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11 Must-Know Tips to Study Anatomy Effectively in MBBS

Anatomy is a vital subject for medical students aspiring to become doctors. However, it can be quite difficult to learn the human body’s complex systems, especially when dense textbooks and confusing diagrams are used as teaching tools.

I have compiled a list of 11 tips on how to study anatomy effectively in MBBS so that you’re well prepared for your exams! These are some of the best ways to learn Anatomy.

Anatomy was the toughest subject for me in my first year of MBBS. Such difficult times!

How to Study Anatomy in MBBS?

1. Choose the right textbook

In Indian medical colleges, two of the most widely used textbooks for Anatomy in the first year of MBBS are BD Chaurasia (BDC) and Vishram Singh. Both of them are pretty good. When it comes to books that are equally good, what matters is which one you can understand better.

The important thing to remember is that Vishram Singh’s diagrams are much better and easier to reproduce. Diagrams make understanding easy and play a very crucial role in fetching you marks in university exams. In BDC, the language is easy to understand.

In my medical college, we mostly read BDC for Anatomy. For the easy diagrams, we referred Vishram Singh.

You will have to read the book in a way that suits your understanding and pace. You should have a look at both books in your college library and then decide which is most appropriate for you.

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Remember that no book is complete on its own. There are certain topics that a single textbook will not cover adequately. For conceptual clarity of important topics, you can refer to Gray’s Anatomy in the library of your medical college.

2. Get familiar with the basics

Studying Anatomy is challenging. Being good at it requires a strategy. A good study strategy starts with knowing what you’re studying. Getting the basics right is crucial.

Without a foundation, you’ll just have a shaky structure. What’s the point of having a house if it doesn’t have a solid foundation?

Open your General Anatomy Handbook and by heart all the anatomical terms and understand their meanings.

Get familiar with basic anatomical terms and terminologies. It’s literally like learning the ABC of anatomy.

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3. Visualize Anatomy by drawing diagrams

Drawing diagrams is a great way of visualising anatomy. You will remember a topic longer. Diagrams help to boost your visual memory.

While writing an exam, always make sure you draw enough diagrams, the examiner doesn’t really have the time to read all the theory points hence diagrams are key to score better.

Draw the relevant structures in relation to each other – try drawing them from multiple angles as well so you can see how they’re positioned relative to each other.

Colour code labelling also plays an important role. Use colours when you draw the anatomical diagrams. For example:

  • Red for artery
  • Blue for vein
  • Green for ligament or tendon
  • Brown for muscle

4. Use a practical approach to study

A practical approach makes your theory knowledge stronger and helps in memory retention.

For example, use boneset, cadaveric demonstration, histological slides, and embryological models. You’ll be able to relate to things better.

Study with your Human Anatomy atlas. Atlas is a beautiful book with tons of illustrations. Always study theory with an atlas by your side.

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Utilize online resources to your advantage. If you’ve missed a dissection class or you want to revise any part of it, let’s say you want to revise your forearm. Just search dissection of the forearm on YouTube and you’ll find plenty of videos to watch.

Videos are a great way to stimulate your interest in a topic if you find text on a page tedious and difficult. You also have the option of subscribing to Marrow or PrepLadder if you want in-depth videos of first-year MBBS subjects. However, it isn’t necessary.

5. Keep your notes short and concise

As you study Anatomy, it’s important to make short notes that you can review later. If you take notes when studying, you will improve your memory retention and be able to recall the information later on.

Avoid writing long paragraphs which are hard to decipher from one another. It’s better to write in short sentences or bullet points – it will be easier for you to review what you’ve learned later on and, most importantly, you’ll remember the information a lot more easily!

Bullet points work particularly well because they’re easy to read through again later. They also help with retaining facts efficiently because there are lesser words.

6. Use memory tools like flashcards or mnemonics

Anatomy is all about memory. It’s difficult to remember the names of all those bones and muscles, but it isn’t impossible.

Flashcards are a great way for students to memorize important information that they can use later on in their studies. Using flashcards is an effective and simple way to recall things.

It isn’t easy for medical students to remember the names and locations of anatomical structures, so they often invent simple mnemonics to help them. They include acronyms, short poems, and ridiculous phrases!

You can create your own mnemonics or use the ones in BDC or Vishram Singh.

7. Don’t cram everything at once

Don’t attempt to cram all your studying into one session. The more time you take, the better your retention of information will be.

Instead of reading all the pages of a chapter and feeling overwhelmed by it all, break down your goal into small sections so that you can learn more efficiently.

If you read a topic at a time, it’s much easier to comprehend the information. And with anatomy, there is a lot of content in each chapter.

Also, take breaks when you need them, but not too often!

8. Organize your study schedule

Make two types of goals, short-term and long-term.

Short-term goals are nothing but the goals you need to achieve by the end of the day. Plan your day in the morning or even better, the night before. It helps you to stay focused.

Long-term goals are basically your accumulated short-term goals. When you achieve your short-term goals, you tend to achieve long terms goals better.

9. Periodically review what you have learned

There is no point in learning if you ain’t going back and revising whatever you’ve studied. Make sure you periodically review and revise your anatomy notes and flashcards.

This will help you to remember what’s in your notes and flashcards for when you need it during 1st-year MBBS.

10. Go through previous year question papers

A major chunk of the questions asked in the MBBS university examination is repeated.

Before studying the entire syllabus in the first year, make sure you finish the past year’s questions first.

Since the syllabus is huge, you might end up not completing it, hence it makes more sense to finish these previous year’s topics first. Once you’re done with this, you can also try solving model question papers.

11. Group study with friends

Studying with friends or classmates is a great way to stay motivated. You’ll have someone else there who can answer your questions when you get stuck, and that’s always nice!

Study together in small groups of two-to-four people. That gives everyone the chance to talk without feeling self-conscious about asking for help or being wrong.


Goodluck Medicoholics! Until next time.

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