Medical Mnemonist Podcast

MEM for Study Skills that WORK & How Play Increases Learning!

In this second episode of the MedEdge Method mini-series, Chase DiMarco shares study techniques that can help you learn more effectively. He discusses how including play into studying increases learning and motivation.

  • [02:14] Setting Goals and Making Plans
  • [05:19] Interleaving
  • [06:58] Concrete Examples
  • [08:31] Dual Coding
  • [09:25] Spaced Repetition
  • [10:01] Inquiry-Based Learning
  • [11:58] Experiential Learning
  • [14:04] Incorporate Play Activities
  • [18:08] Key Takeaways
  • [19:17] Homework Exercise

Setting Goals and Making Plans

Before using any study techniques, the first step is to set your goals. Identify your ultimate long-term goal and then you can create short-term goals that will help you move forward. Afterward, make a study plan. It can be a basic outline that you can adjust as you go.


It’s more common for students to focus on a single subject for hours than to switch between topics. However, interleaving may prove to be more beneficial because your brain gets more rest and you have the opportunity to correlate different topics to each other. In this way, you gain a more comprehensive view of the material without burning out. Try changing your study focus every 20-30 minutes. You can order the subjects in whichever way you like.

Concrete Examples

Come up with your own images and analogies. By using concrete examples that are intuitive, you gain a deeper understanding of concepts. It’s much easier to remember examples that you thought of yourself.

Dual Coding

Dual coding involves combining words and visuals to represent a concept. The visual mnemonics we covered in past episodes are examples of dual coding. Connecting the various visual markers together helps us form stronger associations.

Spaced Repetition

Space out your study time in between sessions. It’s been proven time and time again that consistent practice is much more effective than cramming.

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning is another self-directed technique we can utilize more often. What do you want to know? In what new ways can you think about the topic? Instead of dismissing the questions you have, put in the effort to get answers. This makes studying more interesting because you gain insight about topics you’re genuinely curious about.

Experiential Learning

Hands-on experience is another method that provides advantages in long-term learning. You can practice in a lot of different ways. When you start your rotations, take advantage of the opportunity to apply your knowledge. Or if you’re in the early years of medical school, you can look for tools, toys, and simulated learning.


Find out your play personality. There are many online resources you can check out to know what your play style is. Depending on your profile, you gravitate towards certain activities more than others. You can play online games, board games, card games, or even sports to supplement your learning. By including play, you stay motivated to learn longer and gain the opportunity to collaborate with others. As a result, play increases your learning.


  • If you haven’t already, write out your short and long-term goals. Create a study plan that contains a list of resources and activities that you will be using. Space these out on a specific timeline. Don’t forget to add in a lot of buffer time for breaks or unexpected roadblocks.
  • Try all 7 study techniques we discussed. You can also try out the visual mnemonics we covered in our last mini-series.
  • Figure out your play personality. Create or choose at least one activity that you’ll enjoy and learn from.

Listen to our previous episode with Dr. Megan Sumeracki where we covered the strategies for effective learning in more detail. To learn more about visual mnemonics, start with episode 1 of our mini-series on medical mnemonics.

For more study tips, grab a copy of Read This Before Medical School. Or reach out to Chase on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. Join the Medical Mnemonist Master Mind Facebook group and find our Blog posts, Podcasts, and other Resources at!

Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of MedEd University, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist & Rounds to Residency podcasts creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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