Gain a Deeper Understanding with the Power of Test-Enhanced Learning

Welcome to part two of our blog series in which we share proven learning strategies behind the Osmosis platform that help students learn medicine more effectively. (Read about spaced repetition and memory palaces in parts 1 and 3 of the series!)

Today, we’re going to explore test-enhanced learning, the act of testing yourself to improve your knowledge of a given subject. This study technique is discussed throughout our new textbook, How to Learn in the Health Professions, as well as in our video series on the science of learning.

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5 Tips for Developing a USMLE Step 1 Study Plan

USMLE Step 1 study plan

Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (or USMLE) covers all preclinical topics taught in medical school, from DNA replication to the details of disorders like ulcerative colitis and diabetes. Depending on your school’s curriculum, you may take this test anywhere between completion of your preclinical requirements and graduation, with the majority of schools offering a “dedicated” study period in which to review after wrapping up preclinical classes. No matter when you plan to take Step 1, however, one thing is clear: there is a lot to go over, and you probably do not feel like you have enough time to cover everything. Developing a reasonable study plan as you head into your dedicated study period can help reduce Step 1 preparation from an impossible task to one that seems difficult, yet doable. Studying for Step 1 will never be easy, but these five tips can make it more manageable:

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Confessions of a Former Mediocre Premed Student

premed

By Yoo Jung Kim, MD Candidate, Stanford University

Many students start college gung-ho about going into medicine, and many end up falling short of their goals. Their reasons are varied. Some discover new careers that better appeal to their interests; others realize that they can’t stomach the long commitment required in medicine. However, the saddest group of people are those who come to believe that they aren’t cut out for becoming a physician because of their performance in science courses. I was very close in becoming one of them.

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The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices have gained momentum in the modern world and with good reason: they are … Read more

5 Ways to Study for the MCAT Using Your Smart Phone

You can do almost anything with your smart phone these days. You can video call a friend in China, order pizza with the click of a button, and even see in the dark! So, if your smart phone can help you do these and an almost infinitely large number of other things, then why can’t you use it to study for the MCAT? In this article, I am going to show you that you not only can, but should use your smart phone to study for the MCAT. Here are 5 ways that you can start using your iPhone to study for the MCAT right now:

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A Medical Student’s Suggestions on Improving Your Productivity

While I was a medical scribe in Texas, I had many conversations with doctors about what medical school is like. I vividly remember one instance where a physician responded to the question with, “Medical school is like a course in time management. You’ll really learn how to manage your time and fit everything in as a med student.” Below, I give seven of the most useful tips I wish I had known before entering med school. They are not in any particular order, nor are they reserved for only medical students: these suggestions are for anyone looking to improve their overall productivity.

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Dealing With Premed Stress

premed stress

With another busy semester behind you, you might be using your summer to work or volunteer, prepare for the MCAT exam, or work on your medical school applications. But summer is also a good opportunity to catch your breath and practice a little self-care. Being a premed is stressful, but there are healthy habits you can start practicing now that will help you manage stress next semester, and later when you’re in medical school.

1. Cook at home. It’s tempting to save time by always buying meals on the go, but cooking for yourself can actually be a stress relieving activity. And it’s often the healthier choice. Plus, it will save you money! Try listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you cook, or turn it into a social activity by cooking with your roommate or significant other.

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4 Things I Wish I’d Known About the MCAT

taking the mcat

Walking out of the test center after I had completed the MCAT was a surreal experience. Somehow, the far-off test date for which I had been preparing for months had not only arrived, but had already passed. I was suddenly and thankfully in possession of all of the components of a complete medical school application, as an MCAT score was the last blank space to fill on my impending AMCAS application.

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Osmosis Co-Founders Ryan Haynes and Shiv Gaglani

 
Ryan Haynes, PhD and Shiv Gaglani, MBA discuss how they went from anatomy partners to the founders of Osmosis, an advanced learning platform that helps medical & other health professional students succeed in classes, on board exams, and in the clinic.
Tell us about yourself
Ryan: I’ve had a longstanding interest in how the brain works. Before attending Hopkins for med school I did a PhD in neuroscience at Cambridge studying decision making. I now live in Charlottesville, Virginia where my wife is a resident in neurology at UVA.
Shiv: I am passionate about developing scalable solutions in the fields of healthcare and education. I attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine between 2011-2013 and then took a leave of absence to co-found Osmosis as well as complete an MBA at Harvard Business School. I’m now based back in Baltimore where my fiance, Malorie, is an OB/GYN resident at Johns Hopkins.

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How Do College and Medical School Classes Differ?

As a premedical student, you are likely familiar with some of the subjects that are covered in the standard medical school curriculum. After all, how different could biochemistry in medical school be from undergraduate biochemistry?
While your premedical courses will certainly provide you with a strong background with which to approach medical school, it is imperative that you understand that undergraduate classes differ substantially from medical school courses in both difficulty and breadth of content. Think of your undergraduate science education as preparation for medical school—not as an opportunity to cover all of the material in one of your medical school classes prior to matriculation. Here are four key ways in which medical school courses differ from undergraduate classes, as well as some tips on how to deal with these differences:

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What to Expect as a Med School Spouse: Years 1 and 2

Medical Spouse

By Amy Rakowczyk, SDN Staff Writer

Congratulations! You are now officially a Medical Spouse. This is a highly rewarding, and also a highly challenging role. You’ve undoubtedly heard that “medical school is hard” and that there is a lot of studying and exams ahead. Your spouse is about to embark upon a completely new path, and you as the spouse, are along for the ride. This article is here to help you understand what’s in store so you can prepare yourself for the next two years!

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So Little Time: Prioritizing For Healthy Time Management

Chronicles of a Med Student

As I enter the thick of studying for board exams, I’m reminded even more every day to stay calm, grounded, and keep my head clear. This is the last semester of my pre-clinical education (I can’t believe how time has flown!), and I’m caught in a balance of staying positive about that as well as juggling my hours of studying for board exams. I’ve experienced just about every emotion in the past few weeks, but one of them has always been there lurking underneath the surface: the feeling of being overwhelmed. I’ve touched on this multiple times before, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay mentally stable and sane through the medical training process! I have found myself slipping these last few weeks as I try to “do it all”, so I had to reach out.

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Board Preparation: Training for a Marathon, not a Sprint 

The first key to success on the boards is using practice questions to develop your “hunch reflex.” If you’re a second year medical student, “kinda-sorta” thinking about a certain test you’ll have to take in about six months, and you haven’t already begun using USMLE/COMLEX-style practice questions in your study, you should start now. Even if you’re just half way through first year, start incorporating the following advice into your study plan: questions, questions, questions!

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Managing Anxiety on Test Day

managing anxiety

Taking the MCAT can be a nerve-wracking experience. In fact, many students develop significant test anxiety as a result of the MCAT’s role in the medical school admissions process. If this scenario describes you, here are several tips to help you successfully manage this anxiety:

1. Review difficult details and concepts on your test day
As you study for the MCAT, proactively compile a list of those details and concepts that you consistently struggle to understand. On the morning of your exam, wake up an hour early to review this list. This can help you refresh your memory and begin the MCAT in a much calmer mood.

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