4 Back to School Resolutions for Pre-Meds

September 5, 2017
Emily Hause

Set your back to school resolutions for the semester ahead.

This is the year you break those bad pre-med study habits.

Summer is winding down, and for many of you pre-med sophomores, juniors, and seniors, that means it’s time to head back to school.

Sure, the novelty of college may have worn off by now, and moving back into a dorm room or apartment may not be as exciting as it was in your freshman year. You may be dreading upper-division classes like Organic Chemistry. You may also be at risk of falling into old study habits that have kept you from achieving the grades you need to have a stellar medical school application.

Setting your back to school resolutions

Let’s tackle these bad habits head-on so that you can hit your best GPA and MCAT score and increase your chances of getting in.

You’ve heard of New Year’s resolutions aimed at breaking bad habits. (You may even remember some past resolutions that I’ve shared.) Well, creating a list of new school-year resolutions is a similar strategy for effectively improving your pre-med study habits. The following list is partially inspired by my own resolutions for starting residency.

Resolution #1: Spend less time on social media

The day before any test in medical school, I invariably knew the Facebook statuses of my friends. Unfortunately, the fact that my cousin ate a really great slice of pizza during her vacation last week is not information that was on my test the next day.

You don’t have to go so far as to deactivate your social media accounts, but you should consider limiting your time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever your go-to time-wasting site of choice may be once you go back to school. Set a timer, or have a friend remind you to hop off. I find that I am most productive if I print my notes and close my computer when I study. It’s hard on the trees, but much better for my studies.

Resolution #2: Plan your pre-med fun

People may tell you that school should be focused solely on studying and that fun should be a secondary concern. Since the majority of pre-meds, medical students, and physicians will at some point struggle with burn-out, we suggest learning how to plan your fun in advance. Giving structure to your leisure time heading back to school will help you keep your sanity and will make your study-time more effective, since you know you’ll have a set time to blow off steam.

Practically speaking, if there’s a football game on Saturday and you plan to tailgate and spend the day at the stadium, you should also plan to stay in and study on Friday night. In the long run you’ll enjoy your time at the game more if you know that you put in some quality study time the night before.

Resolution #3: Get more sleep

Research continues to illustrate the benefits of getting a good night of sleep (we’re talking eight hours). Getting insufficient intervals of sleep has been linked to negative consequences such as poor academic performance, increased obesity, and a greater number of car accidents. I can hear you protesting already: “But Emily,” you say, “I’m just so busy! There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

With a packed pre-med schedule, prioritizing sleep is extremely difficult. That said, I’ve realized during my residency especially that getting enough high-quality sleep is important for my patient-care. Every resident I know walks a fine line of getting enough sleep while making sure they have a sufficient life outside the hospital. In medical school I always made a point to get good sleep the night before an exam. If medical students and residents who are involved in student council, clinic, volunteering, research,athletic pursuits, and a million other things can get eight hours of sleep, so can you.

Resolution #4: Prep for the MCAT

If you haven’t already signed up for your Kaplan MCAT class, now is a great time to do so. We’ve already talked about the fact that the MCAT is an important factor in boosting your application—even after your GPA is pretty much solidified. So, why wait? Get started prepping for the MCAT today and set concrete goals for improving your score after your head back to school.

Need more help preparing for your pre-med semester ahead? Grab our Free Countdown to Medical School Checklist and plan your journey to becoming a doctor.

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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