Effective Studying Habits for Success in Pharmacy School

Using visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning styles can help create more effective study habits.

Many students have been in the same position as I have. You spend hours reading over the content you need to study, but you still can’t seem to retain any of it. It can be even worse when the grade you receive for the exam is lower than you expected compared to all of the effort put into studying.

I received a B-minus on the first exam during my first year of pharmacy school. Even though I was excited that I had passed, I felt that I was doing something wrong. This was the motivating factor for me to change my study habits and to find more effective, efficient ways to prepare for my exams.

Figuring out your personal learning style is the first step in effective study habits. People are usually categorized into visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. Although some are dominant in 1 of the 3 learning styles, I discovered that I learn effectively by using all 3. After clarifying this part of my studying habits, I was able to use the proper techniques that would improve the quality and rate of my learning.

In terms of time management for studying, I found that setting weekly study schedules and beginning each study session by perusing the objectives has worked for me. Objectives are meant to guide you and serve as a framework to what the lecturers intended for you to learn upon completing the topic.

Recognizing when extra help is needed is also important, which can be addressed by creating group study sessions. Having a supportive set of friends is beneficial to clear up any doubts I may have had on any of the topics we have learned in class. However, you must be able to know how to use these groups effectively because it can have the same probability of wasting your time when done incorrectly.

Contrary to popular belief, I learned firsthand that reading is not truly studying and properly retaining information. Writing down the information as I go along or reiterating it audibly in my own words has been much more valuable.

There are many smart phone applications that exist, such as Notability or GoodNotes 5, that can help assist students in practicing active learning. For example, Notability allows me to make modifications to the existing lecture notes, highlight important terms, and write explanations to nebulous terms or phrases.

Last, but not least, keeping up with healthy sleep habits and carving time out to rest are important. Whenever I stay up late to cram more information, it always results in headaches. A well-rested brain is better able to consolidate memory.

When it feels like time is not on my side, I try to remain calm and focus on the time that I have left rather than the time that has elapsed. Getting anxious only makes it difficult for you to retain information. Use your time wisely; you got this!