Being a dentist is a challenging but rewarding profession. As a pre-dental student, you look forward to a stable career, healthy income, balanced lifestyle, and self-employment possibility.
However, let’s live in the present and face the difficulties regarding your studies. Getting into dental school is a serious accomplishment by itself, but it’s not the end. It is just the start of an exciting, demanding, and yet rewarding path. Therefore, you must keep working hard to acquire all of the skills needed to become a qualified dentist.
The following 5 study tips will help you effectively prepare for your dental exams. So keep reading and learn how to make the most of your dental education!
1. Take notes
Taking notes can be a potent habit if you get used to it. Note-taking in class might be intimidating, whether you’re sitting in a lecture hall or watching a lecture online. But with a few clever techniques, anybody can take clear, practical notes and prepare appropriately for exams.
There are many benefits from taking notes, but in general, we can divide them into two:
Advantages of taking good notes in class
As a dental student, you will have to understand and learn a huge amount of information. Anatomy and microbiology can be challenging, so make sure to write down the main points of each lecture.
Actively taking notes during class will increase your attention and understanding of the material. Handwriting is the most effective way of doing so. However, you can bring your laptop and open Microsoft Word or use Google Docs if you want. By using the Google drive options, you can further benefit from online sharing notes with your classmates.
One good note-taking system is the Cornell method. The idea behind it is simple. You should divide the page into 3 sections. There are two columns (a smaller one for questions, keywords, comments, and a bigger one for notes) and one area approximately 5 – 7 lines at the bottom of the page for a summary.
Advantages of using your notes after class
If you are consistent in note-taking, you will save time and energy at the end of each semester. Good notes can be an excellent source for studying because you don’t have to reread/rewatch a large number of lectures.
A good practice is to revise your notes a day or two after class. This way, you can double-check them and add definitions of key terms and anything you have missed or not understood during lectures.
Summarize your work
If you are genuinely devoted to your dental education, you need to learn how to summarise your notes and reference books. It may seem like a lot of unnecessary work. However, once you do the groundwork, you will see how quick and effective the learning part is.
So, how to summarize your studies?
First of all, you need to synthesize the important information, list all terms included in the topic, and use headings and key points. If you are a visual learner, you could highlight things in different colors to recall them easier.
Then you can convert the gathered information into a convenient form. It can be tables, audio recordings, flashcards, or mind-maps. Whatever will work for you and help you the most.
Review your notes regularly
Regular reading and revision keep the knowledge fresh in your mind, reducing the urge to cram the night before the major exam.
There are two possibilities why you cram at the end of the semester:
- You procrastinate and put off everything until the very last moment.
- You believe that you manage to study effectively and yield results by studying everything at once for long sessions.
One Stafford research has shown that your productivity decreases the longer you work/ study, mainly if you don’t rest properly. So, here is why cramping will not help you with your studies.
Therefore, studying overnight and sacrificing sleep is counter-productive. However, by allowing yourself to rest, you will get much of the energy needed. After an hour-long study session, just 15 minutes can get you back to almost 100% productivity, and you will be able to continue studying for more extended periods.
Therefore, after the groundwork is done, all you need to do is find time and reread, revise and review your notes!
2. Determine your learning strategy
Remember that there isn’t one right way to study. What works best for you may not necessarily work for others.
Use your first year to find your studying strategy. This is extremely important for international students who are studying dentistry abroad in English. As a dental student in Europe, it could be challenging to balance between getting used to the new living environment and being an excellent dental student.
Answer the following questions and figure out which is the most effective learning method for you:
- Does listening to music help you focus?
- When are you most productive – during the day or the evening?
- Can you benefit from studying group?
- Where do you prefer to read – at home or library?
Once you have determined your learning strategy, you can continue with creating a study plan.
3. Create an effective study schedule
The practice of arranging and prioritizing your responsibilities and particular activities is defined as “time management.” Good time management allows you to study more effectively, allowing you to do more work in less time. In addition, it reduces stress and boosts productivity.
One of the most effective ways to manage your day and establish future objectives is to make a timetable. Make a balanced plan with tasks you need to do and those you want to do. Daily activities such as fitness, cooking, listening to music, and so on should be included.
You must have a solid strategy in place, plan ahead, and be mindful of your weekly schedule. This way, you have a guarantee to meet all deadlines and never have to study on a plane a day or two before an exam.
Don’t be concerned if you can’t keep to the schedule all the time. Be flexible, and update your study schedule every week so you can see how much you’ve completed and how much you still have to accomplish.
You can try the Pomodoro Technique. It is a time management method that is based on 5 easy steps:
- Decide what task you need to complete
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on your task until the timer rings
- Take a short 3-5 minute break
- Repeat the cycle 4 times and take one longer break – 15-30 minutes.
4. Do something other than dentistry
We all can agree that your main priority is to study. Even so, you need to set time aside for yourself.
Trying to balance an ever-growing list of priorities, learning the foundations of your future career, and performing well can be discouraging and may lead to burnout. That’s why you need to relax regularly.
Go for a quick walk, visit a museum, try fitness or yoga, do whatever makes you feel happy, and will encourage you to pursue your dreams.
It is essential to do something that is not related to your dental education. That way, you will never lose interest in your studies, and you will have a healthy body and mind.
5. Stay healthy and increase your productivity
Food is vital for oral health, and it is also necessary for effective study. Exams are like mental marathons, and one of the most efficient methods to fuel a dental study session is nutrition.
Protein-rich foods are the most brain-boosting. Therefore, you should eat high-protein meals like cheese, eggs, meats, or nuts.
We all know that drinking water is vital. It way sounds cliche, but drink your water and always be hydrated.
In advance, you should know the importance of healthy sleep habits. Our brains analyze diverse information acquired during the day when we sleep. With a healthy seep, you may be assured that everything has been appropriately assimilated and that you have enough room for fresh memories. You need to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
You must be in the correct attitude to study well. You must begin focusing on the good aspects of your life to achieve this. In this manner, you will alter your perspective and, as a result, your reality.
Create a vision that includes goals that you genuinely want to attain. This will help you stay motivated to study even more.
Follow the study tips that we give you in this article, and your success is guaranteed.