Tips from an A&P Tutor

  1. Hey guys! Just wanted to impart what I've learned through becoming an impromptu tutor over the past month.

    My secret to doing well in A&P is flashcards, but they are only useful if you do them in a certain way. I firmly believe that simply reading over 10 pages of highlighted notes is a complete waste. The best way to pack tons of information in during a very short time span is to chop it up into tiny (but clever) pieces. My method (and the one I try to impart on classmates) is this:

    1. Go chronologically from the beginning to the end of each chapter and keep the flash cards in order. That way the information builds on each other.

    2. Your flashcards CANNOT rely on word association. This is the big mistake most people make. Every flashcard shouldn't simply have a word on the front of it. It should be phrased in the form of a question, and designed to really trick/challenge you. You don't need to memorize, you need to be able to explain thoroughly.

    3. Don't just write "What is cardiac muscle?" and call it a day. Try: How is cardiac muscle different from smooth and skeletal muscle? How is it alike? (Answer: Cardiac muscle is branched and contains intercalatated discs. It is striated like skeletal muscle, but is not voluntary/somatic. It is involuntary like smooth muscle, and also has auto-rhythmic qualities (like the smooth muscle in the stomach/gut). Once you get familiar with your instructor's tests, you may even be able to anticipate questions, especially if he is the "Everything is true EXCEPT" or "select all that apply" type.

    4. Once you go through them a few times and (only after) all the information is familiar, take them five at a time and memorize them. Once you have five down, mix in five more and repeat until the process is done.

    5. IF YOU CAN'T TEACH IT, YOU DON'T KNOW IT. Simple as that. When I tutor other A&P students and they tell me "Oh hey, I read over this big blob of notes and I totally know it," it is always revealed that they don't understand it as well as they think they do. Familiarity is NOT knowing, and familiarity won't get you an A. If you can't see one word and be able to explain/expound upon it to someone else without hesitation, you don't know it. TEACH IT TO SOMEONE ELSE, AND YOU WILL DO GREAT. After I make my flashcards, I don't have to study. I just go over them with other students, and explaining the processes reinforces everything. No one to tutor? Teach it to your dog or cat. Grab a webcam and do your best impression of your professor.

    6. Make filthy, r-rated examples and acronyms: T-tubes are the link between excitation and muscle contraction because they invaginate (lol, invaginate) the sarcolemma, allowing the action potential to move down into the sarcoplasmic reticulum (insert clever but wholly inappropriate references to how lady parts also accomplish this during sex). Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times my classmates throw a raised eyebrow and a giggle my way when we are faced with a lab practical question that one of those dirty references has touched on. Is it mature? Nope, but you'll remember.

    6. Get out of the house. Seriously, I'm in a three-way relationship with Paneras and the campus library, and we're very happy together. It insulates me against the distractions I know will be waiting at home.

    7. A&P is not as in depth as nursing school. If you can't learn to do it and do it well, you're going to struggle, and quite possible fail even if you get into a program.

    Making the flashcards with thorough detail and carefully phrased questions takes a long time (3-4 hours), but overall, it's worth it, because you will learn the material better and in a much shorter time. It actually cuts DOWN on study time, because you can digest a ton of tiny-bite sized pieces of information rather than get lost looking at huge pages of notes. I'm nearly halfway through an eight credit API/APII one-semester course, and I am able to work 50 hours a week as an LPN and also take three other classes (two of which are honors, because hey, I'll sleep when I'm dead).
    Last edit by Esme12 on Sep 27, '13 : Reason: formatting/font
  2. Visit nekozuki profile page

    About nekozuki, LPN

    Joined: Oct '11; Posts: 348; Likes: 967
    LPN; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Pediatrics


  3. by   NurseGirl525
    What I do is make my flash cards and talk it to myself while I am pacing in my living room. lol Sounds silly, but it works for me. I do it for A&P II and Micro. I also make my flash cards the day I get the notes and then review them every day. By the time the test comes, I am thoroughly prepared.
  4. by   EmilysMama
    My first test in A&P was yesterday and I did okay but I could have done much better! I ace my smaller quizzes but man, I can honestly say I wasn't prepared, It whooped my hiney. In 4 weeks I hope to have a much better test result when I post. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm gonna print this out and bring it to our little study group. *fingers crossed*
  5. by   ShelbyaStar
    I totally do the dirty acronym thing! I had to memorize some chemical structures in a A&P class of long ago. Dopamine stood out to me because it had more HOs than the others. I remembered it by thinking, it has hoes (as in hookers). Hoes hoe to get dope. Dope sounds like dopamine. It's been years and I still remember the stupid thing. Not PC or SFW but definitely effective!

    Also remembered what ghrelin is because I thought of it as a little gremlin that lives in your stomach, making you hungry because it wants to make you fat.

    The more silly associations you can make, the better!
  6. by   mrssammerlotte
    these are great ideas, thanks
  7. by   nekozuki
    Haha, yes! I pace when I study and mutter under my breath! I'm pretty sure the poor humanities majors I am surrounded with think I'm absolutely nuts.
  8. by   queserasera
    Brilliant tips! That is how I got A's in my A&P courses!
  9. by   NCH, RN
    Invaginate that's great.

    This is similar to how I study, though I've slacked on the flashcards this last chapter. I'll keep these tips in mind, thank you for them.
  10. by   steelersgirl86
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This information is pure gold! I will definitely be following your advice this weekend!
  11. by   krisiepoo
    I love your ideas... I've bookmarked this as we're in the mental health section for nursing and I think this will be very helpful for that too! I've never done well with flashcards but i think this method may just work for me!
  12. by   dtaleton88
    Quote from Heathermaizey
    What I do is make my flash cards and talk it to myself while I am pacing in my living room. lol Sounds silly, but it works for me. I do it for A&P II and Micro. I also make my flash cards the day I get the notes and then review them every day. By the time the test comes, I am thoroughly prepared.
    I do the same thing in my office I pace back & forth, look out the window & stand on the stepper. I find that if I talk it out I grasp it much quicker. I also can hear if I made a mistake and correct it then I write it out. I do that a couple of times per subject trying to see that connection point. Im taking Med Terms so I break down & spell out words that I need to know. If I see the connection I can be more vocal in class and I score very well on the test.
  13. by   diana10
    Really helpful tips. Is it okay if I copy and print this and then post it in my wall (My bedroom wall, that is) as a reminder? I really need this.

    What I do is that I'd write a question down but in different wordings in different cards, keep them in chronological order, then try to answer them as much as I can, separate the ones that I know from the ones that I don't then focus on the ones that I know then shuffle them WAY TOO MANY TIMES. I always had a flash card in my hand ever since I started API. Even when I'm doing my business in the bathroom, I still had flashcards with me. And yet, I still failed my AP.
  14. by   ElizabethH736
    Thanks for the great advice! I made a ton of flashcards for my first Physiology exam, but I put way too much information on them! I will definitely try your approach now and yes....the 10 pages of notes things didn't work out for me...I got a B on my first Physiology exam, but I need an A