Should You Attend or Skip Lecture? (College vs Medical School)


Should you go to class or should you skip lecture and watch the video recordings? Which one is gonna get you the best grade? In this video, we’re gonna cover the pros and cons of each and help you decide which one is best for you. Roll the intro. What’s going on guys. Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. Now, a lot of you have reached out to me and asked me whether or not I went to lecture or wether I skipped and watch the video recordings and I get it, I underst- it’s a very important decision, don’t get me wrong. I experimented with both over my college career. But the assumption there is – incorrect. So the assumption is that based on what I did you should as well. But it depends on multiple factors not only your personality and you know, what works for you based on your strengths and weaknesses, but also that class and what tests you are studying for, or what you’re trying to optimize for. If you’re optimizing for a high class score or a high grade in the class at the end of the quarter or semester, that requires one strategy, whereas if you’re optimizing for a high MCAT score or high Step 1 score that requires a different strategy. Now, I’ll cover what I did a little quickly. When I was in college, I pretty much attended lecture. There were times when I experimented especially during second and third year with skipping lecture and watching the video recordings, but there were a couple issues. Number one is, the recordings weren’t consistent. So I’d say like thirty to forty percent of the time, like a massive proportion of the time, they just didn’t post properly they either weren’t uploaded or they were uploaded but the audio was funky or the video was like out of focus and you can’t see what they were writing on the board. So it just wasn’t really a sustainable option assuming I was you know optimizing for the outcome of doing well in that class. So as a pre-med, usually you want to have straight A’s as much as possible to have the strongest medical school applications. So if I was optimizing for you know, high MCAT score alone and didn’t really care about my class grades, I may have had a different approach. But I was trying to get a high class score and for a lot of those classes you needed to attend lecture to know what they were going to be emphasizing on the test. Now, in medical school, I definitely – well first year I usually attend the lecture, but second year I skipped. Just like as much as I could I would skip lecture. Except for the mandatory small group class like where they take attendance, but lecture – big, you know hundred, two hundred people – just skip it because I was optimizing for a high Step 1 score. So in medical school, it’s usually pass/fail, so your actual class grade isn’t nearly as important. And for that reason, It doesn’t really matter if you go to class and then get those tiny little details here or there, you just want to get good enough score. Whereas doing well on Step 1, that can really determine your future residency match options. So when I was skipping lecture I wasn’t just like fooling around, I was using First Aid or UWorld, these high-yield resources that are designed to help you study most efficiently and effectively for Step 1. All right, so that being said, let’s dive into the pros and cons of each approach and let’s talk about four different categories. So first, we’re gonna go over focus. This one is kind of a draw because there are pros and cons to each approach. So if you attend lecture, you could actually focus more because you are in an environment, you’re in a classroom and, a lot of the factors are kind of – kind of forcing you to pay attention to the lecture there in the middle of the room. There’s you know of some slides and some visuals and other people around you are also probably studying and staying focused. However, if a lot of people around you are rowdy or they’re all on Facebook or checking their email or on Reddit, then you may be encouraged to not stay as focused as well. So pros and cons there. If you are at home, there’s two main benefits. So number one is if you’re too hungover from last night, then you can just wait to you know, listen to the lecture when you’re less hungover, and you can actually focus. Another thing is that some lecturers just speak so slowly. And in those instances, I found myself just daydreaming because they wouldn’t – it would take them too long to get to the point that by the time you – you’ve already figured out what they’re saying, here’s waiting for them to – to finish and get on to the next thing. So my focus would actually decrease with those lecturers. So what I would do is, you know, watch the video recording and speed it up to 1.5, 2X, whatever it is, and then you can actually find that sweet spot where you – you wouldn’t want to go too fast because then your comprehension decreases and it’ – it’s not a race to see who can listen to the podcast the fastest. But at the same time, you want to speed it up to the point where you can actually stay focused. Number two, consistency. Going to lecture obviously has a huge advantage here. You are forced to go to lecture during the scheduled times, and if you’re watching video recordings at home, then it’s really