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Anatomy and Physiology is one of those classes that almost any science major or anyone on track to the healthcare field or just anyone interested in the body and how it works will want to/have to take. Now the body is a very complex system and so this class can seem intimidating and challenging at first. Here are a few tips that were very helpful to my success in this class.
1. Go to class and actively take notes.
This is so, so helpful not only in A & P but in any class that you take. Actively taking notes allows your brain to be using and processing information and although this may seem like more than you’ll ever remember at first, you’d be surprised at how much your brain can recall just from simply doing this exercise.
2. Reorganize your notes.
Like step 1, this is important for any college class, not just A & P. In my particular Anatomy and Physiology class, I found the class PowerPoints hard to follow. They were extremely long and felt almost endless. With so much information, it could be easy to look at initially and immediately feel stressed. However, I found that by going through the slides on my own, a lot of information could be put together and organized into a way that flowed better (lists, flowcharts), felt more precise, and overall made more sense. Also by organizing the information into my own notes, it gave me more confidence to be able to tackle the topic with full understanding. Even by rewriting your notes in different colored pens or highlighter can help your brain separate different concepts!
3. Draw pictures.
In a class like Anatomy and Physiology, we are talking about the HUMAN BODY. Unlike physics where everything is abstract, the human body is a known object and can be visualized. By associating processes that occur in the body (physiology) with images where those processes take place (anatomy), it is easier to make sense of how and why certain processes happen. Actively drawing out the pictures, even if copied from your professor’s slide or your textbook, allows your brain to organize and associate these processes and therefore hopefully remember and understand them.
4. Find a partner/ study group and TALK IT OUT.
Okay, this is probably the most successful study habit I have picked up in college—talking out information with other people. After each individual has reviewed the information on their own and has a rough idea of the processes, get together, find an open place, and go through these together. In these study groups, I tend to find myself being the talker, going over the information and teaching it in a way that makes sense to me. Sometimes teaching other people a concept is the best way to understand it for yourself. Others add into the conversation how they think about and learned the same topic. Sometimes the way others think is a way you never would have thought about it and helps the idea stick in your head better—I had a study group like this and it was such a key to the entire group’s success in the class. One of my friends actually made the A & P class a pass/fail because she changed her major mid-semester so the class did not really “matter” for her new path (I put the word “matter” in quotes, however, because I feel anatomy and physiology is important for anyone to know for their everyday life). Anyways though, anatomy is one of those classes where even turning it pass/fail, you still have to put in effort to get a passing grade. She would come to our study groups and just be a listener as my other classmates and I talked out each and every process. However, she said she learned enough from actively listening to these study groups to get the grades she needed to pass the class (and pass with a good grade) without much effort otherwise. Now imagine that with all the additional effort you put in if you followed the first three steps too!! AMAZING RESULTS
5. Take advantage of Quizlet.
If you’ve never heard of Quizlet. It is an amazing online tool to make your own flash cards (it’s free too)!! What I love about Quizlet for anatomy is that you have the ability to put a term on one side of the flash card and a picture on the other. This is so, so, so helpful when studying for exams because you can use the picture side to guess whatever muscle/bone/origin/insertion. The app also has a learn feature where it quizzes you on these terms a few at a time. This is helpful because sometimes with so much information, it is hard to remember 206 bones all at once. When breaking it down and studying a few at a time, it comes together a lot more successfully—which brings another quick tip to BREAK THINGS DOWN. Study and master one section at a time. Once this is mastered, study the next section and then go back and review the old section and the one you just studied. Slowly add on more and more information and you will be a lot more successful. I once read somewhere that your brain can only hold and process seven pieces of information at a time. So why challenge this? WORK WITH YOUR BRAIN, and the results you desire will follow.
6. This last one is something I’ve been recently implementing and goes along with a common known saying you learn as a kinesiology/ exercise science major: 'Use it or lose it.'
Recently, as I’ve been observing physical therapists in action, I’ve really understood that they use anatomy every day when diagnosing patients and I’m sure in most healthcare fields, the same is true. So, in order to really obtain this knowledge, it is important to review a bit each day. Nothing serious here—just simply going over the anatomy you’ve learned and getting yourself so familiar with it that eventually it becomes second nature.