Shelf Exam

7 Effective Strategies On How To Take Notes In Medical School

Looking at how to take notes in medical school? Check out these 7 proven strategies to help you succeed in your studies.

Jun 18, 2024

Shelf Exam

7 Effective Strategies On How To Take Notes In Medical School

Looking at how to take notes in medical school? Check out these 7 proven strategies to help you succeed in your studies.

Jun 18, 2024

Shelf Exam

7 Effective Strategies On How To Take Notes In Medical School

Looking at how to take notes in medical school? Check out these 7 proven strategies to help you succeed in your studies.

Jun 18, 2024

person studying for school - How To Take Notes In Medical School
person studying for school - How To Take Notes In Medical School
person studying for school - How To Take Notes In Medical School

Are you finding that your notes are as scattered as your thoughts after a long shift? How long are shelf exams? Learning to take notes during your medical school journey can feel like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube with oven mitts. This blog post will provide valuable insights on note-taking strategies to help you ace your classes and ensure you're well-prepared when it comes time to take your Shelf Exams.

Looking for ways to refine your note-taking skills? Let Otio, your AI research and writing partner, help you unlock your true potential and find the most effective strategies for taking notes efficiently in medical school.

Table of Contents

Basics Of Note-Taking

man making notes - How To Take Notes In Medical School

Taking notes shouldn’t be about copying down every word from your professor’s mouth. In a lecture or while reading, jotting down notes will help you to understand and remember the material.

So, note-taking is really about two things:
1. It helps you to remember the facts and understand the information you’re hearing or reading.
2. It gives you a reference to review and revise later.

When you take notes in Med School, it’s all about getting the hard work out of the way to make revision easier down the line. 

Practice Function 

  • When you're in a lecture and taking notes, you’re not just a stenographer, writing everything down without listening. 

  • Taking notes is a tool for helping you understand and remember the information you’re recording.

  • That’s the practice function of note-taking. It’s a bit like how writing something down helps you to remember it, even if you never look at it again. 

Product Function 

The product function of note-taking is where the real benefit comes from. This is about using your notes to help you revise later on. The more concise, clear, and well-organized your notes are, the easier it will be to remember the information and commit it to memory. Taking notes isn’t just about saving yourself time later—it’s also about helping you understand and remember the information. 

Using Your Notes to Study 

When it comes time to revise, your notes are a wealth of information to help you prepare for exams. You need to make sure your notes are in a form that’s easy to revise. That’s why it’s a good idea to take some time after your lecture to review your notes, maybe rewrite them to make them a bit clearer, or add anything you think you might have missed.

Then, when it comes time to revise, you’ll have a concise collection of notes that will help you to remember everything you need to. Taking notes in Med School is like planting seeds in the spring. It’s hard work now, but come the summer, you’ll be glad you made the effort. Now go and put your notebook to good use!

Related Reading

Surgery Shelf Exam
How To Study For Shelf Exams
Best Anatomy Books
Family Medicine Shelf
How To Study For Family Medicine Shelf
Internal Medicine Shelf Exam
Shelf Exam Length
Psychiatry Shelf Exam
Best Neuroscience Textbooks
Neurology Shelf Exam

Notepad Vs Laptop/Tablet

man holding a tablet - How To Take Notes In Medical School

Taking notes is crucial to learning, especially in the medical field. The first thing to consider when deciding whether to use a notepad or laptop/tablet for note-taking is its impact on your ability to organize and access your notes. When using a notepad, you lose the convenience of storing your notes digitally and searchable. On the other hand, writing notes by hand allows for more active information processing than typing notes on a laptop. 

Handwritten vs. Laptop Notetaking

Mueller and Oppenheimer's study in 2014 found that typing notes on a laptop often results in transcribing lectures verbatim, which may hinder deeper information processing. While handwritten notes can facilitate conceptual testing, there is no significant difference in factual testing between the two methods. 

