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Anatomy and Physiology Study Tips


Im sure there are some gurus of anatomy and physiology on here, and for the most part I would say many a t man would have a heads up in these classes.
I found myself a bit caught off guard with the Skeletal systems and how fast were blitzing through it and how we are being quizzed in LAB.

SO if you have any tips, guides, methods , materials that have helped you in A AND P I would appreciate hearing from you.


Make flash cards, use mnemonic devices, and put time into studying. The anatomy takes time to memorize, but the good thing is that you can apply the physiology you learn to the anatomy.

Don't just see the structures and remember their names-internalize their actions by visualizing the activities they perform. Drawing them helps a lot. I drew the heart MANY, MANY times until I had the valves and flow of blood down cold. If you can visualize what you are discussing and see the physiologic activities, there won't be many questions they can ask you that you can't logic out.


More or less ever system in the body breaks down in three to five layers. Ie. percardium, myocardium, and endocardium. Dura, arachnoid, and pia mater. If you keep in mind that is the case then you have the basic framework and you'll get an idea if you are missing something.

Also instead of just trying to memorize the terms learn a little Latin so you get the translation. This way you can at least get an educated guess based on the suffix and prefix of a term.

I second having flash cards and drawing out the systems that you are trying to understand. I also found these sites to be excellent teaching tools;



Ah yes, drawing it over and over is one of the best ways of studying anatomy.
Imagine the muscles on your own body, and see what happens if you contract them.
The anatomical terms are in fact VERY logical, so think of why this muscle is called the biceps brachii, vastus lateralis, constrictor pharyngeus,... studying them will be a lot more easy.

To use the heart-example, just talk it through as it would happen in slow motion.

I strongly reccomend the Netter anatomybook, if you'd have to purchase one.

(You can always ask a hot girl to do some in vivo.)


Basically what Flow said. Also, when you got to do the brachial plexus, draw it and label it again, and again, and again, and again... That's the only way you can learn that stuff. The cranial nerves are all mnemonic devices as well.


I'm in second year kinesiology and I've got a mid-term next week and the following week for physiology and anatomy. Fuck I've got one in child and motor development too.

Anyways, I've always been good at anatomy. It's really easy if you go over it a bunch of times. Something that helped me a lot wasn't in fact drawing the bones/muscles, but colouring. I suggest to buy a couple colouring books and colour the muscle and repeat the muscle that you're colouring and you'll learn it that way. Colouring darker is also supposed to help ("studies show").

For physiology, it's just like any other course. You have to understand how this shit works. Don't try to memorize because it's going to bite you in the ass later in the semester. Everything you learn is pretty logical so as long as you think about it you can apply what you know about other things in the body.

Edit: if you have the money, try buying a full sized skeleton. Most likely in your labs you are being quizzed by "bell-ringers"? You go around the lab to a given number of stations..and at each station you have 30seconds or so to write down what bone/groove/tuberosity/head etc. it is. If you have a full body skeleton you can learn a lot that way! Also try buying a poster of one and put it in front of your computer desk. You'll always look at it when you're at your desk.


Acronyms/Mnemonic devices are essential. I've been out of university for several years and can still tell you the cranial nerves using "Oh oh oh to touch and feel virgin girls very soft hands".

Does your program have cadavers? I hope so. Anyway, use them. These people donated their bodies so students could learn from them. The best aid to memorizing anatomy is to actually get in there and see where everything inserts and connects. Its a lot more challenging than looking at the pretty pictures in your 150$+ anatomy book. Plus you'll notice some human variation in where arteries pass and so on. Not everyone is the same.

You "meet" some interesting characters in the lab too. My donor was a really well built guy...I mean, not like bodybuilder-built but considering how emaciated most of the others were. Anyway, guy had a tattoo of a family of cute birds on his left forearm...looked like Disney art from the 40's. On his right forearm, a grim reaper cutting off a baby's head. Nails were painted in alternating black and purple. When we got to his stomach, one of the TA's noticed something shiny. She pulled it out...an engagement ring! Guy swallowed it before he croaked.


Record your lectures and listen back to them.

Most importantly - study every day and keep on top of the material. There are no shortcuts, and cramming for a lab practical can be disastrous.

Just study every day....


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My advice would be to study in the book a bit first (3-5 min on a bodypart, or more depending on the complexity). Then close the book and take a white sheet and copy the structures with their name and their association with other structures (have in mind their function too) from what you remember.

Then correct yourself with the book. Start copying again from blank with your memory and add some new information on every version. 3-5 versions in total and you should remember most of the stuff.

This is how I stay challenged with anatomy and made the information grow in my memory.


This is a good site to learn the muscles.


This is the site dedicated to Holes anatomy, the book I'm learning out of, could help you as well, if not google the title of your book and see if it has a site like this.



thanks for the advice, drawing the pics seems to help.

I also bought a better book, by THIEME which feels 3-d like.


Im just curious as to what the layout of your class and labs were like?
Its really frustrating in lab being handed a list with 120 terms muscle, origin, insertion and action and then have 1 week to get it right.

Its been humbling ( and I guarantee I had more of a base than anyone) my frustration is studying (more like just memorizing ) without having any practical application in class, book or anything.

Its hard to really visualize those insertions and origins despite my best efforts? To me it feels like a really poor design, but then I thought maybe its just me. ?


God... the only class I nearly failed in my entire academic career.

Get to Open Lab AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. That's the only advice I'm qualified to give.


Get Netter's Anatomy Flash Cards. They have origin, insertion, action, and innervation. They worked for me in undergrad and they're working for me in PT grad school.

And always remember: Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can't Handle
(carpal bones)


Haven't you learned anything from TV?

Step 1) Find hot girl

Step 2) Ask to study anatomy together

Step 3) Make babies


I'm a visual learner which means I process information better when I see it as opposed to hearing it. I never recorded lectures in college. If you learn better by hearing the information, recording lectures is a great way to go.

For anatomy I used to rewrite all of my notes neatly (even used four different colored pens.) Seeing and writing them over helped me reprocess all the stuff I had just learned.

Breaking down the study material into groups so that you're not overwhelmed. Then take breaks inbetween studying those groups. For example study all of the bones in the skull.

Take a short break. Move onto a different area. Take a break. Once you feel you have mastered two or three areas, test yourself on it. Only move onto the next area when you have the first two or three memorized very well.

I found study groups very helpful in anatomy & physiology II. Hearing the same thing described differently by others helps grasp the idea better.



I have the Netters and used them extensively. My only gripe with them is that they are sorted by body part and areas. I would have preferred they were sorted by system, since that's how most A/P students learn it.

I also have a handful of bookmarked websites that I used. I always liked websites that use online testing.

Seriously, like others have said, just study some every day, but don't overload yourself. Study in a couple 20-30 minutes burst each day.


thanks for the advice, and to the one that said he almost failed.At least i dont feel alone. I have the hardest time in chemistry and am getting an A. I would of thought I would of been in the opposite position with anatomy.

I guess I treated it like my previous biology classes, and underestimated how much info was in the labs. arrgghh.

Im gonna try some of those techniques, and get the netter cards. I haven't gone to very many open labs so that probably lies in the problem but Im scoring ok on the cadaver part but get jumbled with the insertion and origins. and


Even though it's been said, mnemonics become your best friend in these classes, for example: Virgil can't make my pet zebra laugh. Vomer, concha, maxilla, mandible, palatine , zygomatic, lacrimal (the bones of the face).