5 Mistakes First Year Students Make

Top 5 Mistakes First Year Medical Students Make

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You made it into medical school! Congrats! But now what mistakes should first year medical students avoid at all cost?

In this post, I will go over the top mistakes made by first year medical students (including myself when I was in your shoes).

5 Mistakes First Year Med Students

1. They Come in With a Predetermined Mindset:

This is by far the worst I see first year medical students make. Makes sense to put it number one.

Often these students are labeled as gunners, but that’s not fair.

Instead, I think them as negative consumed by their goals.

They want that competitive specialty – nothing wrong with that.

But they use their high achieving goal as an excuse from enjoying medical school.

“Sorry I can’t come out on a Friday night. I’m studying for my our test in 4 weeks.”

“Oh, intramural basketball? Nah I rather read about a disease with a 0.001% prevalence in case it shows up on the test.”

These are obvious exaggerations, but not far from the truth.

Please don’t be the student who comes in saying they want to become a dermatologist/orthopedic /plastic surgeon and will do nothing except study.

Yes, you will have to work hard for these awesome goals.

But don’t let them cost you an enjoyable medical school experience.

You can achieve specialty of your dream without sacrificing your sanity. Some of the smartest and high achieving students I know are also the most well-rounded.

Don’t let your predetermined goals dictate how you enjoy medical school.

2. They Spend Excessive Time on Passive Techniques:

I talked about this on one of my first articles – How to Study Less and Make Better Grades.

I was one of these students. I spent 60-80% of my time using passive techniques such as reading the material through reading, taking notes, and watching the lecture.

Then I would spend whatever time I had left to test myself.

Being an average test taker, I quickly learned this 60/40 split wasn’t going to work out.

So I managed to create a study method which worked for me.

I went from 60% passive methods to 10%. That gave allowed me to spend most of my time doing practice questions and flashcards.

What happened to my grade? They skyrocketed!

What happened to my free time? Also skyrocketed!

I kept getting asked if I “Was even in medical school?” That’s when you know you’ve found a technique which works.

Check out my step-by-step technique in this blog post and the YouTube video below.

To save you some time I’ve also created a free guide with a step-by-step approach.

How to Study in Medical School - Step-By-Step Guide

Hopefully, this technique will help a few of you out!

Speaking of, here are some other articles for first year medical students which also may help you out:

How to Study Less in Medical School and Make Higher Grades
Studying in Medical School No More Than 5 Hours A Day
Tips for The First Year of Medical School
Surviving the First Year of Medical School

3. They Schedule Their Lives into Medical School:

My favorite line I’ve come up with on TheMDJourney is “To Schedule Med School Into Your Life and Not Your Life Into Med School.”

I know it’s easier said than done. But that is one of the core purposes of this blog – to help you learn how to do that.

One tip I love is to schedule your fun first.


Schedule your hobbies, family time, TV shows, etc. before your study time.

Don’t get carried away now. Try to fit 1-2 fun things every day.

For some of you that may be a workout or run. For others, it may simply mean dinner with your family.

But schedule them before your study time.

Two things happen when you make this switch.

One, your hobbies remain a part of your life.

Two, you force yourself to become more efficient when you study. You can’t waste time anymore because you have purposely scheduled less of it.

Thus you get rid of the crap that doesn’t help your retention and final grade.

The final result is a first year medical student who continues to enjoy their passions and manages to get their studying in as well.

4. They Listen Too Much To Their Classmates:

I love my classmates, but sometimes they’re the last people I want to be near.

Especially before test time, forget it.

I’ll have headphones in my ear, take a different route to the testing center; whatever it takes to avoid the stress.

Being around smart people is a blessing and curse at the same time.

They will push, inspire, and encourage you to do more.

But they will also stress you the hell out because they want that ‘A’ as bad (if not more) than you!

So take the stress of all your classmates with a grain of salt.

If your classmate is freaking out about the upcoming final, use their stress as motivation to focus when you study – but nothing more.

5. Don’t Wear Your Stress on Your Sleeves:

Stressful and anxious first year medical students can become a real emotional drag. Don’t be one of them.

It’s completely fine to confess your stress about an upcoming test to your friends and peers.

But do it in moderation.

The same way we’d appreciate our classmates to not yell “wolf” as an exam approaches, they’d appreciate the same from you.

Bonus Mistake: Don’t Talk About Medical School All The Time

This is a big one that I struggled with.

When you’re around your med school peers so often, the only topic on the table seems to be medical school.

Try your best not to let this conversation start before it spreads.

Enjoy talking about sports, pop culture, nonmedical news, etc.

You’ll feel saner if you can escape medical school popping its nosey self in every conversation.

There you have it.

If you’re a first year medical student and you’re doing one of the following – stop it (I say this with love of course).

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post!

Again if you want to check out the step-by-step study method, click this link to get my free guide.

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 article then you may also enjoy the following:

Tips For Your First Year of Medical School
How Hard Is Medical School?
How to Regain Motivation in Medical School?
Acing The Second Year of Med School Pt 1
Acing The Second Year of Med School Pt 2

Having A Job In Medical School [Is It Possible?]

Thanks for reading my friends!

I’ll catch you in the next post!

Until next time…

11 thoughts on “Top 5 Mistakes First Year Medical Students Make”

  1. I wish i’ve read this before you’ve said it all… The same mistakes we do them in all the world like we have something in commun as medical students we stress too much we feel like we are not enough we doubt ourselves and then we do what you’ve mentioned but fortunately we discover our faults and we start dealing with it until we somehow found out a balance between our personal life and our medical life

  2. Indeed a useful post about medical mistakes, It’s best to learn from other’s mistakes than to feel the urge to commit one by oneself & then think of learning. I think we’ve all made some of these mistakes to some degree or another. Thanks for sharing here.

  3. This is a good thing. This is positive. This is the best advice I’ve received. I was in need of this type of advice. Thank you for your practical tips.

    I’d like to have had a look before you’ve spoken about it. As medical students, we are too stressed and we believe we’re not enough. But then we find our flaws and then we deal with it until we figure out the balance between our private life and our medical lives.

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