Improved Recall for Laptop Users

Dung and colleagues' study in 2012 revealed that participants who used a computer to transcribe lectures performed better on delayed recall tests when allowed to study their notes. Fiorella and Mayer's study in 2017 also showed that laptop note-takers performed better on factual information recall when allowed to review their notes, suggesting that typing notes may lead to better information retention. 

Choosing Your Method

Your note-taking approach should be based on factors such as your note-taking speed, the pace of your lectures, and whether your classes are in person or virtual. If you type faster than you write, typing notes may be more effective, while handwriting notes may benefit those who process information better through writing. Your choice may also depend on your instructor’s teaching style and the content of the course.

The choice between using a notepad or laptop/tablet for note-taking should be based on your learning preferences and the specific course requirements. Keep in mind that what works best for one person may not work well for another. 

Content Overload Crisis: Otio's AI Solution for Researchers and Knowledge

Today, knowledge workers, researchers, and students suffer from content overload and are left to deal with it using fragmented, complex, and manual tooling. Too many settle for stitching together complicated bookmarking, read-it-later, and note-taking apps to get through their workflows. Now that anyone can create content with a button, this problem will only worsen. 

Otio solves this problem by providing researchers with one AI-native workspace. It helps them

1. Collect

A wide range of data sources, from bookmarks, tweets, and extensive books to YouTube videos. 

2. Extract key takeaways

With detailed AI-generated notes and source-grounded Q&A chat

3. Create

Draft outputs using the sources you've collected

Otio helps you go from reading list to first draft faster. Along with this, Otio also helps you write research papers/essays faster. Here are our top features loved by researchers: AI-generated notes on all bookmarks (Youtube videos, PDFs, articles, etc.), Otio enables you to chat with individual links or entire knowledge bases, just like you chat with ChatGPT, as well as AI-assisted writing. 

Let Otio be your AI research and writing partner — try Otio for free today!

Related Reading

Best Cardiology Books
Emergency Medicine Shelf Exam
Best Microbiology Textbook
Best Neurology Books
Emergency Medicine Shelf
Best Immunology Textbook
Medical Student Motivation
Pediatric Shelf Exam
Medical School Burnout
Obgyn Shelf
Practice Shelf Exams
Neuro Shelf Exam
Anatomy Book
Medical Microbiology
Shelf Exam
Anatomy Books
Book Anatomy
Shelf Exams Medical School
Family Medicine Shelf Exam
Divine Intervention Family Medicine
Human Anatomy and Physiology Book
Medical Microbiologist
Best Anatomy and Physiology Book

7 Effective Note-Taking Methods For Medical Students

woman making good notes - How To Take Notes In Medical School

1. The Cornell Method 

When it comes to taking notes in med school, one of the most effective strategies is The Cornell Method. This approach involves dividing a sheet of paper into three sections - a note section, a key points or questions section, and a summarizing section. First, you take notes on the topic in the note section, then jot down key points or questions in the key points section, and finally summarize the notes in the summarizing section. 

This method is excellent for organizing your notes and making it easier to review them later. This method is best used when putting together notes early in Step 1 prep, such as learning pathology and pathophysiology during preclinical classes. When studying a complex topic like the cardiovascular system, you can divide your paper into sections for the anatomy of the heart and blood vessels, physiology of the cardiovascular system, and mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases and treatments.

2. Mind Maps 

Another effective note-taking strategy for med students is creating mind maps. This visual method involves creating a diagram to connect different pieces of information. This approach is particularly useful for visual learners who need to see connections between different concepts. 

For instance, when studying microbiology, creating a mind map of different bacterial species and their characteristics can help you visualize and understand the relationships between the species, their morphology, virulence factors, and associated diseases. By mapping these connections visually, you can better retain the information and see the bigger picture of the topic you are studying.

