Learning enumerations

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Question:

I'm a 5th year med student. I've been working with SM2004 for a week to learn two subjects. For one of them (Trauma & Orthopedics) I’m trying incremental reading and I’m already amazed by the results.

For the other one I’m just doing the usual reading, underlining, etc and then making items out of the main concepts. The problem is that in this particular subject (microbiology) i need to remember a lot of little details and (the worst) sets. I've tried cloze deletion for enumerations and ended up creating more than 150 items for a 5 pages long article... I'm a bit worried that these are too many, especially since I should be studying 15 pages/day just for this subject (and keep working on the other one as well). In the microbiology test I have to pass there are multiple choice questions (so i need remember the little stuff) and open questions (so I have to know a lot of sets). Here's an example of what I'm doing:

[Q1] Pathogenic factors of E. histolytica:
- [...]
- Adhesion factors
- Invasion factors
- Mobility
- Histolysines
- Toxins
- Factors depending on the host 
[Q2] Pathogenic factors of E. histolytica:
- No. of parasites
- [...]
- Invasion factors
- Mobility
- Histolysines
- Toxins
- Factors depending on the host
[Q3]...

Do you think I'm overusing redundancy by trying to learn enumerations with cloze deletion? Would it be a better approach to make open questions and try to memorize the set? Should I keep using cloze deletion and rebuild my collection when I pass this exam?

Answer:

Your clozes aren't too good. They translate to a question: "What is the second pathogenic factor on the list of pathogenic factors compiled by Author X". This is not exactly what doctors know however good they are. You would do far better by translating that to very particular medical skills by answering to "Why can E.h. do this?" "Why can E.h. do that?", "How can E.h. do ...?", etc.

Alternatively, you could just import some nice article about E.h. and process it with incremental reading. If your teacher insists on knowing those specific enumerations you could commit sin #1 of learning by cramming them (classical way) just for the exam (last two nights :), and using SuperMemo only for material that will stay with your for many years. After 2-3 months of learning, you will see that you are not likely to be able to retain such enumerations without a major struggle.

Medical schools are notorious (probably Gold Olympic Medal) for asking you to learn far more than is humanely possible. Hopefully, SuperMemo will help you measure your progress and rationalize the process.

see also:

for some examples how enumerations and sets can be tackled incrementally


good luck

comment

This item looks formidable:

[Q1] Pathogenic factors of E. histolytica:
 - [...]
 - Adhesion factors
 - Invasion factors
 - Mobility
 - Histolysines
 - Toxins
 - Factors depending on the host 

You have to read the whole list of possible "pathogenic factors" and then guess which one is missing. As the nearest doctor if he would be able to answer.