How Many Hours Do Medical Students Study

How Many Hours Do Medical Students Study? [Real Data]

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Among other inquiries about this worthwhile venture in life, up-and-coming med school freshmen may be wondering, “How many hours do medical students study?” After all, pre-med is quite the challenge, but it is no doubt fulfilling. It helps to take on the next step with a general idea of what to expect.

In this article, I’ll give you a rundown of how many hours medical students study. This way, you can plan your weekly schedules on the first day of freshman year.

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How Many Hours Do Medical Students Study?

Before we average how much time you ought to dedicate to studying, I would probably be correct to assume that you may be thinking about the number of days in an average school year. That way, you might be able to extrapolate the number of days you need to spend studying and rest on breaks.

Well, before your first day of medical school, you should know that school breaks aren’t actually “breaks” for the most part. Much of your time spent during breaks, weekends, and national holidays will probably be dedicated to school-related activities.

That’s right — medical school is a year-long commitment for at least four years. But I can assure you it’s a rewarding one.

On Regular Days

Let’s assume you’ll spend the entire year studying. Based on a recent study, medical students, on average, spend three to four hours daily.

If statistics interest you, that means you’ll likely be studying for about:

  • 21 – 28 hours a week;
  • 90 – 120 hours a month, and;
  • 1,095 – 1,460 hours a year.

Of course, you should still set whatever pace works for you. Who knows? You might find yourself highly motivated to put in more effort, or you may want to tone it down for that much-needed self-care depending on the day/s.

Either way, as long as there’s that will and dedication, it can make the journey to that MD title more streamlined.

During Examination Periods

It can go without saying that after many years in school before reaching medical school, you’re likely more accustomed to doubling your study efforts during exams.

If you base on the previously mentioned average estimate, you may be looking at and possibly planning 6-8 hours.

Interestingly, a similar study found that medical students can spend about 10.6 hours during exam periods.

While it can be admirable to put in this much work on highly essential exam weeks, it still depends on how much workload you’re able to handle. As such, here’s the usual reminder to work smart, not just hard.

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How Many Hours Do Top Medical Students Study?

For those out there aiming to reach the top ranks, it’s best to remember that you’ll have to put in more work for goals like these. That, of course, equates to more time spent hitting the books.

In another study, successful or better-performing students, on average, will dedicate six to eight hours daily to studying.

If you want to be among the top-performing students, you can expect to be studying for about:

  • 42 – 56 hours a week;
  • 180 – 240 hours a month, and;
  • 2,190 – 2,920 hours a year.

It should go without saying that in addition to putting in this much hard work and effort, it’s best to couple this time spent with good study habits. After all, practicing good habits can be an effective way to make the most of your study time, keep your grades up, and retain all the information you’ve learned.

P.S. Now, there are some big differences between being a medical student and being a doctor. Make sure you know these before continuing on your medical journey: Medical Student Vs. Doctor [Biggest Differences]

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Here are frequently asked questions about studying for medical school:

What Kind Of Study Habits Should I Adopt To Put My Study Hours To Good Use?

As stated previously, pairing study time with practical study habits can help you truly reap its benefits regardless of how long you plan to make one session.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure those hours spent don’t go to waste.

Don’t Cram

This one should be obvious, but let’s admit we’ve been guilty of cramming at some point during our school years. This is something you might want to consider minimizing as much as you can.

After all, you’ve probably either already entered or are about to enter medical school, knowing fully well the demands such an endeavor requires.

Sure, old habits die hard, but taking small steps to incorporate discipline into your study routine can put you on the right track.

Review Lectures On The Same Day They Are Given

This can be given if you plan to study at least three to four hours a day. Consciously incorporating this habit can help you better retain fresh information.

If you’re interested in the technicalities involved in the incorporation of good study habits, the term “forgetting curve” can be useful information for you.

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the forgetting curve in the 19th century.

In a nutshell, the term refers to the rate that can determine how memory retention declines over time. As such, to keep important information, it’s essential to find ways to retain it so you don’t end up forgetting it completely.

This brings us back to the importance of consistently reviewing the material. 

It’s safe to say that it could be effective to review your lectures on the exact day they are given. When taking the forgetting curve into account, making it a habit to do this after new lectures and maintaining this practice can help all the information stick.

Moreover, reviewing lecture notes on the same day allows you to have fresh memories of lecture topics that you may not have been able to write down when taking notes earlier. Therefore, it’s an opportunity to complete your lecture notes, assuming your memory of it remains fresh.

In addition, this practice may reveal topics that you might not fully comprehend in retrospect. Reviewing lectures on the same day they are given gives you a chance to ask for help understanding the subject matter as early as possible so you don’t end up confused during highly crucial examination periods.

more efficient way to study - Broken

Limit The Use Of Outside Material

This one may be a matter of debate, but a previously mentioned study found that more successful students were more likely to sparingly make use of outside sources while focusing more on their in-school lectures.

