Expectation vs Reality: Studying

Last time, I talked about my expectations and the reality of the course load and curriculum at LMU-CVM. Another expectation I had about vet school was the amount of time I would spend studying. Even after talking with several medical students and my parents (who are physicians), all of whom told me “you’ll be studying ALL THE TIME”, I still wasn’t prepared for the vast amounts of information I would be receiving and the amount of time outside of class that I would have to spend reviewing the day’s lectures, preparing for the next day’s lectures, and compiling resources in outlines, study guides, and flashcard sets in anticipation of our next test. 

During the question and answer session at the last interview day for Class of 2019 potential students, I had the following exchange with an interviewee:
Interviewee: So what do you do when you’re not in class?
Me: Studying.
Interviewee: What are you doing when you’re not studying?
Me: Sleeping.

This may be slightly exaggerated (I do take time to eat and shower), but in general I’m studying most of the time that I’m out of class or lab. There’s an overwhelming amount of information that is difficult to manage, especially in the first few weeks of class when I wasn’t completely prepared to organize and integrate the material.

Study groups

In undergrad, I was involved in a couple of study groups for physics and biochemistry. Going into vet school, I really wasn’t expecting to be as involved in study groups as I am now. My group gets together three to four times a week, on average, and on the weekends before exams to review material and discuss parts that we may be having difficulties understanding or remembering.

To really make study groups effective, we all have to come prepared. With the amount of information that we have to learn, I can’t simply go into a study group and expect it to be taught again to me. I have to look over and study the information by myself first so that I have a good handle on the parts that I fully understand and those that I need help on. Most people in my group are visual learners, so we often fill the whiteboards with diagrams and charts, then take pictures of the diagrams for reference later.

We also like to make up funny stories that help solidify minute details in our heads; for instance, we had vesicular transport on our last cell biology test, and there are three different types of vesicles that have different routes in the cell. COPI (associated with Arf protein) goes from the Golgi to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), while COPII goes from the ER to the Golgi. We imagined the endoplasmic reticulum as the “emergency room” and the Golgi being the bad part of town; so if there’s only one cop in the bad part of town (i.e. COPI), then he needs a dog (i.e. Arf). If there’s two cops heading to the bad part of town (i.e. COPII), then they don’t need a dog. It’s silly and doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but none of us forgot it!

Organizing notes after lecture

I’m very outline-oriented, so I usually take the lecture objectives that professors give us and reorganize their PowerPoint to fit into the objectives. I also love to color-code; for example, my anatomy outlines always have vascular structures in red, nerves in green, muscles in orange, and organs in pink. My lab dissection guide is also coded in the same way-it makes referencing and finding information much easier when I have a question. I try to integrate information from as many sources as possible (lectures, lab dissection guide, textbook) so that I have the most complete picture.

Studying for vet school is different than I expected, but I’ve been able to adapt well to the huge amounts of information that I’m expected to know. I’m always working to improve my study habits so I can learn more effectively.

What are some of your expectations about vet school? I may address them next time!

If you want more information on LMU-CVM, check out the admissions page, feel free to email me, or leave a comment!

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Posted on April 16, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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