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How much time do medical students spend studying per week? What is it like?


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Will’s Answer

There is a big gradient, as the people who want to get excellent grades will study almost nonstop during preclinical years. Assuming good study methods and decent discipline, if you just want to pass, in my opinion, listening to 3 hours lecture (average-ish amount/day) + 3-4 hours of actual studying is enough. A lot of students, whether healthy or not, study all day every day in first and second year. There is a lot of pressure to study intensely particularly in second year, as there is a high pressure test at the end of the year (step 1) that is the single biggest determinant of residency placement. Third year is a lot different. There is much less book work, and I probably "studied" 2-3 hours/night when I got home from rotations. Fourth year at most schools is considered very easy outside of a few rotations, and there is minimal studying if you don't want to study.

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Rich’s Answer

The answers already provided are wonderful. I’d only add the quote from Mark Twain, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”; recognizing the same holds true in preparation for the chosen pursuit. If one wants to be a baseball player, naturally, the person will spend ‘countless’ hours in a batting cage, getting better and perfecting the swing, mechanics and adjustments without even recognizing how many hours they dedicated. Same is true when enjoying the reading and mentored learning that happens almost perpetually in the field of Medicine. The incremental knowledge that builds seemingly is endless in the career, in each stage of school, residency, fellowship and into appointment. I’m not sure assigning a number of hours would be a fair as knowledge obtained is exceptionally beneficial, and self motivating to learn more.

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Dan’s Answer

It depends on your academic prowess. If you learn quick, you'll study less, if you learn slow you'll study the majority of the week. Most students spend at least 4-6 hours or so hours a day during 2nd year of medical school studying due to boards and overall a more intense year. First year you can sort of get away with less as it is usually just basic sciences. 3rd and 4th year are clinical, so it depends on what rotation you are on.

On average, I would say it is safe to say that a normal medical school examination is equivalent to a cumulative general science course in undergrad. Rough estimate/approx.

Don't let that scare you though, during undergraduate the key is to develop your own method of studying and figuring out your academic ceiling is.

Thank you! Nicole M.

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NAZIFA’s Answer

about 50-60 hours per week.

Hi Nazifa, can you give a little more information around this to help the student? How did you keep track of your studying? What was that like? Gurpreet Lally

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