Dental school is challenging in many ways. Hours upon hours are spent in lab learning the technical skills necessary to become a dentist. Just as much time is spent in didactic classes learning the science behind dentistry.
Dental school is challenging in many ways. Hours upon hours are spent in lab learning the technical skills necessary to become a dentist. Just as much time is spent in didactic classes learning the science behind dentistry. While college may provide a good foundation for studying, the 30+ credit hours taken in dental school can be daunting. One of the biggest challenges in dental school is learning how to study the didactic material in a time-efficient manner. Here are tried and true tips for making the perfect study guide to ace your exams.
- Go to class and take good notes. Many professors will emphasize points (be sure to pay attention!) that will be on the test. Others will tell you which slides are not important to know. Beyond that, it’s much easier to write down what the professor is saying as you’re learning it than trying to puzzle over a diagram weeks later. Good attendance also shows your commitment and can be beneficial when any follow-up is necessary beyond the classroom.
- Keep your lecture slides and notes organized. Have a folder for each semester of dental school. Within the semester folder have a folder for each class. Then have a folder for each exam and number the lectures within it. That way you can go back and easily find the lectures you need to review and go through them in chronological order. This is especially key in classes where the lecture material builds on itself from week to week.
- Craft your study guide one lecture at a time. This breaks the information into easier chunks instead of having all of the notes for an exam mingled together. You'll want to stay organized and have all of your notes evenly divided. You don't want to have a hard time trying to find certain notes in crunch time when you're studying for your big instead of exam.
- Start with an outline. If you’re lucky, the professor has given you an outline of the lecture with objectives to learn. Otherwise, review the lecture and form a rough outline to build your study guide from.
- Reorder the lecture. If the professor tends to jump around between topics, order them your own way on your study guide. You don’t have to follow the order of the lecture slides.
- Include all pertinent lecture material. You want this study guide to be your go-to resource for exam studying, so don’t leave off anything important!
- Don’t be afraid to add visuals. If you’re learning about oral surgery instruments make a table with the name of the instrument and the picture next to it.
- Bold or highlight what’s important. The day of the test you can go back and review the high points.
- Trim the fat. Once you’ve put all the material from the slides and your notes on your study guide, you many notice redundant material. Get rid of it! You just need it on your study guide once. Keep in mind, however, if it was presented several times it’s probably important and should be bolded.
Share with your classmates. You’ve just made the perfect study guide—they’ll love you for it!
With so much focus on efficiency and time management, it’s important to remember that not everyone studies in the same way. What makes each student successful can vary greatly, and it’s understanding your own needs as a student that will help you adapt to your learning style to create the perfect study habits.
Forming Good Study Habits
Does your studying require a computer/Wi-Fi connection? Try deciding whether or not you need it, and study in a quiet, comfortable spot accordingly.
Is it in your way? Try for a few healthy snack options, but don’t have your study space overrun by food.
Keep your music at a low level and without distraction. While music can be a good companion, don’t let it overwhelm you.