Do study strategies predict academic performance in medical school?

Med Educ. 2011 Jul;45(7):696-703. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.03929.x.


Context: Study strategies, such as time and study management techniques, seem to be consistently related to achievement even when aptitude is controlled for, but the picture is not entirely clear. As there is limited research in this area, we explored the relative strengths of academic aptitude, as measured by the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) and study strategies, as measured by the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI), in predicting academic performance in 106 students in the first semester of an integrated curriculum.

Objectives: Our purpose was to determine whether relationships could be identified between academic aptitude, study strategies and academic performance which would enable us to provide students with feedback in certain skill areas in order to maximise achievement.

Methods: Data analysis consisted of four multiple regression analyses. The criterion variables were: semester overall final average, semester written examination average, semester practical examination average, and percentage correct on a customised National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) examination. The predictor variables in each regression were: MCAT score; UGPA; and subscores on the 10 LASSI subscales for Anxiety, Attitude, Motivation, Concentration, Information Processing, Self-Testing, Selecting Main Idea, Study Aids, Time Management and Test-Taking Strategies.

Results: The results of three regressions indicated that two study skills, time management and self-testing, were generally stronger predictors of first-semester academic performance than aptitude.

Conclusions: Improving the prioritisation and organisation of study time and teaching students to predict, compose and answer their own questions when studying may help to advance student performance regardless of student aptitude, especially on course-specific examinations.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • College Admission Test
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Educational Status
  • Forecasting / methods
  • Humans
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Test Taking Skills*
  • Time Management / organization & administration
  • Time Management / psychology