Prohibited to memorise

That butcher. Not to memorise.

Before you think that there am lost the head, it continues reading, because you are going to understand it immediately.

In fact, that is the keyword in this subject: to understand.


Scott Young says, one of my referring in study techniques, that to learn of memory would have to be only a plan B to use in case of hardship. In your case, as student, €œhardship€ could mean €œexamination€.

to memorise

If you know clearly that all the data that compose a certain subject have their logical intern, his raison d'etre, you will deliver an attack to understand those layers deeper than they underlie to the pure and hard data.

For example, we take the subject from Anatomy, and as example, the anatomy of the extremity superior.

When I studied Anatomy, she irritated to me and she oppressed the abundance to me of muscles that was in any region of the body, and the forearm is a good example. But€¦ if deserts to think to us about the variety of movements that requires our arm and our hand to make the different activities of life daily, as transporting food within a stock market, handling a screwdriver or to strum a guitar, we will begin to understand the necessity of as much muscle. And we will be able to begin to not only think about muscles of the arm as a long list of loose data, but with the logic of his function.


You can use the argument of which it is impossible to discover the deep logic of a subject when you are a complete beginner in the subject. And that is truth!

In fact, the first contact with a new subject always will pretend to be unconnected and too long a collection of data. But with the successive study it will begin to acquire sense.

In an ideal world, the skillful classes, in which as much time we invested, would have to work as an introduction adapted to a new subject for the student who facilitated the later study. Unfortunately, too many professors fall victims of the slant of the expert and give too linear classes, in which they try to set out many data; or they give jumps of reasoning between concepts that stops they are not such jumps. Simply, the home student lacks a reference system with which to understand those mental jumps.

So that I will put myself in the worse one of the situations, that is to say, that one in which the student faces a completely new area of knowledge alone.


Each new subject appears as a package of arbitrary data. They are organized generally with a certain structure, and to discover that structure facilitates its assimilation to you. During the study, you begin to discover his logical intern.

Thus, the new matter appears us to our mind in this sense:

arbitrario->estructura->l³gica intern

There are subjects with abundance of apparently arbitrary data, as the Anatomy, the Pharmacology, the Biochemistry€¦ But once you begin to study them, you discover that a €œstructure€ exists in which the diverse subjects are fitted.

The structure is what Alex Chamessian and Peter Wei denominate frameworks in its Learning book Medicine. That is to say, in the case of the musculo-skeletal system, soon it give account you which each muscle demands to know these aspects: origin; insertion; function; nerve; and irrigation. In clinical subjects, each disease you must know epidemiology; cause; physiopathology; typical clinic; physical exploratory findings; findings in complementary tests; diagnoses differentials; and treatment.

Danger! If nothing else to find this structure, you try to begin to memorise, you will be investing many energies in which it lasts just a short time. In studies of Ebbinghaus one was that to the 24 hours we remembered only 40% of studying, and a 25% to the 5 days. This would force to us to review everything frequently what to memorise on a daily basis, and is an almost impossible task. Although yes it is possible to make it with an organized system and a software of review, but that is subject of another post.

Therefore, he is more rational and funny to invest ours first efforts in finding the logical intern of a new subject. Thus, if the sequence of presentation of new subjects to our mind is arbitrario>estructura>l³gica internal, our boarding of study would have to be the search of:

1º logical intern; 2º structure; and 3º memorization of arbitrary data.

Also this form is more natural to study with a view to your future activity as doctor or nurse or psychologist: to study when already you are working consists mainly of understanding and adding new knowledge to our mental structure of knowledge of our profession. But it is not necessary to memorise arbitrary data, since we can consult them in external data bases. But, unfortunately, while you are student you must demonstrate to your knowledge turning over this one in diverse types of examination. We follow then.


We have shelp that the first contact with a new subject looks like to open a package of dispersed data. How to come near to them: 1º reading of the index 2º contaje of pages 3º reading stopped with the center put in obtaining one first impression of the composition of the subject.

