Thursday, May 26, 2022

Flashcards VS Note-taking – Which is More Effective for Studying? | Medical Student Answers

What is going on guys my name is kenji and welcome back to the channel here is the first time you're watching one of my videos but just in case it is i'm a final year medical student and biomedical science graduate studying keemstar london and guys one of the most common questions that we often ask ourselves in university or school .

Is whether or not we should take notes or make flash cards and particularly which is more effective and which is more helpful when arising for our exams so after eight years of being in university myself i'm going to be taking you guys through the pros and the cons of each method of note-taking or flashcards and finally .

Ending up with what is the most superior method of learning in preparation for your exams however if you're already sold on the concept of making flash cards and you think that's best for you i'll leave a link up here on a video that i made about how i make flashcards in university and how you can do so as well .

And i'll leave timestamps below as well if you want to skip to any part of the video but without further ado let's go ahead and get started starting off with taking notes and the pros on that as well okay so taking notes is probably the most common way of learning in .

University and i certainly did that for a very long time myself but it's really important to talk about the pros and what i mean by taking notes is after you've watched the lecture after you've actually gone to lecture coming home and opening up the lecture on your laptop then actually taking handwritten notes on what the lecturer said .

What was actually the topic there and then starting to understand it yourself that's what i described as taking notes everyone has a sort of kind of definition but i think that's the main sort of way of describing taking notes let's start off by actually talking about what the pros are for taking notes all right so the first pro and taking .

Notes and the one that i probably you know liked most is that when you're actually making notes in the whole entire process it allows you to actually learn through understanding and conceptualizing what you learned as a lecture and helps you consolidate your learning so for example if i'm in medical school and i'm .

Learning about the cardiac cycle of our heart i wouldn't actually learn through reading the lecture slides how i will learn is by drawing out the heart you know on my my piece of paper on my ipad and actually writing notes alongside it and breaking down the whole concept of the cardiac cycle .

Step by step in order for me to actually learn that information and remember for future use that's the first advantage on making notes it allows you to actually understand it and translate what you've learned in the lecture in your own words to allow you to finally memorize it and understand the lecture content that's .

The first advantage of taking notes the second pro making notes is that once you actually invest the initial time to create the notes you will then have a permanent copy of what you understand in terms of the lecture in your own words so that when it comes back to actually revising the topic .

In preparation for the exam which might be in a couple of weeks a couple of months time you will straight away be able to understand and re-teach yourself all of the concepts because once upon a time you actually invested the time to explain that concept in your own words so that your future self can .

Actually understand what you're talking about and that's the second pro of making your own notes the last and final pro about make your own notes is that once you actually understand the concept through this note-taking process it makes it a lot easier to actually commit that information to memory so for example if you're baking a cake .

Rather than using you know let's say flash cards to memorize all the ingredients in a sequential order actually understanding why you're adding this ingredient while you're adding this right now will make it so much easier to remember compared to if you just sat down and tried to memorize all of the ingredients .

And memorize them one after the other the actual process of learning and understanding through note-taking makes memorizing it way easier and to retain it in your long-term memory and that's kind of the final pro of taking notes let's now move on to talk about all the cons associated with making notes .

The first con and the first thing that i don't like about making notes on my lectures is that it is extremely time consuming one single lecture in medical school can often take me one hour to an hour and a half to actually sit there and make notes on that entire concept and if you have around 40 to 50 lectures per module .

Those hours can really really rack up writing things by hand or even your laptop can actually be quite a slow process and the actual friction involved in creating notes compared to making flash cards is actually a lot higher it can definitely slow you down when actually learning your content the second con with making notes is that it .

Can actually be quite a passive process and it can actually make it quite difficult to commit things to memory properly sometimes writing these notes can be very very passive particularly when you're just copying and pasting stuff from different lectures and putting it into your word document or actually .

You know writing it out that is in comparison to more of an active process whereby you're actually testing yourself constantly on the content that you're actually learning in these lectures if note-taking is your only form of actually committing things to memory then what you'll actually find is that for example if you're a medical school .

And you need to know a large amount of content for a very very long time what you'll actually find is that you'll be constantly rereading your notes and going over them and you know going back to your notes that you made two years ago in order to try and relearn these concepts so the actual process of making notes is .

