7 Study Tips for Pharmacy Students

MAY 25, 2016
Learning how to effectively study in pharmacy school is one of the biggest challenges students initially face.
Although there’s no secret to being the best student, good study habits are essential for success.
With finals just completed, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the previous academic year and assess what worked and what didn’t.
Here are my 7 most important studying tips for pharmacy students, regardless of where you are in the program.
1. Take Good Notes
Taking quality notes during class is one of the most important things you need to do in order to be successful in pharmacy school. Since there are multiple note-taking systems, it’s important to figure out what works best for you. Examples include the Cornell, Outline, Mapping, Charting, and Sentence Methods.
Although one system isn’t necessarily superior to others, experts generally agree on the importance of staying organized and engaging in “active” note-taking, like writing notes in your own words, looking for answers to questions, and making connections in the course material. Studies suggest you’re more likely to remember and understand information during active learning.
For me, taking notes meant bringing my laptop to most classes and using an outline format. In other classes, including chemistry courses, I found it easier to handwrite notes and then compare them with a friend’s after class.
2. Stay Organized
Staying organized is crucial to being as efficient as possible with your limited amount of free time. With the constant influx of projects, assignments, labs, and exams, it’s easy to fall behind and forget when things are due.
Keep a detailed calendar with all of your upcoming exams and assignments, along with any extracurricular commitments. You can then start blocking off time on a daily basis to gradually start studying or complete necessary work. This will help you effectively manage your time and create a studying routine.
For in-class notes, consider using a separate binder or folder for each class, or if you take notes on your computer, create separate folders for all classes.
One of my roommates in pharmacy school kept a sticky note on his desk with a running list of all assignments and exams, so he could appropriately manage his time. Another friend kept a detailed daily planner to organize all aspects of her life.

Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD, is a Clinical Pharmacist working at a large health insurance plan on the east coast. Additionally he works per diem at a retail pharmacy chain. He graduated from MCPHS University - Boston in 2015 and subsequently completed a PGY-1 Managed Care Pharmacy Residency. His professional interests include pharmacy legislation and managed care pharmacy. He can be followed on Twitter at @toshea125.