In this post, I’ll be listing down a few techniques that personally helped me in my first year of MBBS and that you should definitely implement to understand and study Biochemistry.
Studying Biochemistry in an easy and time-efficient manner requires the right set of books, the right mentality, and the right plan. With this, even a boring and cumbersome subject like Biochemistry becomes easy.
I used to hate Biochemistry. All I did was mug up the topics before the unit tests and spill it all over the answer sheet.
But then comes the brighter side of the story. With time, I analysed myself and my approach towards the subject. Here are a few changes that I implemented which helped me not only study Biochemistry but also enjoy the subject!
How to Study Biochemistry in MBBS?
1. Choose the Right Textbook
It’s very important to choose the right textbook for easy understanding. For in-depth knowledge, there are books like Harper’s and Lippincott’s. These are standard books and are used for reference. I found Lippincott’s illustrated reviews useful. It’s easy to understand with sufficient illustrations and a very good summary is presented at the end of each chapter.
From an exam point of view, two of the most widely followed books in India are Vasudevan and Satyanarayana. Both are great, but I personally found Vasudevan slightly better.
Here’s a pro tip. After a biochemistry class, read that particular topic from both Satyanarayana and Vasudevan in your college library. Whichever book you found easier to understand, purchase that.
If you wish to just pass Biochemistry, I’d recommend Prasad (especially for medical colleges in Karnataka affiliated to RGUHS). It’s very concise and easy to cover within a short period of time, particularly when exams are around the corner.
Moreover, it’s always better to stick to just one textbook and use the same throughout the year. Don’t change it last minute, especially when finals are close.
2. Build the Basics and Fundamentals
To understand a topic, we first need to simplify it. This simplification is the key to understanding.
Start from the basics. For example, if you want to learn the chapter carbohydrate metabolism, start with the chemistry of carbohydrates, clear all your doubts (if any), and then slowly progress to the metabolism part.
If you’re facing difficulty in understanding the concepts, you can ask your teachers to clear your doubts or you can watch respective videos on youtube.
In biochemistry, there are numerous terms and each has a specific meaning. If you understand the term, you pretty much understand the process behind it. For example, Succinate is converted to Fumarate by Succinyl Dehydrogenase. Dehydrogenase implies that it is catalysing the dehydrogenation of the reaction. And dehydrogenation is a redox reaction (oxidation-reduction reaction).
3. Focus on Understanding and Correlation
First, skim through the chapter and get an overview of what you’re about to study.
Instead of just reading topics, try to visualise them. This helps you remember better. One can memorise only if they have understood what they just read.
Try to correlate the concepts in biochemistry with clinical cases or diseases, making it easier for you to recollect and remember. Make biochemistry relatable!
Group study can help too. discussing concepts with your friends will help consolidate your knowledge and provide much-needed support and motivation.
4. Make Appropriate Short Notes
Making notes helps you remember what you understood and strengthens memory retention.
Now, I’m not saying you have to make notes for everything. MBBS is a vast course and it’s pretty obvious that we, as students, can’t make notes of literally everything.
Make notes for topics that you feel are volatile and difficult. Make sure that these notes are very concise (short and sweet!).
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- Lipid metabolism
- Protein and amino acid metabolism
- Nucleotide metabolism
- Heme metabolism
- Biological Oxidation (ETC and oxidative phosphorylation)
- Organ function tests
- Vitamins and Minerals
Metabolism chapters carry a lot of weightage in the final examination. They can literally make or break your results. Lay more emphasis on these units. Make sure you make appropriate flowcharts for the various pathways.
To remember minerals and vitamins, it’s better to make tables including dietary sources, chemistry, metabolism (absorption, transport, and storage), daily requirement, functions, and deficiency. This helps to avoid confusion.
I agree, it takes a lot of time to make notes but the best part is that it becomes extremely easy to revise it later.
Also, please do not spend too much time making notes, short notes will suffice.
5. Systematic Revision is Key
The best way to remember biochemistry is to review it over and over again.
For metabolism chapters, multiple revisions are the key to memorising the pathways. Using different color codes for enzymes and substrates also helps. You might also need to make mnemonics, it saved me!
One can make flashcards, practice MCQs, go through review books in the library, draw diagrams and even create flowcharts.
Just make sure you give biochemistry enough time and don’t keep pushing it aside.
A systematic revision is just what is needed. This involves revision at regular intervals.
For example, if you read something today, revise it again tomorrow, then again after a week, then again after a month. This process is known as spaced repetition.
6. Go Through Previous Year Question Papers
As I said, biochemistry is huge. One cannot remember every minute detail.
Try to have a basic idea about everything.
But for the exam, it makes more sense to go through the previous year’s questions and give more importance to these.
Use the question bank thoroughly and mark the frequently asked topics in your textbook/notebook.
Here’s how your approach should be: Frequently asked questions > Not so frequently asked questions > Remaining topics (if you still have time left).
When exams are closer, it’s important to have a good plan. List down all the chapters and give them specific hours in which you have to cover them. This will give you a rough idea regarding how to go about it. Make a decent schedule and follow it on a daily basis.
You might not be able to follow the plan consistently and diligently but that’s completely fine. Having a plan is much better than not even having any and blindly studying.
Just keep going with the plan. Cover as much as you can.
Here’s the link to biochemistry question bank.
Here’s the link to download past year’s question papers (RGUHS).
Hope you liked the post. Comment your thoughts/suggestions below.
Good luck Medicoholics! Until next time.