Tips for studying with memory techniques

Tips for studying with memory techniques

When I was in school, no one ever gave me, and this is really absurd, advice for studying. For this reason I gladly publish the exchange of emails between Daniele, a veterinary student who follows the blog, and me. It seems useful to me because I believe that, regardless of the course of study that each one follows (and also for those who no longer study), Daniel's questions are essentially the same as those of many other readers, and of all those who practice memory techniques.

Good evening,
I am a student of Veterinary Medicine now close to the end of the exams and, since, as I have been able to read, you too are a doctor, you can imagine the effort that will require preparing the clinics (of different animals and with different dosages and posologies for the various drugs not that series of differential diagnoses and related surgical therapies). I bought his book "Quick memorization techniques", very interesting indeed, I just have to find the time to concentrate on the chapters from the "phonetic conversion" onwards, which are the ones I found difficulties in as they require more preparation time. Having said this, I wanted to ask you, regarding my specific address, what could be your next text to buy more congenial to me, and what are your advice for studying better.
Thank you very much for your attention,
Best regards.

Here are my tips for studying with memory techniques

The examples are of medicine, but they can easily be applied and translated to any course of study.From a text point of view, on Amazon you can find a couple of small manuals that I have put up to show the memorization techniques “in action”.

One follows you step by step in memorizing a 52-card deck, while the other engages with the Old Testament Titles. The latter may perhaps be more useful to you, because many titles are "abstract", a bit like the names of drugs. However, before taking them, I suggest you read the blog post on Memory Techniques and Study Methods, in which, on the inspiration of another reader, I clarify the relationship between memorization and study in general.

Basically the gist is that you memorize it is used to study, but it is not to study. And that the techniques must be handled in a certain way to be truly effective even in the study. In the coming months I will publish a course on speed reading and the study method, so if you follow the blog you will surely have news.

On memory techniques in general, I would like to make a clarification through an example:

When I first took a patient's blood pressure, I made a terrible mess. I was embarrassed to put the sphygmomanometer, and the stethoscope I put it with the inclination of the so that go in the ears in reverse. I was 21 and very excited, so it took me minutes to do something as simple as taking blood pressure; yet I knew everything about both cardiac physiology and the functioning of measuring instruments. Why then did I make a mess?

Because knowing does not mean knowing how to do. And the same goes for mnemonics.

So, here it is the first and most important of the tips for studying:

Give up theory and practice memory techniques in the study

In fact, my manual is more than sufficient from a theoretical point of view. But only the exercise will allow you to adapt the techniques to your needs. So don't spend too much money on other books (and least of all on an expensive 2-day live course) before trying to use them for at least a few hours. Then eventually go back to the books to refine them a bit. And here on the blog you will often find great examples.

In the meantime, I'll give you some more specific tips for studying with memory techniques that apply well to your course of study, so similar to mine:

La phonetic conversion it is important for dosages, so it is worth studying it well. But be careful! The problems you will have them on the units of measure: 12 grams and 12 micrograms are something very different. Over time you will develop a "feeling" for units that will never get you wrong, and you won't even need the techniques anymore.

At the beginning, however, it is very useful to assign to each unit of measurement an image that represents it: for example for i grams the sand of the sea, for the micrograms cartoon miniatures, for i milliliters a shot of tequila, for i decilitri a mug of beer ... and so on.
You will then have images for the dosages consisting of three elements, in order of importance: the first identifies the drug, The second one the unit of measurement, the third la amount.
So for example if you have to visualize 0,5 g of amoxicillin you will have: image for amoxicillin (hook + bone or whatever you want), image of grams (sea sand), image of 0,5 (ZuLù, or 05. Not. confuse with 5 because 5 would have only had the L).

As always, it looks complicated until one does! If you have to remember only "amoxicillin 0,5 g" it is more linear to remember it in the traditional way, but if you have to remember well and forever many drugs and many dosages you will see that with the techniques you will have exceptional results.

By the route of administration

Normally it is quite obvious, that is, you deduce it from the type of drug and dosage, without even having to remember it. However in some cases it may be useful to add a last image to clarify it (and you will have for example Mouth, Vein, Rectum, Subclavian and so on, for all the various types)

For formulas

I think you will often have to calculate the dosages based on the weight of the animal, which (almost) never happens in human medicine, except in pediatrics. It is therefore worthwhile to memorize them with the techniques

For internal medicine

Clinical diagnostic reasoning lends itself very well to memory techniques, being by nature very structured, also through easily available guidelines and logical flow charts. Build your own typical mental map (e.g. anamnesis, symptoms, signs, laboratory tests, instrumental tests), which you will then fill in each time with the relevant information (to be remembered with memory techniques). Of course, I would limit myself to only storing the abnormal values, not the entire blood count for every single case you analyze.

For surgery

Remembering a surgical technique in words is a waste of time. Images work much better, and you can read the reason in the post “Remembering through images”. To learn the surgical techniques, watch their videos on youtube (there are several), then close your eyes and do them again in your mind, as if you were in the cinema. Many great surgeons do so you know? They visualize the movements of the operations even from the armchair of their home.


He uses acronyms a lot, and remembers various data by putting them in homogeneous groups. Regarding the first point, since it is material that you know well, it is not necessary to use mnemonics on every word. For example, if you want to remember the enzymatic markers of acute pancreatitis, you will use the word TELA (linking it to the image of the inflamed pancreas) to remember trypsin, elastase, lipase, amylase, and not a series of mnemonic words to remember each of them individually (I assume in fact that the name of each enzyme is already familiar to you).

Regarding the second point (homogeneity of the group), it makes no sense, for example, to put non-specific markers of inflammation such as CRP, ESR and fibrinogen, which arise in pancreatitis, together with the enzymatic markers of the same; and the same applies to changes in blood counts, calcium, and any other minor changes. Divide them into homogeneous groups, and "attach" each group to the pancreas image according to an order of priority (given by the sensitivity and specificity of the marker).

In short, use the mnemonics respecting the clinical logic, and it will be easy for you not only to remember the various pathological alterations, but also to proceed correctly and orderly in the diagnostic process. Try a couple of case reports, or some specific disease or differential diagnosis process. If you want, send me 2-3 memorization examples, and I'll tell you my opinion on how effectively you developed them.

I hope these study tips of mine are useful to you and congratulations on your graduation, which I understand is forthcoming.
A salute.

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