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How to Study Powerpoints in PT School

Step 1: Drink beer and eat pizza.

All jokes aside, studying in a bar has worked for me a couple times!

Powerpoints are used all the time in my physical therapy program, but they tend to have more information and fewer pictures than in undergrad. Therefore, it’s essential that you know how to study them. It’s easy to just read a slide, then read then next, and read through the entire powerpoint without actually learning a significant amount of information.

These are the only 4 methods that I’ve tried out, but I’m sure that there tons of other ways to learn from Powerpoints. The common theme of all of these is to stay active! Some people can learn from just reading information and remembering it, but I can’t. I have to actively write, draw, or speak, or I won’t learn very much.

Study Guides

For pretty much every class, I found it best to make my own study guides when I was first learning the material. This was especially helpful for powerpoint slides, but you can use it for any class.

I followed these 5 steps when studying:

  1. Make one or two questions per Powerpoint slide. Try to focus on the more important concepts.
  2. Answer 5 questions from memory on a sheet of paper or a whiteboard.
  3. Read the slides to find the answers. Correct any answers that were incorrect, and add any information that you couldn’t recall.
  4. Erase your answers, and try to answer the same 5 questions from memory.
  5. Once you have a good grasp on the information, move onto the next set of 5 questions.

This method forces me to quiz myself, so don’t passively read my notes. I have to actively think of the correct answer, and write the answer or draw any pictures associated with the question.

I also love this method because I can learn the material in smaller chunks. 30 pages of notes can seem overwhelming, so it’s helpful to focus on 5 study questions at a time and really learn that information before moving onto the next chunk of material.


We learned from Powerpoints in Advanced Physiology. This was fine for most of the information, but it became confusing for bigger topics.

When a concept is explained over several slides, it can be difficult to piece all the information together. I rewrote the the group of slides onto one piece of paper and organized the information so it made more sense to me. This was easier than flipping between Powerpoint slides, because I could see all the information at once.

Make Flashcards

For some powerpoint slides, it was hard to remember the information. My professor would ask what the diameter of a ribosome is (25-30 micrometers), and that’s not easy to remember when you have 60 other numbers to remember.

I wrote this post about making and studying flashcards. At the beginning of the semester I made flashcards from all the powerpoint slides and that was a waste of time. I transitioned into making the study guides and rewriting the slides for the bigger concepts, and only made flashcards for the detailed  information that I had trouble remembering.

Study with Classmates

Powerpoints are boring. After several hours of studying them, it’s hard to keep studying them.

Studying with classmates is helpful for every class, but especially if you have trouble focusing on the material. Quizzing each other and speaking out loud is helpful. Often times I thought I understood a concept until I tried to explain it to a classmate, and then I realized that I didn’t know it as well as I thought I did.


Have you found any good ways to study powerpoints? Share below so others can learn from your techniques!

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  1. Sally

    Thank you for this post. I find PowerPoint very difficult to study and learn for tests. I need to see the material in context. I believe my difficulty with PowerPoint has to do with my ADHD.

    I think your steps are good ones – to rewrite everything, which is more like regular lecture notes. You can print the outline, and use colors and graphics to make it easier to study. And I like the idea of creating one or two questions from every slide. I’ve been looking for resources that could tell me how to study with PowerPoint. Your post has done just that. Many thanks!

    • Katie - My Road to PT

      Hey Sally!

      Thank you so much for commenting. Yeah, I don’t learn well by writing. I need to be active in my studying, either by writing things or verbally explaining to someone else. I just end up daydreaming if I just stare at Powerpoint slides or textbooks.

      I’m so glad that I could help you out. Please reach out if you need any other help!