Sure, outside material can help shine a light on things that seem unclear to you, but perhaps it’s better not to rely too much on them for a successful outcome.

Still, whichever works for you and your routine can surely make studying sessions more streamlined and prepared for actual practice.

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

How Can I Balance My Study Time With Clinical Rotations?

As you already know by now, medical school isn’t purely academics. You’ll have to put everything you’ve learned into practice before you graduate and begin residency. This takes place in the form of clinical years, which usually begin by the third year.

That means you’ll have to balance time spent doing clinical duties alongside studying for tests and exams.

Here are a few tips to make your clinical years a smoother experience.

Practice Time Management

Knowing how to split your time between hospital duties and studying may pose some challenges, but the success of many medical practitioners proves that this isn’t impossible.

As stated previously, much of your free time will be spent hitting the books. In this case, whenever you have breaks during clinical rotations, make the most of them by studying and reviewing lectures.

That way, you can still be fully prepared for important exams while fulfilling your roles in the hospital.

It’s also worth noting that during your clinical years, you’re still a student first. Thus, you have comparatively fewer major responsibilities than residents or attending physicians.

Your role during clinical rotations will, for the most part, consist of learning as much as you’re able to when putting your gained knowledge into practice.

Seize The Opportunity To Learn When Dealing With Patients

Not only are clinical rotations a means of putting your knowledge into real-world practice but, like every hands-on, immersive academic requirement, they can also be opportunities to enhance the knowledge you already have.

As a medical student, you’ll likely be spending more time with individual patients than at any other point in your medical career. Aside from being a wonderful opportunity to establish rapport with patients, you can also develop professional skills and bedside manners.

Not only that, but you’ll also be able to sharpen your medical knowledge as you familiarize yourself with the patients’ health issues more thoroughly.

Immersing yourself in each patient’s medical history, such as comorbidities, medications, and presenting diseases, can provide good opportunities to review, study further, and build up your medical expertise.

There’s a good probability that the cases of patients you’ll be handling might refresh your memory on essential topics and lecture discussions that may be covered during examination periods.

There’s also a chance you’ll stumble upon new information, which can be very useful during academic endeavors.

Make Self-Care A Priority

Everyone needs much-needed break times to perform their best. At this point, you already know that burnout is one thing that can hinder professional success.

Even when dedicating most of your time to clinical rotations and general academics, you need to find time to unwind a bit to prevent overexerting yourself. You are still human, after all.

Practicing healthy habits when you’re not studying or in the hospital keeps your mind sharp and your body well-equipped to take on the everyday challenges a medical student faces during their career.

man in blue t-shirt and black shorts with hiking backpack walking on rocky mountain during

Would I Still Have Time To Pursue Extracurricular Activities In Medical School?

Of course! Despite the commitment and study demands of medical school, you can still squeeze in some extracurricular or out-of-school activities while studying.

Extracurriculars may help increase your chances of getting into a good residency program that you wish to pursue.

Again, this all boils down to good time management skills. Don’t spread yourself too thin with more commitments than you can handle.

Also, it’s worth mentioning quality will always matter over quantity.

Should you pursue extracurriculars, it may be tempting to sign up for multiple activities to stand out when applying for residency programs.

However, it’s all about your performance in said endeavors rather than how many of them you can attempt to juggle. It’s easier to show great dedication to a few activities than it is to join as many as possible in an attempt to impress yet put in the bare minimum.

Choose extracurriculars that you’re genuinely interested in. After all, passion can be a good motivator to put your best foot forward.

Also, remember that you’re a student first-hand. So when you find an activity or a few that genuinely piques your interest, see to it that your commitment is flexible enough so you can devote more of your time to academics.

That said, there are a few suggested activities that complement your field of study and can help you develop as a medical student.

Activities dealing with research and volunteering will provide ample experience to help you navigate a hospital/clinic setting. There are even extracurricular activities within the clinical field, such as shadowing physicians, and part in free-run clinics, among others, that can look good on a CV.

Still, there’s no shame in joining activities that aren’t related to medicine if they help you unwind when you’re not studying or doing clinical rotations. A variety of commitments can also help build your character when applying to residency programs. 

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

How many hours do medical students study? There are plenty of ways you can study for med school, but one thing’s for sure — it all depends on your ability to balance things out. As long as you can squeeze in academics and extracurriculars without compromising your well-being, you’ll have a good jump-start at the beginning of your medical career.

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

2. The Med School BlueprintJoin the hundreds of students who have used our A-Z blueprint and playbook for EVERY phase of the medical journey so you can start to see grades like these. 

3. Med Ignite Study ProgramGet personalized help to create the perfect study system for yourself so you can see better grades ASAP on your medical journey & see results like these. 

4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

If you enjoyed this post, check out our other blog posts that can help you with your medical school journey.

Until the next one, my friend…

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