The Successful Student Part 2

In the first blog post about being a successful student we discussed principle #1:

Thoughtfully develop a personal, daily, habitual, and healthy learning routine.

Principle #2 is:

Create a mind map for every topic you study. Review your notes periodically.

Let me illustrate how I used mind maps in medical school.

After attending and studying each lecture, I wrote down the key concepts on a single piece of paper. As I reviewed the material, I referenced my notes and added some detail. Prior to taking the test, I committed my notes to memory.

There are several reasons why organizing the information you are trying to learn this way is powerful.

First, by writing down the key principles, you become an active learner. You go through the study process asking yourself, “What are the most important things for me to know?”

Second, consolidating a topic onto a single sheet of paper allows you to package the information for recall and use in the future.

Third, a mind map helps you connect key ideas and principles together. Learning becomes infinitely more interesting and memorable this way.

Fourth, a consolidated map allows for long term study and rapid review of a topic. I read the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg recently. Rather than re-reading his entire book in the future, I can remember the key topics by periodically reviewing my notes.

Finally, creating something that is yours as you study gives you a sense of accomplishment. Its easier to see what you have learned. Your files will fill with information that you have mastered.

1. Courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project –

2. Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. 2012.

Areas of the human brain are connected to each other by bundles of axons. This literal mind map reminds us how we learn (1).

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