Study Tips for First Year

Be flexible

Be willing to experiment with different learning styles until you find the one that works best for you. Some people like to make outlines or flashcards, and different styles may be more applicable for different blocks or topics. Some people like to study in groups all the time, while some like to study alone. The beginning of the year is a time for you to experiment with different styles; for instance, don’t be afraid to try group studying even if it’s something that’s never worked for you before.

At the same time, everyone has a unique style of studying. If you find a way that works well for you, don’t try to change the way you learn even if someone tells you that his or her way is more effective. When you find a study style that works, stick to it, and remember that other people have other styles. For example, different people need to spend different amounts of time studying. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your classmates for help.

Don’t worry about how much your classmates seem to know or how much your classmates seem to/ say they study. Just focus on how well you understand the material.

Pick your sources

“Pre-reading” means looking over notes before class, so that the material is more familiar to you when it’s being explained. For some students, pre-reading can be more efficient than doing all of your studying after class. In a curriculum that is not as heavily lecture-based as traditional curricula, it becomes even more important to come to class prepared and being at least somewhat familiar with the material. Sometimes a quick glance over a set of notes before class may make all the difference in your understanding. Make sure that you are prepared before each session.

In anatomy, pre-reading for laboratory dissections is especially helpful.


1. Try group study in different settings – maybe group study doesn’t work for you in a classroom, but it might work in the anatomy lab or in the histo lab.

2. Try group study with different groups of people. Don’t be afraid to ask people that you don’t know that well if they would like to try studying with you.

3. Make sure your group study sessions are focused and organized – be prepared to review a ton of material.

4. Try focusing each group study session on only one topic – for example, review the past week’s histo/physio/anatomy only, rather than trying to cover everything.

Dr. Pettepher will tell you that group study is the key to success. Group study can be extremely helpful. But if it doesn’t work for you at first or doesn’t work for you at all, that is ok! Just remember that different things work for different people.

Group study can be especially helpful in the anatomy lab. Find a few friends to go to anatomy lab with and review structures. The anatomy lab is open 24/7!


ANCHOR is an online study resource that was created for the old curriculum. As such, it may be difficult for you to navigate in a way that is useful to your current courses. But you should still check it out in case you find material that is helpful: Click here.

Anatomy and Physiology-specific advice

Again, take our advice with caution, since the VMS II’s curriculum was quite a bit different.


· ONE anatomy atlas is sufficient, and there are many to choose from (i.e. Netter, Grants, Rohen, Clemente)

· Grant’s dissector: Good for pre-reading before dissection

Others to consider:

· Anatomy: Clinically Oriented Anatomy, an atlas with lots more textual description is popular. Essential Clinical Anatomy is the condensed version that some people prefer.

· Anatomy: Rohen’s Atlas includes pictures of cadaver dissections. Many students find Rohen’s helpful. It is probably best used either in combination with Grant’s/Netter’s or as review right before the practical.

· Histology: Ross and Pawlina, Wheater’s, or Junqueira and Carneiro (my personal recommendation is Wheater’s. I did not think Ross had enough pictures.)

· Embryology: Langman’s, Netter’s

· Physiology: Guyton’s (very dense, covers much more detail than you will learn), Board Review Series (includes helpful multiple choice practice questions that you can use before the exams).

· Weir and Abrams Imaging Atlas, which is also on the computers in the anatomy lab.

· Ackland videos are great for learning anatomy, especially for visual learners, and the DVDs are available at the library.

· Various online websites (but make sure they are legitimate sources).

Anatomy tips

· Pre-read for lab dissections

· Watch ACKLAND anatomy dissection videos for a great review. You can check them out at Eskind Library or they are on the shared computer lab drive

· Read over your notes often; it takes 2-3 times to really digest the information

· Some people prefer studying from power-points, others preferred studying from lecture notes; it’s your call, but know that information in any of them is fair game for testing

· Highlighters are helpful to color-code notes

· The pace is fast, so try to review that day’s lectures or material that day, or else it is easy to get behind

· Use the fourth floor white boards for group study – but remember to erase if you wrote borderline inappropriate acronyms

· Netter flashcards are great for utilizing down time (such as between classes, waiting in line)

· Make your own power-points to quiz yourself

· Go to histo lab to review with your buddies; pay attention in lab and it will make studying go quicker later

· Use Mediasite, especially if you have a tendency to fall asleep in lecture; you can play it up to 2x speed!