What type of student you are?

Recently I had a debate in Twitter where it was spoken of the best way to describe the examinations as Medicine (you can read in detail on this subject in this excellent revision written by Miguel Gal¡n).

During €œthe tuitero€ debate it was mentioned several times that all the Medicine students are shining, because therefore she demands the system and the exigency of a highest average note to enter a Medicine Faculty, at least in Spain (more than 12 points on 14).

Something sounds me bad in this affirmation, since, to my eyes, each student with whom I coexisted at my time of Faculty, and each student who I know as professor is different. There are great differences as far as motivation to learn, profits in examinations written, performance in the practices, capacity of organization€¦

If you want to know more of this subject, it continues reading€¦


After 6 months or 1 year of the home, different capacities are observed. Thus, some pass with shining notes the first examinations and others occur enormous crashes. How they assimilate these first experiences will define their future benefit or suffering in the following years of race.

All equals?

That each student is different, He means that some are better than others?

In my opinion, the result of the first examinations of the race (and any examination) is only that, results of examinations, not a diagnosis on your intellectual capacities. They keep correlation between the time nothing else that you have dedicated to study and the used techniques, and. Sure, it is necessary to know how to pass examinations to get to work in which we like. And if it is that the life costs to you pass?

Before improving your techniques of study, memorization and organization, it agrees to know which are your strong weakness and. In this, a student must come almost as a professional athlete. A tennis player of the professional circuit passes long time analyzing his serve and its diverse blows, with the purpose of directing better the efforts during the training.

As athletes of the mind, the university students win if they know his methods and tricks and reflect on their form to work€¦:

  1. In order to improve the results (the notes and the retention than learn); or€¦
  2. To improve the process by which they reach good results (spending less hours to the more efficient study and doing it).


First that I do in the optative subject of Medicine of the UAM on Techniques of Study it is to remove to the arena this subject and to pass some questionnaires to the students.

This idea arose when I found an article of year 2002 where a systematic review became of works that tried to detect the Medicine students with more success (1). This work related the convergent style of Kolb and the strategist of Entwistle to the obtaining of better results in the race.


Perhaps I want to make a diagnosis of my students and for that reason them step some questionnaires the first day of class? Not as much. I want that they reflect. As to Coffield and cabbages in their revision say on the subject (that you can find in this connection), to think on learning styles helps to reflect to professors and students on the subject, and this way to get to know itself better.

The set of motivations and strategies is understood by learning style that we used to learn any thing. They exist more than 71 theories on learning styles. This means, mainly, that no of these theories is totally satisfactory. Nevertheless, I like to use questionnaires of Vermunt and Entwistle to push the students to the reflection. And my favorite theory (being only a fan to the psychology of the education) is the one of Entwistle.


A thing that I like of this theory: nonspeech of rigid styles, but of €œboardings€ of the learning that can vary throughout the life of the individual. It opens therefore the door to the improvement and change possibility. He is more, I believe that the boardings can even vary throughout the years that you happen studying a race, and between subjects of a same course.

He distinguishes 3 types of boarding:

  1. Superficial
  2. Strategist
  3. Deep

So that you become an idea, a €œsuperficial one€ scores stop in the scales that measure the €œLack of intention€, the €œMemorization without relation€, €œLimited the agenda€ and the €œFear to the failure€. Now it confesses€¦ who has not studied thus for a subject that hates or in that has begun to study too late?

The deep boarding is characterized to score something in the scales €œSearch of meaning€, €œRelation of ideas€, €œUse of evidence€ and €œInterest in the ideas€. Many students begin to study thus when they enter the race of his dreams, and are introducing modifications according to the results that they obtain in the examinations.

The strategic boarding (the associate with better results according to the work of Ferguson and cabbages (1)), scores stop in the scales €œorganized Study€, €œManagement of the time of study€, €œAlert to the demands in evaluations€, €œProfit€ and €œMonitoring of the effectiveness€. Speaking on this with students of different Medicine courses, many they comment that they obtain better notes when, instead of to study for knowing, they study pass. The good news is that, in addition to retaining knowledge to pass the examination, you can get to learn, enjoy the knowledge and remember for the future.

I am no expert in theories of the learning, neither in psychometry, nor in the questionnaire interpretation. I only have the conviction of which it is possible to improve to one same one as student and as apprentice of any subject that interests us in the life. Also it seems fundamental that you know to me to know itself, to accept to you as you are and you are consequent with your results in the examinations. That is to say:

  • If it give account you of which you undertake your studies of €œsuperficial€ form because you have other activities, it assumes your notes although they are bad.
  • If you want to improve your notes, you will have search strategies directed to that concrete objective.
  • If a subject you like much and you spend long time to him, not necessarily you will remove the best note, but you will have enjoyed the process.


Galileo and his phrase



  1. Ferguson and, James D, Madeley L. medical Factors associated with success in school: systematic review of the literature. BMJ. 2002 Apr 20; 324(7343): 952-7.
  2. Coffield, F, Moseley, D, Hall, and & Ecclestone, K. Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: to systematic and critical review. Learning & Skills Research Centre, 2004 (London). Accessible in http://sxills.nl/lerenlerennu/bronnen/Learning%20styles%20by%20Coffield%20e.a..pdf


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.

3 Commentaries
  • Miguel
    Published to 13:24 h, 31 January To respond

    When I entered the race I took very many crashes in the first examinations. I entered with a boarding mentality €œdepth€, but without technique and knowing how to prioritize. Since then many friendly of courses superiors repeated a phrase to me: €œYou must dedicate to you to approve, not to learn€.

    At the outset it hated that phrase and what represented, but in the end, and by pure necessity, it has been what it has governed my study the last years. There has been a pair of subjects that I have studied of superficial form, but almost all has been with €œa strategic€ boarding (to look at examinations of last years, to see that more profitable questions were etc).

    I imagine that the suitable thing would be something more similarity to the deep boarding. On the other hand, I ask myself if soon those of the UAM we have so good notes in the MIR has something to see with that they show no mercy to approve and to remove note, not learn. I removed a notable in psychiatry, and nevertheless when home the rotation I remained completely in target when she asked to the associate the psychosis definition to me or to realise a mental anamnesis.

    Something yes we have left, especially if you use techniques as spaced repetition, but often she gives the impression me that what we have left ourselves is more facing the MIR than facing our future welfare practice.

    Thanks for the entrance:).

  • Andres
    Published to 22:56 h, 31 January To respond

    Interesting Almudena, a long time ago it read your blog but had still not commented!

    Reason why I have read, I suppose that my style is the one of the deep boarding. Perhaps some ago years this type of study was more complicated and was not so profitable having presents the relation time/yield. However, to day of today with Google, it is enough with introducing the suitable key words to arrive at that pdf or Web that clarifies that dark point to you that you need to know yes or yes.

    That yes, when the time urges, amen by the examinations of previous years and Tops

    Greetings 😉

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 09:10 h, 07 February To respond

      Thank you very much to comment, Andres! The truth is that years ago also a deep student was possible being€¦ It was enough with studying by a book to embobar to you in detail interesting but that you suspected that they would not ask in the examination.
      A hug 🙂

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