Studying Lessons I Wish I Had Learnt Earlier

Hey everyone,

I just finished my third year of medical school and I’ve realised that so many of my studying mistakes could have been prevented.

Over the last three years I’ve discovered several strategies that would have saved me hours of time, effort and more importantly, my sanity.

Today, I’ll try to share as many of these game-changers with you as possible.

So, let’s discuss:

  • The strategies that you can apply before class that will save you hours of time
  • How you can consolidate learning from class into your long term memory
  • The mindset that changes the way you think about studying

Why studying efficiently starts before you enter class

One of the largest efficiency gains in studying comes from changes you can make before you step into the classroom.

Most content at school and university is delivered through pre-recorded lectures or live classes. While traditional lectures have their place I’d recommend skipping all of the classes and lectures that don’t provide you with value (within reason and following your attendance requirements).


Well, classes and lectures are often the least efficient way of learning a topic possible. Lecturers are often academics or working professionals first, then teachers second.

Lectures and classes are sometimes (often) boring and unengaging. Even when lectures are delivered well, they can go on for much longer than necessary. Live classes hardly engage the students within them.

I admit it, watching university lectures can give you the peace of mind that you’ve studied what can be assessed. However, watching a lecture doesn’t mean that you learn the content.

So, what should you do instead?

This year, I’ve massively benefited by learning content through online resources such as YouTube lectures from Armando Hasdungan and Ninja Nerd, as well as medical database platforms such as BMJ and UpToDate.

These resources provide concise and well-explained content, making complex topics easier to understand. I have control over what I spend time on, and I can use my time on the content I’m weakest at.

Just because your school or university tells you to learn in a certain way, this doesn’t mean that you must follow what they say.

How you can turn your studying into learning

There’s a massive difference between studying something (knowing it briefly) and learning something (having it in your long term memory).

The more I progress in university, I realise how important it is to learn, rather than study.

The single most important factor in converting information from short to long term memory is revision, but a lot of students get this wrong.

Many people think that revision is conducted at the end of the year, before exams, but this couldn’t be more wrong.

With revision, consistency is key, and it’s so important that revision is a consistent process throughout the year. A solid revision schedule is to review the day of class, 3 days after, a week after and a month after.

Even more, the way that you do revision is important. Flashcards & Anki are some of the most popular ways to do revision, but they often fail to cover the necessary relationships in information required to answer questions.

As a result, it’s important that you employ many different forms of revision, such as making your own practice questions, teaching others and making mind maps.

The mindset that changes the way I think about studying…

If there was one thing that I wish someone had beaten into my head at the start of medical school, it would have been this.

For the first two years of medical school, I ignored a lot of the things that I mentioned above, meaning that I studied the content, but remembered next to nothing.

Unfortunately, this meant that this year, I had to spend so much time relearning things that I had already learnt before. Learning something the second time might have been easier, but it still took a significant amount of time that I could have saved.

Adding on to this, learning becomes easier and easier the more you know about something. By learning poorly in first and second year, I’ve realised that I was shooting myself in the foot.

If there’s anything I’ve taken on board this year, it’s that if I’m learning something, I want to learn it once, and learn it well.

If you can do the same, you’ll find that every learning challenge gets easier and easier.

See you next month!


P.S - I’m going to be sending these emails once a month to try and provide you with as much value as I can. If you enjoyed the style of this email (or if you hated it) please let me know by replying back :))

P.P.S - I’m taking on students to workshop their studying and productivity skills. Book a 1-2-1 call with me to get closer to achieving your academic goals!

Welcome to Emil's Emails!

Sign up for my weekly newsletter where I share exclusive productivity tips, useful life advice and insights from my life as a medical student in Australia.

Read more from Welcome to Emil's Emails!

Hi everyone, Happy New Year! I hope that this year has been kind to you, and that 2024 brings happiness and success to you all. For me, the end of the year has always been a time for introspection. I like to reflect on the progress I’ve made and plan ahead for the year to come. The holiday season usually has a nice mix of free time and sentimentality that allows for reflection to flow smoothly. That being said, it’s very easy for us to make well intentioned, actionable plans for the year to...

Hi everyone! A couple of days ago I was sitting at my desk, starting at my calendar and seeing it completely full with commitments that had seemingly piled up out of nowhere. When I’m faced with situations like this, time spent studying is usually the first to disappear from my calendar. Inevitably, I want to compensate for this loss, and I find myself thinking that I need to “try a bit harder” to stay on track. I’m sure that every student has wondered what would happen if they spent more...

Hey everyone, You may have noticed that I haven’t published on my YouTube channel in almost 2 months, and the reason for this is that I’m leaving my channel behind. Before you start uncontrollably weeping and telling your parents, don’t worry - I’m not done with making YouTube videos. In fact, I’ve decided to start a new channel! Now you might be confused - my old channel has just hit 10,000 subscribers (insane!!) and has been going strong for a while, but there are a few reasons for my...