The Study Dude—Let Dr. Rogers Pop you a PhD

If you’ve got belly aches, consult a doctor.  If you’ve got study pains, consult a doctor.  The doc might just pop you a PhD.  MD Peter Rogers touts study ideas that helped him score top of class for a medical degree.

So, what does the doctor order?

Study and get fit—that’s it.

When my classmates asked me how I got the grades for grad school, I said, “I have no life.”  When they further prodded on what I did for fun, I said, “I workout in the gym three hours a day and audit a ballet class.”  (But I only took four classes that semester, including the ballet.)  Dr. Peter Rogers agrees with my student lifestyle.  He says, “A common survival approach for 1st year students is to give up almost everything in life except exercise and conversations with friends, and to study as much as possible” (p.  89 of 243, 41%).  Why listen to him?  He coached wrestling while scoring at the top of his MD program.

Solve problems in your head just before bed.

In Junior High School, I replayed my math homework for the day as I lay down for bed.  If I couldn’t remember a step, I’d force myself out of bed and consult my textbook.  The semester I did this, I won the award for top math student in my grade nine class.  “For something that is important to you, like a review list for a test tomorrow, it is helpful to go over it just before going to bed, so that your mind will focus on it, as you sleep that night” (Rogers, p.  75 of 243, 36%).

Practice straight away.

Dr. Rogers says, “Doing practice questions immediately after studying a subject helps us clarify the concepts, and to capture them into our long-term memory” (p.  74 of 243, 35%).   After class, I skipped straight to the math problems, often avoiding the textbook explanations.  After all, the prof gave the skinny.  But at online universities, the prof is often absent, so we need to scour the textbooks.  But there’s a better way to make the most of your study time: buy outline books.

Buy outline books.

I loved outlines.  I’d make them from cue cards or straight in MS Word’s outline view.  But I never clued into the value of an outline book.  What’s an outline book?  It features tons of headings, each followed by short blurbs.  So, the headings serve as a makeshift outline: “In general, outline format books are more precisely organized and make better ‘foundations’ for ‘condensed notes.  For many subjects, I like to buy a medium length outline book and then just add additional information into the margins to personalize it and add value to that book” (Rogers, p.  71 of 243, 33%).

Dr. Peter Rogers further says, “A concise textbook tends to provide a good summary of a field and contains a higher return on investment per hour studying ….  Typically, I would study primarily from a smaller, concise textbook, and then only use a big textbook for looking up stuff” (p.  70 of 243, 33%).   For you nursing hopefuls, “you could just buy an outline format review book and then go online to see pictures and drawings of relevant topics” (Rogers, p.  73 of 243, 35%).  So, instead of buying just assigned textbooks, make better use of study time with outline books.

Always refer to solutions before solving the questions.

Dr. Rogers reveals, “A lot of students say, ‘I don’t have the time for question books.’ That is because they spend too much time trying to test themselves to ‘figure out’ the answers.  My way is faster and better.  Just circle the answers, understand them and memorize them” (p.  74 of 243, 35%).  In other words, memorize and understand the solutions manual before trying the questions.  Makes sense.  Sometimes I’d do math problems, getting them all wrong the first go.  Talk about fuzzy thinking!  I would’ve performed better by referring to the solutions manual straight away.  By doing so, I could figure out the steps for solving problems with fewer errors.  Less fuzzy thinkin’; less time eaten.

Befriend book indexes.

I told my students to borrow every library book on a topic the day the essay’s assigned.  Then look in the indexes for a possible essay topic.  If the topic is in the index of all the books and has many pages dedicated to its discussion, then you’ve found a winning essay idea.  But you can take indexes further.  Our MD friend, Dr.  Rogers says he “will reference [a relevant] magazine article into the index of the main book” (p.  72 of 243, 34%).  I’ve never tried that, but he scored top of his class for his MD degree.

Never naysay the doctor’s advice.  After all, Doctor Rogers may pop you a PhD.

Rogers, Peter, MD.  (2014).  Straight A at Stanford and on to Harvard.  Teenager Version: How to Become a Great Student.  E-book.