How to ace human anatomy 101

Studying for any science class isn’t a walk in the park and definitely deserves your undivided attention. Yes, it’s not fair watching your friends with small tasks for the next class while you’re drowning in lab work – but I think if you get a real enjoyment out of your science courses, you’ll reap the benefits with how you can apply them later on in life.

Taking human anatomy was probably one of the first courses in my college career to really solidify the path I wanted to take. Whether you’re choosing to go into the medical field or solely just want to get to know the inner workings of YOUR body, you’ll be fascinated with the amount of things you’ll learn.

Before I jump into my tips on how to secure a slammin’ grade, it’s important to share that while you’re taking this class, if you don’t at least TRY to understand the terms and systems as maybe a doctor or a nurse, you’ll be asking yourself all the time “why am I taking this? Why do I need to know this?” aka DON’T be this person. If you try to comprehend the material in a perception different than your own, you will quickly learn it and be able to explain it to your friends! Enjoy ❤

1. You Need to Read Ahead 

Don’t brush past this tip and think to yourself it’s not necessary. You have a whole semester to learn a set curriculum and that’s it. Unless you fail, you’re not going back to that class to re-read certain chapters. Once you start with the first lesson which could be anything from the Endocrine, Urinary, Reproductive System, etc, you NEED to stay ahead.

You could stay at the same pace as your professor, but odds are they probably know more than you and will quickly read over words simply assuming you just understand. Get it now? When your professor asks you to review certain terms before lab, make sure you don’t just read but UNDERSTAND them in a way that you can explain aloud! Certain key terms will literally be used over and over again because the human body connects in mysterious ways! READ, READ, READ!

2. Get in Touch with Your Creative Side 

Studies show the best way to learn is to activate that ‘artist’ side of your brain. When you’re dealing with terms like lumbar plexus and tricuspid valve, you might need your creative side more than ever to help you out.

For me, when I’m busting out my flashcards or writing out annotations in my books, I’m listening to Lofi beats. It’s the coolest set of beats meant to calm you and make you focus at your task in hand. Here’s a link to a youtube channel with Lofi beats here! I can’t explain the amount of relaxation I get from hearing this music. There’s no lyrics or person behind a microphone, simply your thoughts and a slow beat.

Another way I allow my creative side to slither into my studying is by color coding. Human anatomy is all about structures and identifying its purpose within arteries, bones, ligaments, etc. You will receive a ton of diagrams so you can understand the human body from a visual standpoint. Color coding these structures and their certain accents will help you differentiate and identify on the day of your practical. Color coding has been proven to help people memorize complex or numerous terms!

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Don’t be sloppy with it though. I know tons of people that color code just to say they did it. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. Color coding is meant to make your life easier and group things together. For example, on a diagram of the heart, you would highlight with pink the valves and then highlight with yellow the atriums. There needs to be a sense behind all the colored madness! Otherwise when you look back at your notes, you’ll be confused as to why this term is colored a certain way than others.

3. Schedule your Studying in Advance 

Short and sweet. Map out the week in your planner with all the things you need to review and prepare for, for the following week. I wouldn’t consider myself a control freak that breaks down if something isn’t done, but these chapters NEED to get done.

Having a schedule has helped me in so many ways, by allowing me to study for all my other classes in a non-sobbing manner. Whether your lab comes before your lecture or vice versa, it’s basically like two DIFFERENT classes.

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This is different from my first tip because unless you don’t actively schedule out time to review and do pre-lab work, you’ll constantly be asking yourself if anything is due or what you should know for next class. Aka don’t be this person!

Most of the course is built on systems of the body which then dive into terms, case studies, structures on a microscopic level and why they’re important. One week you’ll be learning about the skeletal system and the next week you’re jumping into the nervous system. So it’s crucial that you give yourself time to comprehend the material before you jump into the next one. There was never a break or chance in class to go over the last system, so make sure YOU are responsible for it.

   4. Memorization takes Different Forms 

Taking human anatomy means identifying structures and the little accents that go into them. To some people, it may come easy to stare at a foreign diagram and simply memorize the parts from there. But to me, I have to bring in analogies from my life and relate it back to these diagrams.

For example, when I started learning about the compact bone and its microscopic features, it was one of the most confusing shit I’ve ever had to retain. That was until I took the time to memorize it in another way. The shape of osteons that surround the vein and artery otherwise known as the central canal, literally looks like a cake! A cake with many layers reaching down to the core with explicit frosting on the sides, known as the canaliculi  for blood flow and lacunae for the containment of osteocytes. 

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This may seem like a load of crap if you’ve never taken the class before, but giving yourself other ways to memorize structures other than hopelessly staring at it DOES WORK. I just find random things in my life that look similar and I’m all set. For others, it may work to draw it out a few times and label it!

   5. Eat Real Food

This tip was probably the easiest one to come up with because I personally struggled with this for about 2/3 of the course. Obviously you’re never allowed to bring food or water into lab so make sure you’re ready for the class ahead of you. Lecture on the other hand does allow you to bring food and water because just like lab, lectures can last more than 2 hours. My lecture was 5 HOURS.

At the beginning, I was so excited to just sit back, review the power point slides and eat while focusing on my professor. I would go to the cafe with my friend and we’d order frappucinos and french fries, ahhhh I can already hear my GI tract hating me right now. Well, the food started getting to me. I would slump in class, have nasty posture and sometimes even get on my phone!

So before one class, I decided to actually pack a lunch with apples, crackers, trail mix and water. THE DIFFERENCE IN ENERGY MY BODY PUT OUT. It’s true guys, what you put into your body really does come out the same way. If you eat like shit, you’ll feel like shit. The last place you want to be groggy and unobservant is in lecture! Just by eating apples and drinking water alone, I stood up straight, paid wayyy more attention and actually asked questions. This is not a joke guys!

But yes, on occasion I went down to the cafe and ordered an iced coffee. Nothing wrong with that, just make sure its not your whole meal.

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That’s it! Aside from the obvious tips like have pencils ready and actually go to class, I hope these opened your mind to a few more ways to be a good noodle. I’ve taken a few science classes over the course of my life but human anatomy was really a game changer for me on the route I wanted to take. I’m so happy I took the time to learn the body, the bones, organs and all the systems inside us that literally make us function on a daily basis. If you’re reading this right now, you probably have great insides 😉

Happy Summer! xo Any questions on how to study? School life? Makeup routine for school? Comment below!

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