10 Ways to Excel in Medical School

It doesn’t matter whether you’re just preparing for medical school or are currently going through premed classes: You’ve worked too hard to fail. You need to develop a plan to succeed.

We’ve spoken with real med school students to discover some of their best tips and tricks to get ahead of the curve. While the following advice requires practice, as a future medical professional, you’ve got the determination to tackle anything that’s set out in front of you!


1. Get Into a Study Routine

High school and your undergraduate degree might not have presented serious academic challenges, but medical degrees make everyone sweat. To find the best study groove, set aside short periods of time (rather than long study sessions) at the same time each day. This way, your studying will become more of a habit and less of a chore.

Because the medical world is booming with basic information and facts, always make sure that each session has a specific goal (e.g. memorize 20 new anatomy terms). This will help you avoid running yourself ragged.

The hardest part, however, is staying on task. Turn off your phone, log out of social media, and really focus on these new concepts.

2. Discover Your Own Style of Learning

Behavioralists and education experts have discovered that there are four main types of learning styles: visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic (otherwise referred to as VARK). Each person has their own style that works best for them, and the sooner you discover how to apply it to your education, the better!

Visual learners respond best to images (e.g. flashcards, maps, highlights) to commit medical terms to memory. You might see an aural learner recording a professor’s lecture so they can listen to it at home. Someone who learns best when they read and write could benefit from copying lists of medical terminologies. For kinesthetic learners, dissection materials and 3D models are the most helpful.

Whichever type of learning style you need, craft your study time around it!

3. Volunteer for Practical Experience

Med school is the time where you decide the direction your career will take you. If you’re thinking of working in pediatrics, consider volunteering at a children’s charity. Believe that your future lies in geriatric care? Spend a few hours at nursing homes each week. Who knows? After you graduate, the connections you’ve made in the community could lead to a great residency offer!

4. Get Your Head Out of a Book

While much of your academic career will revolve around bookwork, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from other sources. Videos and medical studies are constantly being developed, and who knows? You might discover a new branch of medicine or concept you’ve never considered before!

5. Find a Mentor

Does your medical school have a formal mentoring program? Are there any senior students you get along with? Have you met a certain medical professional that you admire? These people can explain tough concepts, share interesting anecdotes, or even just provide important advice when you really need it. After graduating, you might be lucky enough to snag a letter of recommendation from one of them!

6. Avoid Cramming

While there are plenty of reasons for why a person falls behind during a semester, we recommend staying on top of things as much as you can. Med school is all about building upon interconnected relationships. If you forget most of the information you “crammed” into your brain the night before a final, you’re probably going to fall behind over the course of your academic career.

7. Take a Break if You Need It

If your tests happen to fall on the same days, take some time off afterward. There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed after a white-knuckle midterm. Medical students in Aruba often go on brief trips to the beach – or even hop to other islands – to unwind after a particularly stressful periods of time.
8. Don’t Feel Guilty About Say “No” to Study Groups
One of the hardest parts of being a university student is group work. There are always people who put in the least amount of effort possible, and everyone is at different levels of understanding.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t “work well with others”: You’re going through medical school, not winning a popularity contest!

9. Learn from Your Mistakes

Unless you happen to be the best student your medical school has ever known, you’re going to run into obstacles. That can be extremely difficult if you’ve always been at the top of your class. Focus on your weakness, rather than dwelling on them.

10. Keep Your Notes and Exams

Professors rarely come up with entirely new syllabi each semester. If older students have held onto their old quizzes, ask to review them so you’ll have a better idea of what will appear on future exams. This will help you consolidate your studying efforts!

Study Medicine in Aruba!

If you were waitlisted for medical school in the United States, consider applying to the American University School of Medicine Aruba (AUSOMA). With small class sizes, state-of-the-art learning, and affordable courses, there’s no reason not to think about heading to a top Caribbean medical school!