One summer I was ambitious and signed up for a condensed Anatomy & Physiology II course. Having just completed Anatomy & Physiology I and Microbiology during the spring semester, I thought just taking one college course over the summer would be a piece of cake. How wrong I was! Learning the major systems of the human body in a full 16 week semester can be challenging for most students. Fortunately, our professor believed in assigning essay styled lab reports. Writing about new and more complex topics is challenging!
A few weeks into the condensed summer session I realized I would not achieve the A I wanted in A & P II without a full commitment to spend every waking moment studying. My professor made it clear to the class that he was not going to grade us any easier just because we chose to take the 'short course.' I vividly recall him announcing during lecture that the endocrine system was probably the toughest module we would tackle that summer. That's when I decided I would learn every aspect of the topic; if possible, I planned to ace the exam, as well as, the lab practical. This professor had a reputation for grueling lab examinations too!
For one lab report, I chose to write a lengthy essay which encompassed the entire endocrine system. Researching medical school websites, scouring the Internet for histology slides became my life for those two weeks. My endocrine lab report was meticulously assembled, and not one of my lines or labels was crooked or blurred. My drawings of each type of cell were precise, my essay was complete, and I knew my subject matter. How could I not know it after being obsessed with adrenal and pituitary glands, estrogen and testosterone hormones, and corticosteroids for 14 days?
The day of the exam, I knew every hormone, each gland, and identified all of the histology photos presented in the lab practical, except one. I was so disappointed to have missed one! Later, I learned that I had earned the highest score of any student our professor had ever tested on the endocrine system module. It was no accident, and it was not easy study material. One of the primary reasons for my success was my choice to write a lengthy essay on the topic. I have learned that writing is one of the best methods for learning and mastering any new subject! So, if you like to write and you need to learn complex concepts--try writing about them, even if it isn't required.