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20 Study Tips from My PT School Professor

I was browsing through my old anatomy notes when I found a handout that my anatomy professor gave us during orientation. I haven’t read it since orientation, so I figured that it would be a good idea to read it again before the Spring Semester begins. I took my favorites and rewrote them here.

These tips won’t work for everyone, so figure out what works for you!

  1. Study daily. Don’t put off studying until right before the exam.
  2. Don’t memorize. Understand the material so you don’t forget the information.
  3. Learn it now. I know there are so many classes you have to juggle, but it’s a lot less stressful to learn as you go. Don’t wait until the weekend, after class is over, or before an exam. Stay focused during class and review the material often.
  4. Have a good mindset. This is not undergrad anymore. Your classes are relevant to your future career. Don’t learn information just for the test, but learn it for your future patients, so you’re the best physical therapist that you can possibly be.
  5. Prepare before lecture. Review your notes from the previous lectures, and try to read ahead into the new material.
  6. Schedule study time. Keep a planner and set aside time to study.
  7. Listen and focus. Try to fight your daydreaming during class, and actively participate when possible.
  8. Use all study resources. This includes your classmates, your notes, powerpoints, textbooks, models, internet, videos, your own body, professors, and teaching assistants.
  9. Study little chunks. It’s easier to pick  a section of your notes to master instead of trying to learn everything at once.
  10. Learn the big picture. Understand the main concepts, then learn the details, and then revisit the big picture.
  11. Find a study partner. Find a classmate that you work well with. You can schedule study time, bounce ideas off each other, quiz each other, teach things to each other, and help each other focus.
  12. Helps your classmates. Learn through teaching other classmates. If you know the material well enough, you should be able to explain it to others.
  13. Actively learn. If you are confused, try to learn the information by reading textbooks or looking online. Then ask your classmates if you are still confused. If your classmates cannot help, then ask your professor. If you have a question, do not immediately ask your professor. Try to actively learn yourself, and engage your classmates so they can also learn.
  14. Sleep enough. It’s much more difficult to retain information and stay focused during class if you are mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
  15. Practice tests. Make practice questions and share with your classmates.
  16. Spend time at school. Go into lab when you have spare time, work during your lunch period, or study at the library.
  17. Make time for yourself. Do something that makes you happy or relaxes you. Cook delicious meals, exercise, call your loved ones, drive around town, or watch TV. School can take up a majority of your time, but it shouldn’t take up ALL of your time!
  18. Set clear goals. Make daily goals and weekly goals. They can be related to school or your personal life. Plan to have a certain topic mastered by a set date.
  19. Break down big tasks. Larger tasks can be overwhelming, so break it down into smaller tasks that are more manageable.
  20. Reward yourself. Take a 5 minute break after studying for 30 minutes, eat some ice cream, or go to see a new movie. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, so don’t forget that!


Did you try any of these tips, or have any of your own to add? Please comment below!

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  1. Mykala

    What resources or apps do you use to prepare for DPT school? I’m going into assistant or DPT school, not sure which yet.

    • Katie - My Road to PT

      Hi Mykala!

      I took a long break from blogging, but I hope this can help you or others with similar questions.

      I honestly didn’t prepare for PT school at all. I know that some students will try to study in advance, particularly by memorizing anatomy (muscle attachments, innervations, etc). Studying before school has some pro’s / con’s, the main one being you may be studying incorrect information, or trying to study in a way that promotes memorizing instead of truly understanding.

      Instead of studying, I would recommend making a plan to ensure that you have a good work/life balance while you’re in school. Start with good exercise habits, meal prep skills, or find a therapist to begin addressing any anxiety / depression that you’ve been struggling to manage.

      Hope this helps, and please feel free to ask me any other questions you may have!


    but I still can’t follow my routine.
    Can’t maintain the regular study.
    Procrastination looks like my good ally .
    I want to remove that .
    Pls help me with some tips.

    • Katie - My Road to PT

      Hey there!

      I really wish I could tell you the magical fix to procrastination. I’ve been a procrastinator as long as I can remember, which definitely sucks. I know that I’ve given advice like “don’t procrastinate on your studying!”, but I almost always did it anyways. I thrive well under stress, and remember well by learning as much as possible right before an exam. I feel like sometimes I procrastinated by creating different ways of studying, finding new ways to organize my binders, creating yet another to-do list, or trying out a different organizing app every month.

