Why I Don't Take Notes in German Medical School

Why I Don't Take Notes in German Medical School

Being an international medical student in Germany required a significant amount of study time. You're not only studying medicine, but also read the book in another language. You'll have to reduce mundane work like writing your notes to have more time for yourself.

Cindy Yoseffa
Cindy Yoseffa
5 min read

Table of Contents

✍🏻 Writing notes is not always learning

Writing your notes as freshman in medical school is one of my biggest mistakes on first semester. I used to think writing my notes is learning. I thought, I didn't write enough notes, when I couldn't understand something, but that is not the case. The problem was: I don't try to understand what I'm studying.

Writing your notes is actually a passive act.

When you write your notes, you are copying or summarizing the information from a book, and this is not learning. Learning is an active act and requires understanding.

I love to see writing notes as reorganizing or sorting information.

The problem with sorting information without understanding the subject is, most of the time, you'll lose your sight. You can easily study some irrelevant stuffs. This can take a toll on your time, your energy and your self-confidence.

This realization is a big thing for me. I then try to really understand what I read in medical books. As soon as I understand: My goal is to download the information from medical book inside my head and not on papers, I began my journey searching for the best study method a medical student can have.

I asked some of my friend and one of them gave me excellent advice. She only writes things she doesn't understand. She then asks herself what she doesn't understand and try to find the answer on the book.

I found this perspective so intriguing, that I also started doing the same thing. I only wrote things that I don't understand and asked myself many questions. Then I came crossed an idea, to only understand via questions. I started my first experience in anatomy and collected questions for particular subject. I then try to answer them one by one and still make notes from it. My grade skyrocketed, and I got an A+ (or 1) for my first anatomy exam. I was so happy and gained a lot of self-confidence in my skill to learn.

If you can explain something to a 5 years old with a simple language, than you understand the topic.
- Feynman

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📚 What is actually studying (learning) medicine as medical student

1st Step: Outlining and Definitions

You'll realize for the first time in your life you must learn so many topics to pass a test in medical school. You'll feel overwhelmed by the topics. Don't worry with them. They'll help you in your journey. The first step is exactly collecting the outline for that particular subject.

Studying in preclinical medical school in Germany is mostly understanding the basic of science. There are so many medical terms you don't understand. So, the next step before studying is always to be familiar with all the terms in the subject. You'll absolutely get confuse, if you don't understand them.

In Germany, we have a Flexikon for medical terms: DocCheck. DocCheck is your guide. You don't really need to buy the Latin-Greek dictionary for the terminology in medicine. If you really need and want one, then you can always get it for FREE as e-book on university website. Save your money as a medical student for going out with friends or traveling. You deserve a pause from learning and some fun.

2nd Step: Collecting New Knowledge

Collect all the relevant themes on the subject for the test, so you can make a list of things you need to learn. You can get it from the lecture titles on the subject or from some medical website to study. In Germany, there are Amboss and Via Medici from Thieme. These websites have summary from all preclinical and clinical subject for medical school. Try to see if you have similar things on our lecture presentations and their lists.

TikTok: Why You Should Not Buy Books in German Medical School


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3rd Step: Practicing with Space Repetition or Multiple Choice

Now you are on the fun part of studying medicine. You need to ask as many questions as possible for that particular lecture presentations, title or subject. If your brain stop working due to insecurity, imposter syndrome or self-doubt, you can always get a look for the old exams questions and start there. You can find old exams on DocsDocs for your University or find the old exams questions from Amboss and Via Medici.

For some people, looking at the old exams questions is a scary movie. Actually, it's not that scary. You don't need to be correct for the first question. You only need to make yourself familiar with the form of questions and the topics inside the exam. Amboss and Via Medici also provide the difficult grade for every topic, which is really helpful.

🤔 Where to begin

The hardest topic in my opinion should be the first topic to learn. This should be measure by your confidence and energy. This is typically you in your ideal, motivated self.

In my opinion, you should start with the most difficult subject because at the beginning of study phase you have so much energy and your brain capacity to remember, is on the fullest. Use this situation for your best.

If you don't have that much confidence, start with a topic, which interests you most. This will boost your energy, and then you can start again with learning a more difficult topic to understand.

After you finish a topic, tests yourself in Amboss or Via Medici on that particular topic. You can also open your DocsDocs account and tests yourself with the old exams for the topic. Do this repeatedly until you finish check in on all the topics you need for the exam.

👩🏻‍💻 How to learn without writing notes

There are plenty of ways now available on the internet. You have so many options. I particularly love using Notion and RemNote.

TikTok: How I Use Notion and RemNote in Medical School


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📝 When to write notes

  1. I would recommend you to buy 📔 a small pocket note. You'll need this in near anatomy specimen and walking lectures in hospital.
  2. Another reason you need to write your notes, is when you need to explain a concept to yourself in a simple way or complex way. This is what people call a Feynman Technique.
  3. When discussing with friends, you can take some notes for the things you don't understand. Please keep in mind, you only write things you don't understand. Things you understand is already in your head. You don't need to write it again. It is a waste of time for practicing or doing other things you deem important: building friendship, hobbies, a walk in the nature, and a lot more.

🚀 Get Notion and RemNote


Cindy Yoseffa

Medical Student in Munich, Germany | UGC Creator