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Peer Advice: Perfecting Study Strategies - Tips for Success in Optometry School

A picture of a keyboard, glasses, pens, and notepad laying on a desk

At this point in our academic careers, we all have considerable experience with studying.

However, starting optometry school at SCCO required me to adapt my study habits to meet the more rigorous academic demands. I used the first two quarters to experiment and discover what worked best for me, ensuring I was prepared for the rest of my time in optometry school. It's important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for you. The main takeaway is to identify your effective study strategies and make necessary adjustments to achieve your desired results. Here are some tips and insights I gained during my first year!

  1. Try out different study methods, don’t be afraid to try something new!
    • In undergrad, I liked to rewrite all of my notes as a first pass of the material before an exam, but in optometry school, I realized that I didn’t have enough time to do that. Therefore, I started creating my study guide during lecture instead of just writing on the lecture slides. I made sure to organize the material in my own words and created sort of like a rough draft of my study guide. This saved me a lot of time.
    • Active recall is a super helpful tool
      • Instead of just looking over your notes, after the first or second pass, try to recall the information.
    • Studying with others
      • For some courses, my friends and I found it helpful to talk out concepts and ideas instead of studying individually. There have been many cases where during an exam, I knew the answer for a question because I could hear my friend’s voice talking about that material in my head! It is also important to recognize when studying with others vs by yourself would be more beneficial for you.
  2. Utilize different apps and note taking tools, find what works best for you
    • Notion has a toggle function which makes studying using active recall very easy!
      • After writing your notes, you can hide the content via the toggles and quiz yourself. This saved me a lot of time and was a super efficient way to study.
    • My personal favorite note taking app is notability.
      • There are a lot of functions that aid in efficient studying and it is super user friendly!
      • There is a tape function that you can use to quiz yourself. I found this particularly helpful for courses like anatomy where there was a lot of memorization.
  3. Space out when you go in to practice for proficiencies
    • You will be spending a lot of time practicing different skills you learn during lab, and it’s only natural to want to spend a couple hours before your proficiency due to nerves! But I highly recommend more, short practice sessions instead of one or two long ones. If you practice one skill over and over again for a long period of time, you will definitely feel fatigued and may falsely lower your confidence.

In conclusion, navigating the rigorous demands of optometry school requires a willingness to adapt and refine your study habits. By experimenting with different methods and tools, you can discover what works best for you and optimize your study time. Remember, the key is to remain flexible and open to change, as what might have worked in undergrad may not be as effective in this new academic environment. Ultimately, the goal is to find a study routine that not only helps you grasp the material but also keeps you motivated and confident! Happy studying!