This first contact also is realised in the skillful classes.

With the reading of the Index they are discovered connections between terms and a structure, that is the reflection of how the first experts learned to systematize their findings.

A practical example

In the Anatomy, following with the example of the extremity superior, we can be distributing the data in diverse groups. Those that we need. Thus, we do not have why to organize the study in our mind with the scheme of the book, that can consist of dividing each muscle group in those of the deep plane and the superficial plane.

We can group our muscle study that abduces the arm versus muscles that approximate it to the trunk (essential to avoid that our brother tickles to us, for example). Muscles that the culturist when removing uses biceps in a competition. Muscles that flexionan the palm and fingers and allow us to load with the bags of the supermarket. And so on.

When you deepen, it give account you of which the muscles are defined by terms that allude, (a) well to their origin and insertion (coracobrachialis muscle); (b) its function (elevating of the scapula); (c) its form (triceps); (d) its situation (subclavio).

Of this form, if you have learned all the series of more or less arbitrary terms with which one names to the bones and his prominences, on that you will be able to construct your learning of muscles. Muscle coracobrachialis muscle, wide ridge, biceps, triceps€¦

To this it would have to be dedicated what we called €œto study to the day€. That that so many we have wished and so not very often we have obtained. Therefore, we give the term €œto study to the day€, a new sense: you are not going to become bored with strings of arbitrary data, but you are going to investigate the logic that underlies to each new subject.

You are going to try to understand the soul of the subject. You are not going to read the cardiac arrhythmias linearly, but you are going to investigate why they are catalogued as they are catalogued, and why they take place, and how you could dedudirlas with an anatomical scheme of the cardiac inervaci³n in front of you. That is your daily work.


€¦ Then the moment has arrived for memorising. Or to request help to the friendly. It tries that they explain the logical intern to you that is shortage in a subject that is to you especially thick.

You will be with that it will be much more easy to memorise that one whose logical intern already you investigated in previous sessions of study. If it is not thus€¦

€¦ always we will have left the ground one last minute (cramming of the Anglo-Saxons), extremely effective to pass examinations, although it does not stop to conserve memories in the long term. But the necessity forces.



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.

17 Commentaries
  • Natalia
    Published to 08:50 h, 18 January To respond

    As you say, to understand a subject is the best way to really learn a subject. I myself I have been able it to experiment with endocrine, subject that hated over and over again until a day I stopped myself to understand why of each pathology based on its hormonal alteration and€¦ Voil , right now endocrine seems to me fascinating.

    Nevertheless, the educative system of nowadays (at least in my university) is based on examining of €œa to see to us how many of the absurd and arbitrary data you have learned yourself in comparison with your companions€, reason why the method of optimal study is simply to know random data, although you do not have nor idea of the pathology (proof of this is that there is people that pass, and with good note, simply learning of memory questions of other years that is little or anything representative of the pathologies of the subject).

    We hope that the university professors begin search a more clinical approach and of real knowledge so that all we learn much more and we enjoy more this so beautiful race that, sometimes, it seems a hell.

    A greeting!

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 12:24 h, 18 January To respond

      Good, the method of optimal study depends on what you want to obtain in the mid term.
      If you only want pass, it can serve to you to memorise to last hour, but only if you have the luck of which questions are repeated or that the examination badly is raised. Because if an examination well is written, it will not be enough to you with remembering loose concepts.
      If in addition to pass you like to learn, then he is recommendable that you study in time and looking for understanding.
      The truth is that this subject to write up examinations for Medicine has more crumb of the one than it seems. In the USA there is an organism (National Board of Medical Examiners) that is in charge to train professors and to supervise that the examinations well are written up and measure the capacities correctly to remember data and in addition the application to the knowledge. I do not know if something similar in Spain or other European countries exists.

      Thanks to comment 🙂

  • Margaret
    Published to 19:17 h, 29 April To respond

    Beforehand I must congratulate to him by excellent entrance.

