For Basic Sciences students, the next break will be short but sweet. Use this time to relax and recharge, but when you come back, be prepared to hit the ground running. Some students have difficulty returning to medical school with the same aptitude and discipline they had before leaving. Here are some simple tips to help retain your medical knowledge during the break:


Although you don’t have any classes or exams coming up, reviewing what you learned during the semester is the best way to retain essential medical knowledge. Take a few moments every night to look over your notes or textbooks. If you’re an American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine student, you can view old classes via Echo 360 lecture capture.

Avoid cram sessions if you feel like you’re losing touch. That will only make things worse. Studies have shown that cramming adversely affects retention. If you crammed before finals week, it may be best to review your notes now.

Shadow a Physician

This is a great way to get a glimpse of what life will be like during clinical rotations. By watching a professional at work, you can see a physician’s typical day. It will also get you in the mindset of applying medical information instead of just memorizing it. This will be especially helpful if you take any pre-clinical courses the next semester. If you want to learn more about how to shadow a physician, the AAMC has an excellent guide.

Take Practice USMLE Exams

The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 will cover the entirety of your Basic Sciences. By studying early, you’ll familiarize yourself with the layout of the exam and, as a bonus, see what you’ll learn in the coming semesters. The USMLE site offers practice materials to create a realistic test simulation. If you just want to try out some sample questions, you can always take this sample test.

Whichever retention method you prefer, keep in mind that idle time is the enemy. The longer you keep course material out of mind, the greater difficulty you’ll have readjusting to your study routine when you return. Even though you’ve earned that well-deserved break, a career in medicine is a lifetime of learning.  Spend your break wisely and you’ll be refreshed and ready to fully dedicate yourself to your studies when you get back to school.

What are some of your tips for retaining info?