Human Anatomy Study Tips
After speaking with numerous students who were successful in Anat-A 215, we have assembled the following study tips. This advice comes from your peers, so take it to heart! Bottom line: students who follow these suggestions tend to earn high Bs and As; those who don't follow this advice tend to earn Cs and lower.
- Invest 10 - 12 hours each and every week studying anatomy outside of class, including week 1 and including the weeks after breaks – no exceptions. (While it's important to have down time, don't expect that your weekends will be free from studying.) If you take anatomy over the summer you will, of course, need to invest more time outside of class accordingly, given that summer courses are taught at a more accelerated pace, over a shorter amount of time.
- If you need further testimony as to the importance of consistent studying, read what one student told us: "I had been studying anatomy for 11 or 12 hours every week, but the week after Spring break I dropped it to 4 or 5 hours. That one week where I dropped below 12 hours is the reason I earned a B+ instead of an A-."
- Attend EVERY lab or lecture unless you are truly too sick or too contagious to attend.
- Attend every open lab time unless it conflicts with other classes or crucial obligations.
- Attend lab review sessions prior to exams, and take the practice lab exam.
- Find a study partner or form a study group comprised of students who are seriously devoted to the class.
- Flashcards are a great help to most students.
- Study out loud. Students have told us that doing so is more helpful than studying "in your head," because hearing the material helps you understand it and commit it to memory.
- Use the learning exercises and other resources on the Anat-A 215 course website.
- Review the lecture notes posted on the A215 website before the class in which the material will be covered.
- Review your own notes as soon after class as you can. Some students find it helpful to re-write or re-type their anatomy notes; repeating your review of the material in different ways is an important study tactic.
- A215 is largely memorization, both visual (cadavers, 3D models, illustrations) and definitions. However, there is also a critical thinking component (e.g., being able to identify a part of the anatomy based upon clues: Example: "A patient cannot move his eyes laterally. Which muscle groups are being effected by his injury?")
- A215 faculty instructors are happy to meet with you, and lab teaching assistants (TAs) are well-trained. Utilize these resources! And don't necessarily "wait to see how I do on the exam" before talking with instructors and TAs. The key is be prepared before the exam.
- Cramming prior to an exam can be a useful study technique, but only if it has been preceded by the consistent studying the rest of these tips reflect.
- Exams are not cumulative, but are nonetheless extremely rigorous. (Many students find the second exam to be the most challenging one.)
- If you adopt our time and stress management suggestions, you are almost guaranteed to become a less stressed, better-organized, higher achieving (more competitive!) student.
Leonardo da Vinci, selected anatomical drawings (c. 15th - 16th century)