how to study with bad lectures and still get good grades

How To Study With Bad Lectures & Still Get Good Grades

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Have you ever gone to a lecture excited to do some learning only to have a professor who makes you want to pull your hair out? We all have. Well, in this article, we’re going to talk about exactly how to study with bad lectures and still get good grades.

Let’s get into it!

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

And just as a quick reminder, if you want better grades and not quite getting them just yet, then check out our free study course, the Study Rehab Course, which breaks down the three steps that you’ll need to get more free time and better grades. If you’re interested, go ahead and click here.

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Step #1: Evaluate Your Options

One of the most stressful situations you can have in medical school or in any academic setting is to have a professor that just flat out sucks. And so today we’re going to break down exactly what you can do to overcome that bad lecture and still get the grades you always wanted.

Step number one is to evaluate your options.

Whenever I’m working with a student one on one and they tell me that the lectures are so bad that they don’t know to use them, the first few questions I ask them are:

Do you even have to go to the lecture?

Is that a required part of your grade or your attendance?

Or if you have online lectures, do you still have to show up and log in?

If your answer is yes, then we’ll talk about a few strategies you can do to better prepare yourself for a bad lecture. So you can still get all the information that you need from the actual material.

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Question number two that I ask students is:

How important is the lecture to doing well on the quizzes and exams?

Now, there is easily a spectrum of answers to those questions. On one side, a student may say that the lecture is terrible, so are the slides, and so is the syllabus. And we have to use external resources to even have a chance of doing well on the quizzes and tests.

But on the other end, a student may say that the material is not comprehensive. Thus, they have to go to lecture because sometimes what the professor says actually ends up showing up on the quizzes and tests.

how to get into medical school with a low gpa (4)

Step #2: High-yield Resource And Stacking Technique

Step number two is a high yield resource plus or minus a stacking technique.

Decide on where you are:

  1. You may be someone who doesn’t have to go to class and the lecture material is not that useful for the final quizzes.
  2. On the other end, you may be required to go to class, or there is material covered in the lecture that is not presented elsewhere.

If you’re the first one, you can just use the high yield resource. If you’re the second, you can do a high yield resource plus a stacking technique. So let’s break down each one.

High-yield Resource

Even with a good lecture, it’s very hard to know what’s important and what’s not. Most of us have a tendency of trying to remember every single detail and high-yield point at the same time. And we’re really just confused at the end of it.

And then once you throw in a terrible lecture to that equation, it’s just a disaster. And that’s why using a high-yield resource can help you delineate important from trivial details even from a bad lecture.

Now, to highlight how to effectively use a high yield resource, I’m going to focus on those students who have to go to class and/or there’s a material from the lecture that is fair game.

You can just use the high yield resource and not have to do what we call a stacking technique.

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Now, let’s see how to effectively use high-yield resources.

The first thing that I would recommend to a student is to know what topics they will be covering the next day or throughout the week by looking through the syllabus chapters or PowerPoint or whatever schedule your class or institution may give you.

And then you can transition to one or more resources that cover the topics and view them at least the night before. So then you’re ready for class the next day.

So for example, you know the topics that you will be covering for the next day’s lecture. You can find related videos and use them as your high-yield resource. You will then watch them the evening before the lecture.

And during this pre-reading or pre-watching session, your main goal is to absorb concepts and ideas as much as possible without stressing yourself out. That is because your ultimate goal is to go to the lecture the next day and pick out ideas that you have read or heard from the high-yield resource.



And if you’re wondering what high-yield resources you could possibly use, then I would highly recommend Picmonic. You can use Picmonic whether you are in medical school, nursing, pharmacy, or any medical journey.

There are lots of videos to help you do what we’re talking about in this article, which is to help you quickly prepare for lecture, especially a bad lecture.

And let’s say you are taking a class that has a tendency of being very difficult, such as microbiology, you can simply use Picmonic’s library, go to the microbiology section, and find relevant videos.

So if I will be having a lecture tomorrow about Staph aureus, which is a really common bug that you have to learn as a future medical professional. But you know the lecture is terrible, or the slides look super confusing. I can go to Picmonic and find various high-yield lessons and videos that are relevant to that topic.

