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3 Ways To Better Study For Anatomy in Medical School

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Want to learn how to study for anatomy in medical school? Don’t worry I got you!

I managed to do well in anatomy in med school and always aced the anatomy lab practical.

Not only did I do well – I became an anatomy teaching assistant (TA)

As a TA for the gross anatomy class in medical school, I’m sure I have some unique med school tips to help you better study gross anatomy.

So in this post, I will give you three methods on how you can better study for anatomy in medical school. 

If you prefer a video version of this post, check out my YouTube video below! Make sure you subscribe if you enjoy it!

Now let’s get to the tips to show you the best ways to study for anatomy in medical school.

How To Study For The Anatomy Lab Practical: 

How To Study For Anatomy In Medical School

What makes anatomy so unique is the lab practical portion of the exam.

It’s nerve-wracking to have to label all the small nerves, muscles, and vessels in the body.

So how do you better study for the anatomy lab practical? 

Here is the method I’d recommend.

Create A List Of All Your Gross Anatomy Structures:

How To Study For Anatomy In Medical School

After each dissection lab you do, create a list of every structure your dissection guide expected you to find. 

Many schools have this at the very end of the dissection guide, but if yours doesn’t – create your own.

Now once the test starts approaching, I recommend you begin studying 1-1.5 weeks in advance. 

So if the test is on Friday, I would recommend you begin studying the Wednesday before.

Now in regards to studying for the gross anatomy lab practical, I want you to get as many repetitions as possible.

Here is how you can incorporate repetitions for anatomy in medical school.

Let’s say you have nine labs which you’ll be tested over for your next anatomy exam. Here is how you can study for it.

  • Wednesday: Review Lab 1-3 and find all the gross anatomy structures
  • Thursday: Review Lab 4-6
  • Saturday: Review Lab 7-9
  • Sunday: Review Lab 1-4 on new anatomy cadaver
  • Monday: Review Lab 5-9 on new anatomy cadaver
  • Tuesday-Thursday: Review Weak Points and ask professors/classmates/teaching assistants for help.

Using this above method, you will see each structure multiple times. Anatomy will start the become more natural and ingrained in your head. 

Your classmates on the other end, probably have only seen each structure 1-2 times. You, on the other hand, have likely seen them 3-6 times by now!

You will do great on your anatomy and physiology exam!

Using Anki To Study Anatomy in Medical School:

How To Study For Anatomy In Medical School With Anki

I love Anki for medical school. I made a whole post about it here! (link)

But studying anatomy in med school with Anki just works perfectly.

Here is what I would recommend.

Take screenshots of your dissection guide. You may already have one.

Then use a tool like the occlusion tool in Anki.

If you’re unfamiliar, the occlusion tool takes an image with multiple labels (like an anatomy figure) and allows you to make one flashcard per label.

Here is an example of the occlusion tool in Anki below.

How To Study For Anatomy in Med School

How To Study For Anatomy in Med School

If your dissection guide does not have quality pictures, then take screenshots of a tool like Netter’s Anatomy – which is my favorite book for anatomy. You can read reviews on it here. 

Make your flashcards and create a schedule on how often you plan on reviewing them.

I’d recommend you review the flashcards before you go into lab to help you during the dissection. Then review for your anatomy lab practical with a scheduled review plan. 

If you want a more structured approach to studying for anatomy in medical school, check out The Preclinical Guide where I teach you to study for courses like anatomy, pathology, and more in medical school!

The Preclinical Guide

Check out all the amazing reviews from our students here.

Using a structure Anki study plan will help you better identify a structure for the gross anatomy lab practical.

Oh man, I’m getting excited because you’re about to ace that test!

How To Study For Gross Anatomy Multiple Choice:

Studying for the gross anatomy lab practical is honestly is the easy part. You just need repetitions.

The multiple choice portion of the gross anatomy class is what makes it so tricky to study for in med school.

Not only do you need to be able to identify a muscle – you need to know what its functions are, what nerve innervates it, and what would go wrong if a patient had a particular injury.

This requires you to be able to make connections.

If you want to learn how I make connections and study in medical school – check out this free guide on free step-by-step video course. 

How To Study Free Guide

You may also enjoy how I studied less than 5 hours a day in med school here. 

But back to anatomy.

So how do you study for the anatomy in med school with regards to the multiple choice portion?

Here is a method I love.

Using The Excel Method To Study Gross Anatomy In Med School:

How To Study For Anatomy In Medical School With Excel

This is a method I teach to may paid coaching students, but I just couldn’t keep it from you on this one.

The excel method is just perfect for studying for anatomy in medical school. 

Here is how it works.

Use a spreadsheet program such as Excel or Google Sheets. Then make 2-3 columns (Lab, Question, Answer)

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. As you’re going through each lab, add questions you think which may show up on your gross anatomy test.

What questions should you create? 

I love questions such as the following: 

  • What nerve innervates…
  • What is the blood supply to (insert muscle/organ)…
  • Patient has an injury at (insert spinal cord or brachial plexus region). What deficits would they have?
  • What infrahyoid muscle has a different nerve innervation?
  • What nerve branches make the dancing man in the face?
  • What are the exit points of each cranial nerve in the skull?

Do you see how each question requires you to make a connection? Some even require several layers of connections.

If you understand anatomy in this fashion, you will be able to study for Step 1 so much better. Speaking of Step 1 – you can learn my tips for the test here.

Now once you have your answer/question cells filled out in Excel, white out the answer section. Do the questions for a lab and see which questions you struggle with.

Any questions you struggle with – highlight those questions so you can review them the next day before you move on with the rest of your questions. 

This is a great way to incorporate repetitions for your gross anatomy test in medical school. 

Hope this technique helps you on your multiple choice portion of your anatomy test. Remember you can use the Excel method throughout medical school. It’s one of my favorite study techniques. 

What’s Next? 

So hope you found this post on how to study for anatomy in medical school.

If you truly master you study techniques for anatomy, it can become one of your favorite classes. Sure you may not prefer the formaldehyde, but you have to admit – the body is freaking cool!

Now I hope these tools will allow you to enjoy your gross anatomy class in med school a little bit more.

So what’s next?

First, try to incorporate these techniques into your study regimen and let me know what you think!

Then check out these other posts that our readers have loved in the past.

Studying in Medical School No More Than 5 Hours A Day
Top 5 Mistakes First Year Medical Students Make
My Step 1 Experience
Tips for The First Year of Medical School

Another reminder that if you want to learn how I studied in medical school, grab your free step-by-step guide and video course! Check it out here. 

How To Study Free GuideFinally, if you enjoyed this post and are wanting more – check out The Preclinical Guide.

I attempt to give you all the tips I wish I knew to succeed during the first two years of med school. This includes studying for anatomy in med school, but also how to manage your time, study for Step 1, and boost your CV for residency.

If you want a bonus, check out our best selling sales bundle where I include my top selling book How To Study in Medical School for free! You can find the sales bundle here. 

But that’s it for this post!

Hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time my friends…

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