Your only way of committing these to memory you'll actually find it quite difficult and again that process of trying to revisit all of your notes in the past can definitely be very time consuming and trust me i've been there the next con is that trying to find the information that you made in your notes .

Either by you know handwriting or even on a laptop can definitely take some time and can be quite time consuming when i'm studying for my exams in medical school i often have to go back to old lectures and old notes in order to re-review the information that i made just to kind of remind myself of the key concepts back when i used to make notes .

Going back to that one document that one you know note-taking document that i made two years ago can take so much time and can actually make the process of making notes quite pointless because the friction of actually finding that note that i made a long time ago can take such a long time and .

Can actually deter me from wanting to learn the notes i made once upon a time and that's the last con in regards to taking notes now let's actually focus on flashcards first off defining what a flashcard is and then again talking about the pros and the cons of flashcards so starting off with the definition of .

Flashcards as i'm sure you guys know essentially what a flashcard is is having a flashcard like this so a piece of paper with a question on one side which might be you know what is the first part of the cardiac cycle and then on the flip side having the answer which would be the answer that i said about the cardiac cycle you can either make a .

Flashcard on paper using an actual physical flashcard or you can use a software like anki flashcards which is the mac and the ipad software that i use in order to actually create these flashcards on my computer but again it's the same concept on one side you have a question .

On the other side you have an answer so this is in comparison to making notes which is actually handwritten or actually typing them up this is actually making questions that you can then later review and ask yourself down the road in order to test yourself and test the knowledge you have on a particular concept or in a particular .

Question and the first pro making flashcards is that this is an incredibly efficient process and method of actually committing things to memory one key thing that i learned to university is that you don't actually learn through writing you don't learn through making notes the way that you learn concepts is .

By testing yourself and trying to actually retrieve that information from your head that actual process of retrieval of active recall is what allows you to learn a concept in school so i personally do have notes as well but i also have flash cards created over the last couple .

Of years which contains all of the information that i learned through medical school and i actually go through these flash cards every single day rain or shine weaken or not and as long as i actually do that theoretically i should contain all of the theory in my head from the last five .

Years of medical school so long as i continue to review these flashcards continue to test myself on this information and continue to remind myself if i get a concept actually wrong and that's the first pro of using flashcards the second pro is the actual friction to create these flashcards is incredibly low when .

I actually make my flashcards i don't actually type anything in the majority of time what i often do is on one side of the screen have my flashcard creating app like anki up on the second side of the screen what i often have is a lecture content or resources like pass med and then what i do is just copy and .

Paste the information from the lectures or from past med and then paste that directly into my flashcard note-taking system on anki and that is a flashcard created the friction of doing so is incredibly low and the rest of the time is actually just spent on trying to actually learn that content and information and .

Actually review these flashcards which can save me so much time it can be very very efficient the final pro that i find with making flashcards is the actual retrieval of information is incredibly quick so for example if i'm doing a question on a cardiac arrest if i want to actually retrieve the notes that i made .

On that cardiac arrest all i have to do is go on to my anki software type in cardiac arrest or for example also just type in pulmonary embolism and straight away in seconds what anki will do is retrieve all of the cards i've made on a pulmonary embolism or cardiac arrest whatever i search for and immediately .

Give me all the information related to that topic and because anki also has an iphone and ipad app it means that all of that information i made is available to me on the go wherever i might be in the hospital or in a lecture and that process of retrieving information retrieving the .

Notes that you made is incredibly quick and easy and yes as i said there's so many pros with making flash cards but there definitely are a few cons as well to consider the first pro and like the most important thing that i absolutely hate is that you need to review these flash .

Cards every single day because if you don't these flash cards will build up over time for example after my last exam i took a four day kind of holiday vacation to just not look at any sort of medicine any work at all and when i came back on that fifth day i had over 300 cards to review and that took me like three hours to get through .

So if you're not reviewing them on a daily basis then it can actually be a waste of time you need to make sure you do that and it can be incredibly annoying the next really important con to consider when making flash cards is that it's not a very good way of learning concepts as a whole what you often end up doing with anki flash cards .

Is that you end up remembering specific facts in a concept not the actual whole entire concept which can make it very difficult to learn entire concepts so for example if i was to try and learn the cardiac cycle using flash guards what might actually happen is i will learn different parts of the cardiac cycle in .