easy to – to think you’re gonna stay you know, on track and – and follow the schedule, but it’s very easy to fall behind. You get sidetracked, you kinda just don’t feel like doing it today next thing you know, you’re one week, sometimes even two weeks behind and that’s not a good position to be in. Number three, time. And this is gonna be really applicable to you. If you’re a very busy person. Maybe you’re juggling a lot of extracurriculars, maybe you’re also studying for the MCAT, maybe you’re just really pushed for time. There are a couple things to keep in mind. Generally speaking, watching the video recording is gonna be more time-efficient than attending lecture in person. So if you do attend lecture in person, it is self constrained to that 60 or 90 or 120 minutes, whatever the lecture length is and you do have the small cost of having to walk to and from class. But hopefully, that’s enjoyable you get a little bit of fresh air you get a little bit of exercise, maybe you socialize a little bit. So it’s not all negative. It’s not just about the time there could be some benefits there. Whereas if you were to just watch the video recordings, you can speed up the lecture. You can go at 1.3, 1.5, 1.7, whatever speed it is that actually decreases the total time it takes to go through that lecture. Even after usually pausing and rewinding and things like that. However, there are a small group of students who focus a little bit too much on every word the professor says and they’ll you know they’ll pause every 10 – 20 seconds and then take their notes and they’re obsessing over every single word, which is not necessary and those students will then take that one hour lecture and make it an hour and a half. Which is a waste of time and your time would be better spent elsewhere. And number four is comprehension. This one is also a toss-up. If you go in class, there are two benefits to your comprehension. Number one is you can just raise your hand and ask the professor, and then number two you can ask the students to your left and your right if they are also paying attention. If instead, you watch the lecture recording you can always pause and rewind and alternatively, you can also just google something really quickly while it’s paused. So in terms of the comprehension benefits, it’s kind of a toss-up. Now that being said, how do you decide for yourself whether or not you should be skipping or attending lecture? First of all how reliable are the recordings? If the recordings are important for you to get a good – you know – class grade and they’re not always gonna work like maybe the audio is broken or maybe you can’t see the whiteboard things like that, then you probably want to err on the side of attending lecture. Number two is discipline and this one requires a lot of honesty on your part. If you are less disciplined, then you should probably be going to lecture, otherwise, you are going to fall behind. If you are more disciplined then more often than not, there are actually more benefits to skipping lecture and watching the video recordings instead. And third what kind of test or outcome are you optimizing for? So if you’re a pre-med for example, you probably want to optimize for getting the best class grade you can. And in that case, you’re gonna kind of you know slide the scale a little bit over to attending lecture. Whereas if you’re trying to optimize for the MCAT or for Step 1, then you want to slide that scale a little bit over to the other side of skipping lecture because standardized tests don’t really rely as heavily on you attending class and understanding every detail. They rely more on you getting those – those core foundational concepts down and you usually get that from other high yield resources, whether that’s other books or online videos things like that. Now be wary of confirmation bias. So maybe you prefer one over the other and it’s totally human and totally natural. It’s a bias that we all face where we will then kind of seek out facts or stories or reasons why that way is better and it’s not actually being objective. We – we are – our bias is coloring our perception and making us think that “oh this really is the best way”. So just because you used to attend lecture doesn’t mean it will always continue to be the best option, and also note that it may just take a few attempts for you to understand what’s best for you. And when you first try a new study routine or a new study strategy, that very first time it’s not going to feel super natural, It may take a couple times for you get into the groove and then really get the maximal benefits. Now that being said if you are going to self-experiment do it intelligently. So if you are struggling with organic chemistry, don’t try a radical new study approach for organic chemistry. Maybe you want to save this new study approach for some other class that’s a little bit easier. That you know you can do well and have a little bit of a buffer in case things don’t work out for you. Anyways guys, I hope you found that video useful. If you liked it make sure you press that like button because it keeps the YouTube gods happy. Sends our video over to other students who may also benefit. As always, thanks so much for watching, much love to you all and I will see you guys in that next one.

