Study Tips

8 Science-Backed Learning Strategies Osmosis Uses to Help You Study Smarter

Osmosis Team
Published on Jul 9, 2020. Updated on Sep 24, 2020.

At Osmosis, it’s our mission to empower the world’s clinicians and caregivers with the best learning experience possible. We’ve worked hard to ensure that as learning methods evolve, so does the Osmosis platform. Here's a brief exploration of the learning science methods on Osmosis that help you study smarter.

Learning science is defined as “an interdisciplinary field that works to further scientific, humanistic, and critical theoretical understanding of learning as well as to engage in the design and implementation of learning innovations, and the improvement of instructional methodologies.” 

The Osmosis Research team has spent many hours exploring the cognitive science that helps people learn most effectively. If you're interested in learning more about this research (and reading some articles published by academics on the Osmosis team!) check out out our Research page

Here are some strategies to help you learn and succeed in your education as a future health professional.

Retention techniques

Retention techniques are designed to help you remember information for the long term. Here are some of the retention techniques that help Osmosis learners recall crucial information on exams and in the clinic.

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition occurs when learners repeat retrieval of knowledge at increasing intervals to reduce forgetting and enhance long-term learning. Osmosis uses a spaced repetition algorithm to quiz you on information you've reviewed at optimal times, so you can remember it for the long term.

The act of retrieving knowledge activates multiple concepts and reorganizes learning. Spacing out retrieval over time causes cumulative gains in retention and ultimately lifelong knowledge.

Osmosis Flashcards are so effective at making information stick is because they use a spaced repetition algorithm: read more about Osmosis Flashcards here.


Testing effect

Answering questions will strengthen memory. It’s also called test-enhanced learning or retrieval practice, and it’s a form of active learning.

When you search for answers to assessment items, this activates multiple concepts related to the answer and improves the organization of knowledge once the item is answered. The act of testing without feedback enhances learning in itself, although including high-quality feedback enhances learning even more.

When you quiz yourself with practice questions or flashcards on Osmosis, you're putting the testing effect into action.


Memory palaces 

Remember a physical location to help you recall abstract information. Our brains are better at remembering things in if they’re situated in identifiable locations. If you've ever watched any of our Pharmacology videos, the mind maps at the end of each video (created by our Director of Instructional Design, Dr. Yifan Xiao) are similar in concept.


Interleaved practice

Interleaved practice, or "interleaving", is a strategy where you mix up the order of the topics that you’re studying instead of reviewing them in blocks.

Interleaving concepts allows easier comparisons and the ability to discriminate between concepts and transfer general concepts to specific examples. It also encourages retrieval from long-term memory, in contrast to studying only one concept at a time, where the information can stay in short-term or working memory before being forgotten.

This technique is perfect for board exam prep (whether you're studying for USMLE® Step 1, USMLE Step 2, or the NCLEX-RN) and is why we'll sometimes quiz you on seemingly-random items from the past in your flashcard or question bank queue.


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Learning techniques

Learning techniques exist to help you develop a foundational understanding of a topic. Once you've learned a piece of information, you'll be able to apply that knowledge in other areas. Here are some learning science techniques Osmosis uses to help you develop a strong understanding of essential topics in human health.

Multimedia learning 

Optimize your learning using different sources of information through text, graphics, and video. Osmosis learners can study effectively using a combination of videos, flashcards, practice questions, and High-Yield Notes.


Blended learning

Combine online resources with in-person instruction to create a more personalized learning environment. Traditional lecture content is typically available outside class time with team or project-based learning happening in the classroom. Blended learning often applies flipped classroom methods—learn more about those in this article!


Problem-based learning

A collaborative approach built around solving a complex real-life scenarios you might come across in a professional setting. Many questions start threads of information that evolve into a web of knowledge. Osmosis enables collaboration with classmates through our shared Workspaces tool.


Adaptive learning

Material changes based on performance. It’s often automated and driven by technology. This approach can help facilitate learning with real-world problems.


Other learning science resources on Osmosis

Learning science is a vast field of study, and we've only scratched the surface.To learn more about these learning sciences and take a more hands-on approach to implementing these into your learning, Osmosis offers a few resources:

How to Learn in the Health Professions Textbook

Available now on the Osmosis Bookshop, How to Learn in the Health Professions is one of our most popular titles. Authored by Osmosis's Research Director, Dr. Sean Tackett, How to Learn in the Health Professions helps Health Sciences faculty and students become better learners and teachers by sharing methods that have been shown to improve learning.

Get your copy of How to Learn in the Health Professions here!

Osmosis How to Learn in the Health Professions textbook.

Learning Science videos playlist (How to Succeed in the Health Professions)

We've included some learning science videos in this article, but you can find even more on Osmosis Prime. Explore the full playlist by clicking the image below.

Osmosis Learning Science playlist.

How to Learn in Medical School course

Last year, Osmosis developed a six-module crash course to help better prepare students for the firehose of information they're expected to drink from in medical school. Here's a brief outline:

  • Module 1: What learning is, and how learning works
  • Module 2: How to develop routine and adaptive expertise
  • Module 3: 6 practical methods proven to enhance learning
  • Module 4: How to prepare for high-stakes examinations
  • Module 5: How students can learn by teaching their peers
  • Module 6: How to survive medical school and prepare for residency
As an Osmosis Prime member, you can take this course completely free, and access all of the other resources that make Osmosis the most powerful tool for learning medicine and the health sciences.


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