How I Study Smarter
Name: Alexandra Tepkasetkul, DO
Institution: Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Year of Residency: 3 (PGY3)
Last Exam Taken: Psychiatry Residency In-Training Examination (PRITE)
- Describe your study style in one word? Repetition
- Where do you study?
I typically study at home.
- When do you study?
I study on the weekends and after work.
- What tools do you use to study?
I have used TrueLearn Qbanks for COMLEX 1, 2, and 3, my COMATS and my PRITE exam. I also study from my old exams. As I complete questions, I jot down concepts I want to review further on sticky notes. I will then look at textbooks, most often Kaplan and Saddock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry, Kaufman’s Clinical Neurology for Psychiatrists, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, and the DSM 5, and study topics of which I need a better understanding.
If I want to review brain imaging, radiopaedia.org is an excellent reference. Sometimes when I feel I really need to commit concepts to memory, I will write them down more than once to make sure I have truly memorized them. I typically write them down in a notebook or computer paper because studies have shown that handwriting helps to commit things to memory better than typing. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24760141. Sometimes I’ll use colored pens to make it a little more interesting for myself. It doesn’t always have to look nice, but if I know I can write it out from memory, then I really know the information.
- How do you decide what to study?
I generally see what topics continually arise on question banks or old exams. I will make sure I study the high yield topics.
- How do you balance your studying with your other priorities?
I typically set a goal for myself to complete a certain amount of questions each day or read a certain amount each day. For example, I may have a goal to do 25 TrueLearn questions each day or go over 20 pages from a review book. I no longer procrastinate like I used to before medical school, and I try to steadily do a bit of work each day so that it’s not overwhelming. Some days if I have extra time I will study a little more that day to compensate for really busy days with less time.
- What is a study method that you used to do but then realized it doesn’t work for you?
I realized when studying for COMLEX 1 that I do not have an auditory learning style. I wish I had not spent as much time watching videos of lecture topics. I do a lot better taking questions, understanding my areas of weakness, and then studying specific topics.
- What is your #1 tip for efficient and effective studying?
Try not to procrastinate and do a lot of practice questions!