    On the other hand, in the university that study the Medicine professors are only based on the memorization of arbitrary data, and this partly is frustrating because I am not very good here memorising or as tenth in my country €œbottling€ arbitrary data, nevertheless yes occurs that of the analysis and logic me, although lately I have decayed a little in that sense and of certain form I believe mainly that there am lost great part of my capacity to use the logic, when is matters by ex. Anatomy that you also mentioned as example. Yes I would like to know what technical I can use to memorise arbitrary data of fast and effective form, but simultaneously I would like to know what methods I can use to improve my capacities of logical intern.

    I am new in its blog and until now everything what I have read seems to me of wonder, seems to me of much help.

    Greetings from Dominican Republic! 🙂

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 16:43 h, 01 May To respond

      Good question€¦ The truth is that in the first Medicine courses there is much to memorise, many apparently arbitrary words new and concepts and processes. That anatomical and physiological base will serve you to deduce and to reason more ahead, in the clinical subjects. But now it is called on to you €œto bottle€.

      The key to facilitate the memorization in Anatomy is to use all the sensorial modalities that you can. The initial descriptions are verbal with visual support. It is of much help to reproduce anatomical schemes drawing them you yourself, and for this it is not necessary to be good sketcher. To draw up lines helps you to internalise. Another trick that works when it does not occur you or to memorise visually is to imagine you yourself to you as the structure that you want to learn, and to visualize the anatomical relations as if you yourself you were the blood vessel that these studying, or the muscle or set of muscles.

      If a manual or atlas is to you confused, it reviews different books, all that you can. The slightly different schemes in each book can help you to understand doubtful points.

      Thanks to happen through the blog and to pose doubts 🙂

      • Andres
        Published to 23:12 h, 01 April To respond

        me this passing the same exactly, at the point of which I have gotten to estresar too much by simplemete not to give to me with the key to memorise all those arbitrary data, €œbottles€, to pass happy examinations of anatomy for example€¦

        Like Margaret, with who I share country, I am good in a matter of logics but that very badly occurs me to learn data to me of arbitrary way€¦ Really not that to do. On the other hand I was reading and recently there am shortage that my personality introvert podria to have something to see.

        Greetings, I like much your entrance.

  • Alexander
    Published to 00:57 h, 17 January To respond

    Good night Almudena. I am in 3o of Medicine and your blog enchants to me, I hallucinate yet what you know and the passion that you demonstrate in each entrance, more sincere my congratulations.
    I usually I simultaneously make all these steps, according to I am understanding the subject am learned the same, really I am incapable to learn something to me that I do not understand.
    Much by the Medicine classrooms is heard the phrase €œI I do not learn ANYTHING of memory, I I only reason€. , This really seems somewhat false to me because I understand all the aspects of a subject as for example the atherosclerosis, but I do not retain the mechanisms that produce it the day of the examination I will be totally lost and will not know to answer it: You don't create?
    A greeting.

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 19:16 h, 18 January To respond

      Thank you very much to follow the blog and to write, Alexander!

      , Indeed often tenth or we heard say that in tal o cual subject €œI only reason€. In fact I believe that she is due to the mirage of which, while we are trying to understand something, we are memorising small concepts without almost realizing, until at a certain time they seem totally logical and integrated in a ampler concept. From 2º or 3º you dominate to the concept of cholesterol and lipoproteins, but the first day that you studied it you had to read several times the listing of high-density lipoproteins, low density, very low density, etc€¦ with its corresponding abbreviations in English. In a pair of hours all that regroups in an integrated concept ampler, but than it has taken awhile of your work of study.

      Obvious there are piles of concepts that cannot be deduced of any site, and that there is to memorise yes or yes. This entrance which wanted to emphasize is that, the more you crush the understanding of a subject, the more easily will form the mega-concepts and the more solid it will be the memorization.

