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Study tips for PA school


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Frequently Ive heard that once you are in PA school you have to learn to study different ways. As a visual and artistic person I like to draw things on a dry erase board and write things out to learn things such as chemistry and anatomy. Does anyone have their top study tips once they start PA school? Id like to learn some different techniques before August comes around. Thank you so much!

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I definitely retain info better by drawing and writing stuff out.  I didn't have any formal program to learn that way for me. What I did through didactic year was to write short answer tests off of my notes--I made two versions, one with Q&A, and one with just the questions.  I learned more from creating the tests, but I'd share my work product with my class and several other students used them to study as well.

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5 hours ago, rev ronin said:

I definitely retain info better by drawing and writing stuff out.  I didn't have any formal program to learn that way for me. What I did through didactic year was to write short answer tests off of my notes--I made two versions, one with Q&A, and one with just the questions.  I learned more from creating the tests, but I'd share my work product with my class and several other students used them to study as well.

I appreciate all of your advice. I also like to make test but wasn't sure if that was a practical thing to do once in PA school due to the time constraints. I will definitely incorporate that into my study guides though. Thank you Rev Ronin.

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I started PA school 7 months ago. The first  few couple of weeks I would make flash cards and outlines for the classes that I had that day. I gave up on the flashcards pretty early on because it was time consuming and just made outlines throughout the semester for the hardest class which was physiology at the time. I would also make some test questions and scenarios that I thought would come up on the exam for that class. Everyone studies differently, but I just learn better and retain more information if it is on paper and I highlight and read the information a couple of times rather than staring at a powerpoint. That being said, when fall semester came along, I found myself a study group with people that have similar study habits as myself. We would divide and conquer, basically assign people to do outlines/charts for different classes, we do them during class while simultaneously highlighting and color coding key elements (paying attention in class is important but taking advantage of the 8 hours/day you are in class to get ahead in other things especially when there are 3 exams a week  is VERY helpful). Basically all of our study materials would be ready and organized before we began studying for exams. We would each study on our own and on the day before the test we would review the material outloud, ask ourselves questions, come up with interesting ways to remember the information. We would also write many things on the board, breaking things down by topic to help things stick, take a picture of it and then review in the morning. It was like a nice little summary. Like I said, everyone is different, I was never a group studier until PA school, but this really works for me. If you can get a few people to contribute, divides who does flashcards, quizlets, charts or whatever, it will be soooo much easier

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Hi there! The biggest piece of advice I can give you for making the most out of your study time during didactic year is to appropriately prioritize the material you are given. Between PowerPoints and supplemental reading, it is almost impossible to memorize every last bit of content in front of you. With each slide, ask yourself, "what are the top 3 things I absolutely MUST know from this slide?" Then (and this the part that is easier said than done) don't worry about the rest. If it's not clinically relevant and it's unlikely to be on the boards, then don't waste your time studying it. 

My classmates thought I was crazy at first for purposely not studying so much of the content that was given to us. My notes were among the shortest, most concise in my class. But it worked -- I earned straight A's and never failed an exam. Many of my classmates learned the hard way that your test scores are not directly proportional to the amount of notes you take. It is better to have a firm grasp on the most important information than it is to spend an equal amount of time on each detail.  If you aren't sure what the key takeaways are, UpToDate is a fantastic resource. My rule of thumb = if you can't find it on UpToDate, it's probably not that important. 

I personally didn't use any supplemental textbooks but many of my friends found PANCE Prep Pearls to be very helpful. Also, don't use flashcards for anything except pharmacology and dermatomes. And for those, don't write them by hand -- waste of time. Download Anki instead (electronic flashcard software for your desktop/phone; no internet connection required). 

Hope this helps! Good luck!

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