When I first started using Memrise, it was as a fun way to pick up some German for my holidays. At that point, I had no idea it would end up helping me learn to be a doctor!
The idea to mix Memrise and medicine came to me when revising with a fellow medical student, Matthew Caygill. We were trying to find out a way to tackle anatomy, where you learn about all the different bits of the human body. It was proving to be a challenge, with thousands of terms to learn and connections to make – just like a language. Memrise instantly came to mind. Its quiz style format and automatic learning schedule made learning difficult vocabulary a breeze – remembering what I was getting right or wrong, and creating personalised tests to suit my changing ability. Why not try the same for anatomy?
We started off small, building up a course on the thorax (upper chest), including blood vessels, bones and organs. The difference was like night and day. A ten minute planting session was as good as hours spent with a textbook. Funny and interesting ‘Mems’ demystified the Greek and Latin jargon, making our studies much more memorable. It was basically like having our own personal tutor, specifically targeting us with just the right questions to give us the knowledge we needed.
It was around this time that Memrise came out of beta, bringing with it a slew of new features to support more complex courses. With these new tools, we decided to branch out to the rest of our degree’s topics. Alongside image levels for anatomy, we created textual levels for physiology and even embedded some presentations for topics like drug dose calculations. We then formed a study group with other medics, with a common goal of converting lectures into Memrise levels for our ever-growing course.
By the end of the year, we had added over 3,000 terms, covering anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, clinical skills and more. Lectures we had months ago were still fresh in our heads – whenever we were on the verge of forgetting something, Memrise was always ready to throw in a quick reminder. But the real test would come with our end of year exams.
For Matthew and I, revising didn’t involve a single cue card, textbook or presentation: just Memrise. A bit risky, you might think – this was a degree on the line, not a pub quiz! We may well have been the first students to put faith in something so new. Fortunately, it paid off, and we’re happy to say we’re now getting ready for our second year of medical school. Our other members of the study group also saw massive benefits, all progressing to the next year.
Looking back, probably the biggest advantage of Memrise for us was not needing to ‘cram’. It’s generally accepted that the best way to revise is little by little, but it has always been an organisational nightmare keeping all the plates spinning. However, by ‘watering’ our Memrise ‘garden’ a little bit each day, we came into exam week confident on topics we’d been taught about months ago, without needing to flick through notes.
The real icing on the cake, however, is that with Memrise, we can progress through our medical careers with long-term retention of old topics. With new rules governing doctors meaning that practitioners face revalidation of their knowledge, the ability to be kept afloat on education from years past through fun on-line quizzes is a blessing.
In short, Memrise is not only time-saving – it could be life-saving.
Check out their Durham University Medicine (Year One) course