How you control what you take studied for an examination?

In my sessions of mentor­a online, this question arises repeated times.

It has all the sense. Although the best thing to study is the benefit to do it and the satisfaction of the knowledge, is necessary pass to be able to advance in the race. They are fixed of the way that there is to surpass.

Habitual, the most frequent thing, is than you do not like all the subjects the same. He is natural and it is not necessary to give more importance him. There are subjects more barren than others, and within a same subject there are subjects that we would throw to the trash by far pleasure.

As resident of Otorrino it hated the vertigo subjects. The surgical subjects and urgencies ORL were excited. Things of that one time. Nowadays, nevertheless, I adore the vertigo and I like to read envelope he.

So calm€¦ Something that today you detest can like you within 2 years and you will recover it for your formation. But you must know most basic that subject to pass your examination and to remove good qualification if it is possible.

Often we ignored what it does not attract to us, and this is dangerous for your reviews before the examination.



There are 2 fundamental techniques:

  1. The €œreturns€. It consists of reading and rereading, with different degrees from depth, all the notes, from the first subject to the last one. This it is the most frequent method, at least in my experience. In my case, I needed to make 3 returns of the agenda to go with tranquillity to an examination (*la tranquillity definition can vary; for me he was to go with the security to obtain a notable at least).
  2. The index of concepts. This method is used less, or perhaps I have not met so many students who use it. These students know what concepts take clear and which no, and more often reread or during more time those concepts or inscriptions that resist to them. If them questions by how many returns need to give to the notes before an examination, do not know well what to answer to you.


My first return consisted of a relatively fast reading to know everything what the agenda contained.

The second return consisted of reading slowly, understanding it everything and to memorise simpler concepts and processes (approximately a 50% of the total).

In the third return, it reinforced already memorised, and to memorise the rest. The effectiveness of this memorization was variable. If it had enough time, it took memorised more of 90%.

Advantages of this method:

  • It is easy to control, since to count a number of 2, 3 or 4 returns are simple
  • Completing your ideal number of returns, you make sure to take controlled a great percentage of the agenda

Risks of this method: in the preparation of ex¡manes of great volume (for example, the legendary examinations of Reuma+Trauma of the UAM), each return lasts as much time that easily appears temptations to leave subjects to a side, to accelerate the first or second return and to finish the last days discovering that as soon as you dominate a few important issues.

This jeopardizes the memorization of the last days before the examination and it puts in situation to take the subject agenda to you €œwith pins€, depending entirely on the luck and the difficulty of the questions.

Other weaknesses of the method of the returns: to fall in the temptation to happen quickly through boring or too difficult concepts, shortening artificially the second return although exceeded time to you.

When you leave difficult concepts for the last days, you are trusting those hours in which the energies can be decreased if you take to long time in way examination ON.


In this case, the student arrives at the intermediate phase of preparation of examinations (centered in the understanding of concepts and first memorization) with the knowledge of what concepts exactly are resisting to him.

I say that he knows exactly what resists to him because I am thinking about the ideal form to apply this method. If you are of that they use this method, he would be brilliant that you told to the details in the commentaries 🙂 us

Disadvantage of this method: or you take an exhaustive index of all the concepts that enter the examination, or run the risk of leaving matter without covering.

Advantages of the method of the index: according to one of its defenders, Scott Young, that method, applied well, allows to know you exactly what agenda you dominate. I say €œexactly€ and not approximately.

How propose does Scott Young to use this method? Taking a registry of all the concepts on which they can ask you in the examination at issue. He speaks to use a notebook for it, but obvious you can use the support that you like more.

Having never used this method, I do not dare to give radical messages you exceeds how it must become. But I tell you that I would use the educational guides to make my index.

We take as example the subject from Epidemiology from the MADRID UNIVERSITY. This is what the educational guide of his 5 first subjects says:

1. Concept of health and public health. Determinants of the state of health of a population. Natural history of the disease. Levels of prevention.
2. Demography and public health. Sources of data: census, register, registry.
3. Static demography. Population structure. Types of population.
4. Dynamic demography. Natality. Mortality. Standardization of rates. Life expectancy. Avoidable mortality. Lost potential years of life. Migratory movements.
5. Diagnosis of health of the community. Sanitary indicators.

If it had to prepare to me for an examination of this matter, it would make a listing of the concepts that appear within each subject and it would have it to good collection during the review. Some educational guides as those of the University of Murcia detach with more detail each subject and this removal to us are what must be marked in the review list. This is what appears in its webpage for subjects 2 to 6 of the same subject:

SUBJECT 2. Measures of frequency of the disease.

Measures of frequency of the disease.

SUBJECT 3. Measures of association. Relative risk (RR) and Odds Ratio (OR).

SUBJECT 4. Main designs epidemiologists.

Types of studies epidemiologists. Main designs epidemiologists. Criteria of classification of the designs.

SUBJECT 5. Experimental studies.

Experimental studies. Types. Concept and basic scheme. Main aspects of the design and the development. Studies of communitarian intervention.

SUBJECT 6. Clinical trials

Clinical trials experimental Studies Objective; Criteria of inclusion and exclusion of the subjects. Randomization; Evaluation of the effect. Data analysis. Possible slants. Ethical aspects.

Ten in that we lie down to review several times which already we know well because that sensation of competition consoles to us. But you want to be effective compensates more to leave separate the concepts you that already you have internalised, and to work more in the difficult concepts. You must be marking this in your index.

The 24-48 hours before the examination, a fast look to the index would have to be enough to assure to you that nothing escapes to you. At least, that affirms Scott€¦



Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

6 Commentaries
  • Marcia
    Published to 18:39 h, 03 October To respond

    I have liked much the article! Thank you very much I am trying to use the method of the returns€¦ but slip when organizing the time that me tomaria each return€¦ as podria to calculate it? some suggestion?

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 17:39 h, 05 October To respond

      The time that takes each return depends on the experience of each. I remember that 5-6 leaves of notes taken with my letter had been 1 hour to me of reading in the first return, and 2-3 working hours in the second return, at the time of including all the material and being connecting with already the well-known, memorising, etc.

      The best thing is to measure in the form of Pomodoros how long takes to you to take a reflective reading of each subject, and with that to calculate the time that you will take in reviewing all the material.

  • Marcia
    Published to 20:36 h, 05 October To respond

    Thank you very much Dra. will try with that!

  • Hiber
    Published to 17:43 h, 20 February To respond

    Right what needed to try thank you very much with the method of the returns€¦

  • manuela
    Published to 08:53 h, 23 July To respond

    Good morning, aconsejarias the method of the returns for an examination type test? Gracias

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 18:13 h, 25 July To respond

      Hello, Manuela,

      The truth is that, since I wrote this article, I have become fan number 1 of the reviews with flashcards, because they allow to give the necessary returns you to each concept. Instead of to give €˜returns€™ to all the subjects, you review more times the concepts than it more costs to you to remember.

      Re-reading, that is basically what we put into operation with the method of the returns, works optimally if it is reread with the suitable interval, before we have forgotten most of read the first time. This is what some experts ( defend, but is not thus, is better €˜to distribute€™ the concepts of each subject in different flashcards and to trust that system to review each concept with the adapted spaced one

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