Isolation and when it comes to actually relating this to physiology to disease and let's say heart failure i actually won't be able to understand the concept of heart failure because i only learned the different parts of the cardiac cycle in isolation and not as a concept as a whole so if you get asked a question in a test .

That tests your understanding you may actually struggle to understand and give a good cohesive answer because flash cards don't really allow you to understand they allow you to memorize so if you don't actually have that implicit understanding of a concept you won't be able to actually understand the concept as a whole and .

That can be a very dangerous potential downfall the last con of making flashcards is that although it's very efficient it's not very enjoyable what i absolutely love about making notes for example using my you know apple pencil and my ipad we're making notes is that the process of using this .

App pencil drawing adding colors all of these things is so enjoyable and i actually love sitting down creating these notes and by the way if you guys want access to all of the notes that i made to pass all of my exams in my third my fourth and fifth year of medical school then you can go ahead and do that .

On my website and as you guys can see these notes that i made were so much fun it was almost like a coloring book so that process is definitely ruined by making flashcards it's not very enjoyable it's copy and pasting a lot of the time and that can take away from the fun of making notes but if that's something you .

Don't really care about if all you care about is efficiency then this is not really a point you need to take consideration but now let's move on to the final part which is actually choosing and discussing what is a more efficient process of learning information is a flash card or is it making notes .

All right so now let's answer the big question which is which method is more superior when learning new content now a simple answer is that they both have their uses and ideally what you want to do is use a mixture of both methods depending on what type of content you're learning and how you want to learn it .

What i'd suggest is before actually starting to learn a new concept i suggest actually taking time to think about what exactly you are trying to achieve with this content of work for example if i was learning the cardiac cycle i know straight away that that is a concept that requires a majority of .

Understanding rather than just rogue learning of information so i might actually spend time making notes instead of flashcards and this is the predominant method that i use in my first second and third year medical school because the first three years of medical school are largely to do with the .

Understanding of how the human body works understanding of physiology and then when i moved on to the later years i started incorporating more flashcard methods however when i moved on to my fourth and fifth year medical school since i already had a very good understanding of how the human body .

Works and the understanding was already in place the rest of the time spent in medical school is more about learning symptoms treatments and management and the majority of that was purely based on memory recall rather than actual understanding of work and that's why i started moving towards making flashcards to learn my new .

Content and over the last kind of year and a half to two years i actually haven't made a single note for quite a while now and the flash card process of learning has really allowed me to get a large amount of information stored in my head over time and as i said if you want a full explanation on .

How i do this and how i make flash cards i a video a video will be linked up there above ideally you want to learn how to do both very very well so going back to the example of the cardiac cycle when you want to actually start learning how it works as a concept as a whole i would .

Recommend starting off making notes you're really understanding it's really spending time trying to understand the overall concept of how the heart works how the heart functions and then once you feel like you have a very good implicit understanding of how the heart functions then i recommend moving on to flash cards to try and .

Memorize those small tiny points you're likely to forget in the future and those points tend not to be about the general understanding because you should already generally understand how the heart works as a whole but it should really be about using the flash cards to then really understand the core key .

Principles in the cardiac cycle and it was by combining these two methods one being note taking and then using flashcards to really solidify all of the specific details that has allowed me to still know and be able to describe in full detail how the cardiac cycle works five years on now from when i first learned it so in conclusion .

Sometimes you may only need to make a few notes in order to fully understand the concepts and that's why i have my ipad and apple pencil at hand in medical school if i ever need to really understand a concept in depth as a whole other times when preparing for exams all i have to do is simply memorize the .

Facts treatments you know management and symptoms and when it comes to learning key facts like that as well as medications that's when i start to use the flashcard method in order to memorize those details so in conclusion my tips and recommendation would be firstly to think about what .

You're learning and whether what you're learning involves purely memory or understanding and then apply either one or both methods in order to fully understand a concept that you want to learn for in preparation for exams that's my comparison of note-taking and flashcards i hope it's giving you guys some value if it has you may want to .

Check out this video over here about flashcards and note-taking and all that good stuff please make sure to leave the video a like down below make sure you subscribe notifications on to never miss a video with our next upload thank you guys so much for watching and i'll see you guys on the next one .

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