How I Study Smarter
Name: Jessica Shim, MD
Specialty: OB/GYN Year of
Residency: Graduated summer 2019!
Last Exam Taken: ABOG written boards (June 2019)
- Describe your study style in one word? Efficient
- Where do you study?
I study mainly at home on my kitchen table, or on the go.
- When do you study?
I increase my studying prior to an exam for at least 3 months. I set aside time several nights a week to stay home and study over dinner (eg, 2 hours of test questions on M/W/F). I also like to study in between cases or during any downtime, with the TrueLearn mobile app. For example, in the half hour it took to turnover the OR, I would go through several TrueLearn questions.
- What tools do you use to study?
I exclusively used TrueLearn to prepare for my CREOGs and written boards. However, I made sure throughout the rest of the year, to regularly go through committee opinions and practice bulletins. I assigned myself one committee opinion and practice bulletin per week, relevant to the rotation I was on.
- How do you decide what to study?
For me, I like question banks because it allows me to go through many different topics. I liked to go through a block of random questions, and would attempt to go through a block once daily when I was closer to the exam date. In the hour it takes to read one textbook chapter on a specific topic, I could go through many more questions on various topics. It also challenges me to stay on top of my test-taking skills. TrueLearn in particular also has great explanations that go in-depth, and also references in case you would like to read up further on the specific question topic.
- How do you balance your studying with your other priorities?
I set a schedule ahead of time and I make sure I follow it! I found it easiest to schedule by creating the events on my phone calendar to remind myself. I also prioritize rewarding myself if I stick to the schedule. So, if I studied the several times that week I told myself I would, I would allow myself to go out over the weekend. Setting a reward system made me more motivated, and less nervous for when I was not studying.
- What is a study method that you used to do but then realized it doesn’t work for you?
I used to exclusively read textbooks to prepare for an exam. However, I realized it does not work for me because it does not actively engage me or challenge my knowledge. Honestly, reading a textbook after a long clinical day would make me fall asleep! By taking practice tests from a question bank, I am learning and also assessing whether I am on track to do well.
- What is your #1 tip for efficient and effective studying?
Anticipate and set a schedule you can commit to. Also, make use of the time you have – breaks throughout the day can easily be used to answer a couple test questions.