42 Replies to “Should You Attend or Skip Lecture? (College vs Medical School)”

  1. Well this depends on whether or not you have a strong study group. For me I did in med school, and that led to higher grades , and board scores and it in turn led to a placement in a strong NY program for anesthesia.

  2. Can you do a video on how to value your time more and stop wasting time? Not tips to save time, but how to change your mindset and what your philosophy on it is.

  3. My goal is to make everything accessable from home so I won't have to leave, I want to be able to do everything from the comfort of my couch, that would be great

  4. Am I the only one watching this knowing very well that my school actually gets attendance and that I remember at least one thing during the exam, even though I didn't study. Even if my school didn't take attendance, I don't think I have the discipline to skip and study on my own.

  5. Currently in nursing school and I skip pretty often. The best decision I've made in undergrad is to NOT have perfect attendance.

  6. I went to class for the first month then switched to Panopto (the recording service my med school uses). You know you crossed into the dark side when you start watching YouTube videos on 1.25-5x too lol

  7. I used to skip lectures with high slids number 😆 or when the Prof. speak too slowly or only read what's written in the powerpoint 🙂🙂🙂

  8. I went to every lecture during my post-bac and did exceptionally well both in classes and on the MCAT. Since starting medical school 2 months ago, I went to every lecture for the first 6 weeks – often finding myself mentally exhausted and unable to study once lectures were over for the day… for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been exclusively watching recordings and have found a) my comprehension is just as good, b) I have more time to spend utilizing/studying outside resources, and c) (most importantly to me) my mental and emotional health has risen dramatically – along with my average hours of sleep during the week (NOT a coincidence, I’m sure!)

    Just my experience, fwiw… 🤷‍♂️

  9. Great content as per usual! Could you make a detailed video on doing research in med school? (E.g. when, how and what type of research should you do; how to get publicized etc.)

  10. I thought I was the only one who had an issue with the slow talking lecturers. I literally have to listen to them recorded and played back quicker otherwise I can't focus or fall asleep (no joke)

  11. I started the year off in genetics going to every class then I took the first exam and got an 80 after that I didn’t go to single class and just started to read the textbook and teach myself got a 96

  12. What about if you are in a graded preclinical curriculum? We pretty much have daily mandatory so I never know whether I should attend or skip… Also does preclinical grades even matter for matching?

  13. I stopped paying attention to almost all class material halfway through 1st year (with exception of anatomy). Just watched Boards & Beyond, anki, Qbanks. Sure I missed questions over little stuff that I missed from course content but way better life/school balance, less stress, and actually got the fundamentals better and scored better. There was a lot less energy used to extract what was important from lectures when I focused on high yield stuff. Also lots of time is spent getting ready, commuting to class etc if you add it up. My style isn't everyone's style but the moral of the story is be meta cognitive about what works for you and don't be afraid to do things that seem like they're "wrong" but make more sense for your learning style.

  14. My husband (he's MS2) tried skipping the class and studying at home first, then he said it's literally impossible to study at home with a 9-month-old baby crying and crawling everywhere. Now he goes to every single lecture and studies for step 1 after the lectures.

  15. In my case, i kinda dont have a choice because we dont have video recording for lectures as a pre-med, and attendance is a must!!! But, preety good point to consider when starting med school!!!

  16. Best in between for me is going to the library because I don't stay on task at home but attending lectures is always less efficient compared to double speeding. Of course, I can only 2x or 1.5x material that I have somewhat familiarity with or have skimmed at least once over.

  17. Some other points I didn't include in the video: does the lecturer read straight off the slides or provide other value? Do you enjoy the lecturer? Is the lecture at a time of day that makes it difficult for you to concentrate (e.g. too early in AM or too late in PM). Best of luck!

  18. Great video! I'd like to add a great piece of advice I was given: If you decide to go to go to lecture, make use of your time. Don't just listen to lecture, but create your flashcards as well. Therefore you're being most efficient with your time. ( Also, to be even more efficient you can utilize the walk to and from classes as time to review your flashcards.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *