how to study physiology

How to Study Physiology: 3 Practical Tips to Crush Physiology

Are you struggling with physiology? Do you feel like you just don’t understand the material, or really know how to study physiology? You’re not alone. Studying physiology can be difficult, but it is definitely possible to do well if you follow the right steps. In this article, we will walk you through 3 practical tips you must to know in order to study physiology effectively and get good grades. We’ll cover how to make a study plan, how to approach exams, and how to deal with stress. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to success!

Tip 1: How to Use Books Appropriately

Using Books while learning physiology is a must, but you need to make sure that you are using them in the right way. A lot of students tend to try and read through their physiology textbook from cover to cover, but this is actually not an effective way to learn the material. Instead, it is best to use your textbook as a tool to supplement your lecture notes.

The most effective way to use textbooks in my opinion and what worked well for me is to read them quickly, as in skimming them. Then stopping to re-read the sections that you may have noticed you were struggling with in class, during study groups, or that were pointed out to be critical points from a professor just trying to give you some study tips.

So, use the textbook to help clarify the material, not to read each and every detail .

I highly recommend BRS physiology which is a stripped down and high yield version of Costanzo Physiology.

Tip 2: Should you Use Review Material

Using review material to learn all the necessary physiological processes can make a huge difference in medical physiology.

review material includes practice questions, review books, and other peoples lecture notes.

Using these kind of resources is super helpful because as you transition into clinical medicine the material will stick a lot better. Many students don’t utilize these resources while they study physiology and it leads to lower long term retention, which is not the point of medical school, Med school is supposed to make good doctors, not just good test takers that can crush physiology and a random medical terminology quiz.

Utilizing review resources alongside your most challenging classes like physiology can make a huge difference in your overall success and retention of material.

Tip 3: You should be using Q-Banks

Question banks are super helpful for learning physiology, and really all topics.

Using questions early and often to help you learn critical points and details about the human body and it’s body systems will take your base knowledge to the next level.

Use a qbank alongside your class and go through it as you learn details in physiology, and that information will be in your head for ever!

There are many studies out there that show using question banks and actively recalling information leads to longer retention and better utilization of that information.

How to Study for Human Physiology

The key to studying human physiology is to incorporate textbooks, review material, and practic questions.

Here is the approach that I used to get a 99% in my medical school human physiology course.

I would go to class, watch the lecture and take notes.

Then I would use the costanza text book to learn as much as I could about the topics presented in class.

After I went through the text book, I would then review those topics in BRS physiology.

After reviewing the topic in BRS physiology I would go back to the lecture ppt and my notes and review then details that the instructor of the course thinks is important.

Doing this allowed me to not only begin to know what my professor thought was important, but also go through the most renowned physiology textbook and it’s corresponding review book, BRS physiology that is written by the same person.

Then, after I had done what I outlined above I would go over the questions present at the end of the chapter in BRS physiology. If I was able to get most of those right, then I felt confident that I understood the material and was ready for my course exam.

Sometimes Group Study is extremely useful for physiology

How can I learn physiology by myself?

Learning physiology by yourself really comes down to using the right resources, being consistent, and doing practice questions.

The right resources to use are Costanzo textbook, BRS physiology, and Uworld.

Combine those three resources with consistent studying and you will crush it.

I like to use the above resources in this order:

  1. Textbook
  2. BRS
  3. Uworld

Utilizing them

in that order after spending some time with your lecture notes from class will really solidify your foundational knowledge in physiology and will make all the difference in your medical school experience and your overall experience of learning physiology.

How can I learn physiology fast?

If you want to learn physiology fast, then I highly recommend using BRS physiology.

Reading and studying this book cover to cover is the quickest and easiest way in my opinion to learn physiology fast.

If you don’t want to read a book, then your next best bet is to watch the boards and beyond set of physiology videos.

This is a great resource that can make a huge difference in you life if you don’t like to read and prefer to watch videos instead. Just be careful, as it can lock you into a fairly expensive subscription to the boards and beyond program.

Is physiology good for pre med?

Absolutely! This is not a required course for pre Med students, but it certainly can make a difference in your baseline knowledge going into medical school.

This will give you a great foundation on which to build your medical school knowledge and will make things a lot easier when you have to take more difficult classes like pathology and immunology.

If I could go back and do it again, I would make sure to take a physiology course as a pre Med student. It would have made my life a lot easier!

Do you need physiology for med school?

You don’t have to, as it isn’t one of the prerequisites for medical school, but it will give you a great foundation and make the transition to medical school much smoother.

I would recommend taking at least one physiology course as a pre Med student, if not more. It will be worth your time and effort!

The nice thing is that your grade in this course won’t be heavily scrutinized as it isn’t a required course.

So, this means if you end up taking phys, and not doing well (B or C) then it will bring your overall GPA down, but no-one will go looking for this courses grade on your transcripts.

Because it is a tough course, I recommend you take it the year after you apply to med school, this way a bad grade definitely won’t hurt you at all.

How do I study physiology for medical school?

Studying phys for medical school can be tough, but there are a few key things you can do to make it easier.

First, I recommend getting a copy of Costanzo physiology and BRS physiology. These two books will serve as your foundation for studying phys for med school.

Next, I would recommend watching the Boards and Beyond set of physiology videos. This resource is absolutely essential and will make your life a lot easier.

Last, I would recommend doing as many practice questions as possible. Uworld is a great resource for this, and I would recommend using it in conjunction with the other resources I mentioned above.

If you do all of these things, you will be well on your way to crushing medical school physiology!

Which one is harder anatomy or physiology?

Anatomy is hard because of the sheer amount of memorizing and physiology is hard because of the comprehension.

They are both hard in their own ways, but I personally found physiology to be more difficult.

This is because in anatomy, you can often memorize the material and do well on tests, whereas in physiology you really need to understand the concepts in order to do well.

Great Resources for Studying Physiology

Here is a list of my must haves for studying physiology that made a huge difference for me.

  1. Costanzo Physiology
  2. BRS Physiology
  3. UWorld
  4. Boards and Beyond

You don’t need more than that to do well in physiology, if you spend an adequate time utilizing those resources appropriately then you will end up doing just fine in medical physiology.


In conclusion, following these three tips will help you study physiology more effectively and hopefully lead to better grades. Just remember to make a study plan, use your textbook as a tool to supplement your lecture notes, and use review material to learn the necessary physiological processes. And lastly, don’t forget to take some time for yourself to relax and de-stress! Good luck!

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