Hiring a tutor that’s proficient with how the USMLE is structured can be of great help. With their knowledge and expertise, a tutor can help you give a stronger performance on the USMLE.