3. Outlining Method 

The outlining method is another great tactic for taking notes effectively. This strategy involves logically structuring information using bullet points and headings. Organizing your notes this way makes searching for information easier, connecting related ideas, and summarizing complex topics concisely. The outlining method works best for students in “slow” and “medium-speed” lectures, allowing you to break down complex information into more digestible pieces.

4. The Charting Method 

The charting method is a note-taking approach that involves creating a table to organize information. This method is especially useful for organizing information that has clear categories or comparisons. Creating a chart can help you visualize the relationships between elements when studying topics with clear distinctions or comparisons. Plus, many Qbanks have charts or tables as part of their answer explanations, so using this method can help you better understand and organize the information presented.

5. Never copy verbatim 

Avoiding copying verbatim from textbooks is a common mistake many medical students make when taking notes. Copying text doesn’t engage the brain, making it difficult to understand and retain the material. Instead, try to rephrase the information in your own words to make your notes concise and engage more actively with the content. By avoiding copying text directly from the source, you can train your brain for active learning and improve material retention.

6. The Sentence Method 

The sentence method is a simple note-taking strategy that involves writing notes in complete sentences. This approach is useful for capturing important details and especially helpful for students who prefer writing in full sentences. 

Keeping the sentences simple and using your own words can improve your understanding and retention of the material. The sentence method is a straightforward way to ensure you capture essential information and can be a helpful tool in your study arsenal.

7. Highlight text in different colors 

Color coding your notes is another effective strategy for improving note-taking and learning. Highlighting passages in different colors helps you differentiate content sections and makes it easier to find specific information. Color coding has been shown to improve memory by increasing attention and arousal, making it easier to group similar topics and ideas together. Using different colors to highlight different sections of your notes, you can create a clear system for organizing your information and improving memory retention.

4 Best Practices For Taking Notes On Laptop/Tablet

woman learning How To Take Notes In Medical School

1. Eliminate Distractions

Removing all distractions from a laptop or tablet is crucial when taking notes in class. Airplane mode can help focus during lectures.

2. Avoid Transcribing

When taking notes, it's best to avoid verbatim transcribing. Prioritize understanding the information and putting it into your own words.

3. Take Advantage of Images and Figures

Incorporating relevant images and figures into notes is essential for better comprehension. Tablets can be used to insert photos and screenshots easily.

4. Use a Tablet

Tablet devices offer a blend of convenience and functionality. They allow for typing digital notes and drawing to create a better note-taking experience.

Best Note-Taking Apps For Enhanced Note-Taking Experience

man learning tricks - How To Take Notes In Medical School

Otio: Your AI Research and Writing Partner

Today, knowledge workers, researchers, and students suffer from content overload and are left to deal with it using fragmented, complex, and manual tooling. Too many settle for stitching together complicated bookmarking, read-it-later, and note-taking apps to get through their workflows. Now that anyone can create content with a button, this problem will only worsen. 

Otio solves this problem by providing researchers with one AI-native workspace. It helps them

1. Collect

A wide range of data sources, from bookmarks, tweets, and extensive books to YouTube videos. 

2. Extract key takeaways

With detailed AI-generated notes and source-grounded Q&A chat

3. Create

Draft outputs using the sources you've collected

Otio helps you go from the reading list to the first draft faster. Along with this, Otio also helps you write research papers/essays faster. Here are our top features loved by researchers: AI-generated notes on all bookmarks (Youtube videos, PDFs, articles, etc.), Otio enables you to chat with individual links or entire knowledge bases, just like you chat with ChatGPT, as well as AI-assisted writing. 

Let Otio be your AI research and writing partner — try Otio for free today!

Microsoft OneNote: Clipping, Collaboration, and Collaboration

OneNote is one of the most popular note-taking apps available. It is packed with meaty features such as the ability to clip webpages and extract text from images. OneNote can be used on unlimited devices, allowing for easy collaboration. The app also works well with other Microsoft 365 apps. Most importantly, the app is completely free - no premium version exists. Unfortunately, the app allows little opportunity to organize or tag notes.