      A greeting and until soon 🙂

    Published to 13:51 h, 30 May To respond

    A question, as you consider that they are the Medicine matters, that require but literal text memorization exactly, that is to say (alcaletra), and that would perish you for those matters, books of this style audio. Greetings

  • Alvaro V¡squez
    Published to 00:40 h, 25 March To respond

    Hello, I understand fully what you indicate. Clearly it is that it is not possible to be denied that there are matters in which the memorization is inevitable and is that it is due to that its content is in its majority of pure data in which the reasoning and understanding are leftover. For instance, a few months ago we reviewed the pharmacology of the SNA. it is worth to say, woven associate to certain receivers, which are not few and although the mechanism behind a certain therapeutic effect is understood the important thing is to stress what is the involved receiver (that becomes a headache when already there are more than ten implied zones) to have well-taken care of with the interactions.
    It is not of saying more than after a time, as much my companions as I, forgot the great majority it and had to return to review to fill up all the lagoons.
    It is a fact that to include the matter jeopardizes to remember great part of her. Despite the meticulous data they escape.
    And it is that to memorise bush the passion to learn, cannot be avoided, is necessary to be accustomed.

  • Carlos V¡zquez
    Published to 22:23 h, 27 September To respond

    Good afternoon Almudena
    I am new in your blog and what it meant to you it is that I am studying anatomy in nascent way because I want to go next year to medicine because everything of her enchants to me but my doubt is that in fact I must learn everything literally? for example of arteries and veins it is a pile and I lose myself with so many names. Some advice to learn all that to me or to tell me what in truth I need to know how to go preparation and that one does not become difficult to me?
    Beforehand thank you very much to read my commentary and would wish that it helped me with the doubt that I have

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 09:45 h, 31 December To respond

      Hello, Carlos,

      If you are home to learn Anatomy facing the following course, I recommend to you that you avoid to learn the branches to you is to them more. He is better to begin with a level of smaller detail, and to know well clearly the main arteries, that to try to memorise the details with as much advance. He is since a driver or a taxi driver would do who arrived new at your city: you would not recommend to him that street by street began to learn itself from the corner the northwest, but first would learn the global structure of the city, its main avenues, where are the most important buildings, how the different districts are called/districts, etc.

  • Maria Lorena Garcieras
    Published to 21:14 h, 08 January To respond

    Hello, Almudena: Thanks to share of your experience and knowledge, like the other boys I have seen myself with those problems to include and to find the root of €œas it works€, in my case I am studying Physiotherapy, and with which I battle more is TO BEGIN, never by where to begin, everything has priority and importance, but at the end of the day I give priority him to the heaviest matters, but I remain with a great emptiness when not knowing what I require to know, is as swallowing the food without savoring it, as soon as I found your blog and it goes to me to be very useful to follow with my studies.

    Greetings, I am called Lorraine

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 19:29 h, 17 February To respond

      Thank you very much, Lorraine. I really hope that it helps you much, 🙂

  • Giulia
    Published to 14:06 h, 16 February To respond


  • Diego

    Published to 08:53 h, 13 May

    • To respond
      Hello Almudena. I am in sixth of race and, although one assumes that how to study, not to study.

      I explain myself. I always have studied to memorise because thus she was as they taught to me in secondary (subjects type Literature, for example). When entering medicine I followed with the method that had worked to me and I was approving, but always I must myself put to memorise the agenda months before the examination and go very pillaged (in the end even of the subjects that studies memory at the outset to me some brush-strokes).

      I am in my last examinations and have had several fat crises of anxiety. With the TFG and that in this course the semesters are shorter me the agenda has thrown above because to memorise it has been long time (a 2-3 average hours by subject) and I see that it surpasses to me.

      I write to you because that my method of study is not adapted and, face to the recoveries, to even repeat course or to the MIR, reason why I need to solve this.

That you recommend to me? Have to read and to read the agenda (understanding it, clearly) and once finished it home again?

Published to 17:17 h, 14 May

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