You can go into Picmonic and watch entertaining videos that have images and a story to help you learn about Staph aureus. It’s not only for the lecture the next day but for the long term.

sample picmonic video

And one of my favorite things about Picmonic videos is that they are very time efficient. For example, you can find 2-minute videos. You can quickly watch them and also quickly answer a quiz to see how you retained the concepts before you even go to lecture the next day.

And with literally hundreds and hundreds of videos on any topic you’ll need on your medical journey, Picmonic is a great resource for any student who’s struggling and wants all the needed information in one resource.

So once again, if you’re on your medical journey and if you’re looking for that all-in-one resource to help you improve your study, that’s both time-efficient and helps you learn and quiz yourself, definitely consider checking out Picmonic.

And if you’re interested in giving Picmonic a try, just click this link and use the code: THEMDJOURNEY  at checkout. Our friends at Picmonic have also nicely included an extra 20% off for all of our readers. 

Get your 20% discount on Picmonic here.

Now, whatever resource you choose is completely up to you. Whether it’s an all-in-one resource like Picmonic, free tools such as YouTube videos, or other resources in the medical field, learn as much as you can.

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Stacking Technique

Once you have your high yield resource, let’s talk about the stacking technique.

The stacking technique is one of my favorite things that I recommend to students, especially my one-on-one students. They ask me what they can do to do well in class despite having bad lectures.

What I tell them is that once they know their high-yield or go-to resource, the first thing to do is to figure out all the topics for the next weeks. In this way, they can find those topics on their high-yield resource and expedite their learning.

Also, if your high yield resource doesn’t have it, you know that you have to look elsewhere.

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So as a quick example, let’s say I am taking microbiology and my lectures are terrible. I can quickly go through my syllabus, course outline, or lecture slides, and determine the different bugs I should be learning. Then I’ll find relevant videos from an all-in-one resource or through YouTube videos.

Throughout the week and the night before the actual lecture, I will designate a specific time where I’m going to watch those videos over the span of about 20 to 30 minutes so that it’s not overwhelming. My main goal is to try to obtain as much as I can without making it overwhelming.

So either I can passively listen, or I can write notes down, or I can use a tool. I just have to do the quizzes afterward and check if I get the gist of the topic. If that’s the case, then I can go to the lecture to mainly pay attention to what type of things were covered in the high-yield material.

keys to studying with Anki

And the last part of the stacking technique is when I go home and review my notes or whatever technique I’m using, I will go back to those videos or quizzes in my all-in-one resource and do them again. Just to have a sandwich approach.

Using this strategy, you can easily identify what’s important and what is included in the lecture that is actually high-yield. Going back to the high-yield resource after the lecture solidifies the knowledge for long-term retention.

And yes, this does require a little bit of backward planning where you have to look ahead to make sure you have the material ready the night before.

But I argue that it’s much less stressful than going through three hours of lecture and saying that was utterly useless and saying that you are still confused.

Step 1 Resources - how to use physeo

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Step #3: Include Practice Questions In Your Daily Studying

In addition to steps one and two on how to prepare for a bad lecture is to include practice questions in your daily study.

Even if your lectures are amazing, I’m definitely a big proponent of doing some kind of questions on a daily basis throughout the week.

And if your lectures are bad, have practice questions from one high-yield resource. It can be from your all-in-one resource like Picmonic or any other resource that has questions.

Doing them on a daily basis helps you understand the topics better. Not only do you get to practice answering those questions, but you also start to get how all this information is connected.

study schedule for Step 1 how do i study for step 1 before dedicated

You may be a student who can remember facts, but struggle once asked about how everything is interrelated. You might be having a hard time with second-order and third-order questions.

If that’s your issue, definitely start including practice questions in addition to the stacking technique that we talked about earlier.

And if you want recommendations about my favorite sources and practice questions, watch this video that I did on my favorite Step 1 question banks: Best Question Banks For Step 1 And How To Use Them For 250+

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). 

And as always my friends, thank you for being a part of my journey.

Hopefully, I was a little help to you guys on your own journey.

If you enjoyed this article, definitely check out these other articles right here!

And I’ll see you guys in the next one…

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