Evernote: Organized and Tagged

Evernote is a popular note-taking app available on almost any device. It can take and organize multiple file types, including PDF and PowerPoint files, and clip websites. Notes can be tagged and searched easily; however, there is less hierarchy—notes are organized into notebooks, and there is no ability to create nested notebooks. Importantly, the free version is relatively feature-limited (you will use your 60MB quickly), and the premium version is expensive.

Google Keep: Colourful, Simple, and Intuitive

Google Keep is essentially a way of storing digital Post-it notes. This app is incredibly easy to get started with and use, and can be used across devices. Google Keep has some features, such as the ability to color notes and extract text from images, but it is text-only and there is no ability to organize or tag notes.

Notion: Feature-Packed and Flexible

Notion is an absolutely feature-packed and flexible app that can do much more than notes. It is database-driven, meaning that pages work together and reference each other. As a result, the app is extremely flexible and customizable. Many templates can be used to get started. Notion allows for a clear, nested hierarchy, which allows you to organize information in any way you can imagine. The app also allows you to share pages and collaborate with others. 

The benefit of the app can also be a downside - the number of features can be overwhelming, and there is a learning curve to getting started. The way that pages are formatted (in blocks) can be difficult to use when writing large amounts of information. Currently, the app requires an internet connection. There is a free personal version, with a relatively expensive premium version.

Apple Notes: Simple, Functional, and Device-Synced

The Apple Notes app is a simple option for notes with many features. Notes can be formatted with headers, dot points, images, drawings, and checklists. They can also be organized into nested folders but not tagged. 

Information can be easily synced between iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices and shared with others to allow collaboration. Although some formatting can be done, no advanced features like clipping web pages exist. Notes ship for free with Apple devices and are unavailable on Windows or Android.

Related Reading

Med School Study Schedule
Med School Studying
When Do You Take Shelf Exams
Best Resources For Shelf Exams
How To Study For Emergency Medicine Shelf
Medical Student Stress
Med School Study Tools
Best Resources For Medical Students
End Of Rotation Exams
Neurology Textbook
Microbiology Books

Supercharge Your Researching Ability With Otio — Try Otio for Free Today

Otio is an innovative tool revolutionizing how researchers, knowledge workers, and students manage content overload. In today's information-rich environment, Otio is a lifesaver by providing an AI-native workspace that streamlines the workflow for those constantly inundated with information. Let's break down the key features that make Otio a game-changer in research and writing. 

Automated Data Collection

Otio allows you to collect data from various sources, including bookmarks, tweets, books, and YouTube videos. The platform simplifies the process by centralizing all your sources in one place, eliminating the need to juggle multiple tools to keep track of your research material.

AI-Generated Notes and Q&A Chat

By leveraging artificial intelligence, Otio pulls out the most crucial takeaways from your resources and generates detailed notes you can easily access. The platform provides a Q&A chat function that is grounded in the sources you've saved. This feature lets you engage with your content conversationally, enhancing your understanding and retention.

Efficient Draft Creation

Otio streamlines the process of transforming your reading list into a polished draft. By amalgamating all your collected sources, the platform facilitates faster writing, allowing you to swiftly jump from research to the first draft.

AI-Assisted Writing

One of Otio's standout features is its AI-assisted writing capabilities. The platform is your writing partner, offering valuable support through AI-powered writing tools. Whether you're working on research papers, essays, or other written content, Otio enhances your writing process with advanced assistance.

Experience Otio Today

Are you ready to take your research and writing to the next level? Otio's user-friendly interface and robust features make it the ideal AI research and writing partner for anyone looking to streamline their workflow and boost productivity. 

Try Otio for free today and experience the difference it can make in your academic or professional pursuits.

Join over 50,000 researchers changing the way they read & write

Join over 50,000 researchers changing the way they read & write

Join thousands of other scholars and researchers