One of the most difficult things to do in anatomy class is to memorize the huge numbers of things you need to know before the exam. In many cases, it is not enough to know the 206 bones in the human body. Most students can eventually memorize all of them. The problem are the 15 ridges and grooves on every bone that have to be memorized as well. When you multiply the 206 bones with ridges and grooves, that is a lot to memorize. It’s easy to get confused as well. However, there are a lot of things you can do to make the memorization process much easier and quicker.
Using Anatomy Mnemonics
One of the things that can help assist with memorization is to make up mnemonics. Sometimes getting the first letter in a word is very helpful memorization as well as later recall during the exam. Here is an example:
Bones of the wrist are scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate. A mnemonic you can use is “Some lovers try positions that they cannot handle.”
Lab Diagrams With Blanks
Another great strategy is to use a lab diagram like the ones where the professor or TA makes you fill in the labels. What you want to do is to make a photocopy and white out all of the filled in labels. Then photocopy the white-out version about 15 times. What you’ll do is study the information, then fill in one of the blank diagrams. While filling it in, speak the words as well. By using a much more effective multi-sensory approach (reading, writing, speaking, and hearing), you maximize the chances of memorization and recall. Do this over and over again until you’ve successfully memorized it. Students who have used this approach often end up acing their anatomy exams as well as their lab exams.
Another useful strategy is to take pictures of the lab models with your high resolution camera cell phone (if permitted by your instructor). It is very likely you will see them again in the lab practical, so you might as well get familiar with them from a picture.
Time Management for Anatomy and Physiology Studying
It’s best to work smarter rather than harder. Don’t study when you are most tired (eg. late at night just prior to bed time). You should study at the times when you are most alert and awake. Also, do a little bit of it at a time. Your brain has only a limited amount it can absorb each time. Try to mix up all of these approaches. Use other resources instead of the same ones over and over again such as anatomy coloring books.
There are other free anatomy and physiology resources available for A&P students that are shooting for that elusive grade of “A.”