****Recently, I was asked to write content for BoardVitals.com, an amazing test-prep resource for any medical specialty. I will definitely be looking to them for PANCE prep! To check out their condensed version of this article, go here! Otherwise, I’ve provided the full article below. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out BoardVitals!
Couture In Clinic x BoardVitals: 3 Stacked Study Tips
First and foremost, I completely acknowledge the fact that extrinsic motivators to study (like a grade) do not positively correlate with the quality of healthcare a student will go on to provide. In fact, there is no evidence that providers who graduated at the top of their class in schools that used letter grades are any more ‘good at their jobs’ than their counterparts whose schools used the pass/fail system. (I’m all about evidence-based medicine, y’all!)
With that being said, while it is true that “grades aren’t everything,” exams are an inevitable part of a professional program and let’s be real… it feels SO good to get that A! Also, after all of your hard work in school, the only thing standing between you and your license is one big ol’ test! For these reasons, I’ve listed three more of the most useful study tips I know to ace an exam in PA school (and also help you prepare for the PANCE along the way).
While this seems obvious, I cannot stress the importance of making sure that all of your mental energy is focused on your studies. For me, this means leaving my apartment (where my dogs and refrigerator are) and going somewhere quiet and spacious. Have snacks and a water bottle on hand to stay hydrated and keep your growling stomach from leading you away from the library and to Taco Bell instead. Lastly, stay off social media during designated study times! I use apps like Self-Control (for Mac OS) and StayFocusd (for Google Chrome) which allow you to block certain websites (ahem.. Pinterest) for designated amounts of time. Make it easy on yourself!
Make Social Media Work For You
If you can’t bring yourself to totally blacklist your favorite social media sites, be sure to follow pages and resources that will give you good example test questions, study strategies, and cartoons and mnemonics to help you remember classic board and exam question material. I really love @PhysicianAssistantBoards on Facebook and @medcomic and @pance_prep_pearls on Instagram. Pinterest is also really helpful for synthesizing information into groups based on class or body system. I have boards for anatomy, surgical disease, and especially pharmacology!
Utilize Your “Empty Time”
All PA school students have heard the expression “PA school is like drinking from a fire hydrant.” I believe all PA students will also agree with that statement! Sometimes you will have 3-5 exams per week, some months require being in the operating room at 6 AM with class in the evenings. It’s easy to become burned out and prioritizing downtime for yourself is a must. I like to sneak mini study sessions in my “empty” time (when I’m commuting to school, cooking dinner, showering, etc.) and listen to recorded lectures. This way, when I have true “downtime,” I can enjoy Netflix or a dinner date without that nagging feeling of “I should be studying.” (I can’t be the only one who feels that way, right!?) If your classes aren’t already recorded, be sure to record each class and relisten to the material at least once. You will inevitably miss something the first time and hearing things multiple times will help them stick in your head come test time! Also, changing up where you study has been shown to help increase retention. I find myself thinking, “Oh, I remember hearing that when I was at Dunkin Donuts… for the third iced coffee of the day…”
If you liked these tips and want more study strategies, check out my “Top 4 Study Tips for Every Learning Style.” Best of luck as you tackle your exams! Don’t forget, you’re unstopPAble!
With love and light,