      For me, I know that it would have been a lot easier to focus on school if I was taking better care of myself. I should have exercised more often, and avoided studying while exercising. I could have benefited from seeing a therapist regularly. I also could have improved my sleep hygiene, and could have hung out with my classmates more often. Sometimes I studied TOO MUCH, causing me to burn out and further procrastinate on other things.

      I recommend sitting down and jotting down some thoughts. It could be on a laptop, or with a pencil and paper. Write down WHY you think you procrastinate, or what might contribute to your difficulties with studying. Are you stressed? Do you feel like you aren’t smart enough? Are you comparing yourself to your classmates? Do you hate reading books? Are you too tired and not sleeping well? Do you take enough breaks? Do you eat healthy and exercise? Are you dealing with anxiety or depression? Are you motivated by studying with a partner or in a group, but never take the initiative to reach out to classmates? Can you make changes to your routine, so you’re more likely to follow it?

      Have you found anything that has helped your procrastination in the past? Write it down. Is there anything or anyone that can help you become more accountable? Can you set regular study dates with a peer? Can you carpool to the library with a friend?

      I hope this helps! I can try to give more specific advice if you can pinpoint your exact issues. If you’re having trouble with that, consider seeing a counselor or therapist. You don’t need to be on the verge of a mental breakdown before seeking help. They can try to help you understand yourself better, and maybe help you realize WHY you procrastinate. Googling ideas for “how to stop procrastinating” never worked for me, but I think self-care and a therapist would have helped the most.

      Let me know if you need anything else! šŸ™‚

      • Tanvi Jerine Tigga

        Thank you for these beautiful tips. I have been procastinating my studies recently. Can you suggest me some tips to study subject like physics and chemistry.

        • Katie - My Road to PT

          You’re welcome! Here are some of my ideas for those classes:

          1. Are you currently taking those classes and struggling? Reach out to your professor and any teaching assistants, or find a tutor. Go to office hours regularly. Don’t wait to ask for help until you’re drowning. A lot of science classes build on the information each week, so you really can’t expect yourself to learn everything the week before an exam.
          2. Do you have any friends in that class? I would try to connect with other students and see if you can work together.
          3. Make sure you are fully understanding any homework assignments, lab activities, or quizzes. If you are confused, ask for help. If you missed points on anything, figure out why. Re-solve any problems until you can get it correct.
          4. Find videos online and watch them. I found Khan Academy to be helpful.
          5. Ask your professor for any extra resources that have been helpful for previous students.
          6. Don’t just memorize the information. You can typically memorize some things, but you usually need to understand each topic well in order to pass these classes. If you’re doing an assignment or lab activity, don’t rely on the “smarter” group members to do all the work for you. That’s a waste of your time, and you should be learning from these peers.
          7. Study as actively as possible. Write down problems and solve them, quiz with another classmate, or answer the questions at the end of a textbook. There are plenty of ways to study.
          8. Try to read reviews online or speak to your friends about which professors are the best for these classes. Sometimes I waited a semester or two until I knew that a really great professor would be teaching those courses. If needed, you can look into nearby community colleges or online courses. Consider taking these courses over a summer break, so you only have 1 or 2 courses at a time to focus on. Consider taking these courses with “easier” courses in the same semester, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

          Try to figure out why you’re procrastinating, and fix the root of the issue. Look at your current GPA, and look at the average GPA required to get into a PT program. Read online forums and Facebook groups about all of the pre-PT students who take YEARS to get into PT school because their GPA is less than 3.0. Learn how EXPENSIVE it can be to re-take courses if you don’t get an A or B on your first attempt. Try to calculate the annual loss of income for each year that you are not accepted into PT school, if your grades aren’t high enough. Do what you need to do to motivate yourself, but don’t think you’re going to find a secret way to stop procrastinating by searching for the answer online. Sometimes you just have to just do what you don’t feel like doing at the time, in order to create a better future for yourself.

          Best of luck! šŸ™‚

          • Katie - My Road to PT

            You’re welcome Tanvi! Thanks for reading, and I really hope it helped you with your studying. šŸ™‚