Creating a Personalized Study Schedule with AI

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With the launch of chatGPT, OpenAI’s conversational language model, we have been wondering what kind of interesting uses this new technology can provide for medical and premedical students. We have written two opposing views on whether it will be a good tool for writing a personal statement for medical school or residency advising which you can read here, and here, and we have written about chatGPTs potential use in writing USMMLE style practice questions. Another potential use for for medical and premedical students which we explore in this post is whether AI bots such as chaGPT are able to create and customize a personlized USMLE study schedule. And so we have decided to try this tool out for ourselves and attempt to use chatGPT to create our own USMLE study schedule. Read on to learn what we found out!

One of the key benefits of using AI in USMLE preparation is the ability to create a personalized study schedule. By inputting information about their individual strengths and weaknesses, goals, and preferences, medical students can use AI algorithms to generate a study plan that is tailored to their specific needs. This technology has recently been used in medicine to great effect. AI was used for scheduling anesthesiology shifts over a 6 month period which resulted in higher physician satisfaction and lower anxiety especially during COVID-19. (https://www.asahq.org/about-asa/newsroom/news-releases/2022/01/using-ai-to-create-work-schedules-significantly-reduces-physician-burnout).

 

Similarly ChatGPT, an AI platform provided by OpenAI can be used to make highly specific USMLE or MCAT study plans. ChatGPT is a variant of the GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) language model developed by OpenAI. It is specifically designed to generate human-like text in chatbot applications, and can be fine-tuned for various tasks such as question answering, translation, summarization, and in our case for generating study schedules. For example, a student who is particularly strong in surgery practice questions but weaker in cardiovascular disease topics may want to focus their studying on the cardiovascular questions. AI algorithms can take this information and generate a study schedule that includes more time for studying cardiovascular disease questions, as well as specific study materials and practice questions that are relevant to this topic.

 

Additionally, AI can be used to adjust the study schedule as the student progresses. If the student is struggling with a particular topic or finds that they are making more progress in a different area, the AI can update the study schedule to reflect these changes. This can help ensure that the student is always focusing on the most important and relevant material, and that their study time is being used as effectively as possible.

 

How to Get Started

 

With ChatGPT, the more detail the user gives, the better the output. To get the best possible results enter the following information:

 

 

  1. If you already have a model schedule, you can just enter it into the chat and start making changes to it based on suggestions from the AI. If you have no schedule to use as reference, start from step 2 below.
  2. Study length and study duration: Write down the number of hours you want to study each day and number of weeks of study time. This is important because it gives the AI the limit to the amount of time you want to dedicate to studying in a day. You can also add break time to this and ChatGPT will incorporate it into your schedule and give you an exam schedule with study goals broken down by day of the week and time of day. Sometimes, it might just give you the breakdown by day or hours in which case you can simply request for it to break it down the way you want it to. 
  3. UWORLD Questions: If you want to complete around 4000 UWORLD questions by the end of week 5 of your studying on a 6 week schedule, ChatGPT will calculate how many you should do in a day within the above time frame. Also, enter the amount of time it takes you to do one UWORLD question on average so that the AI can make sure you can finish the required number of questions a day to finish the qbank by your goal date. Remember to ask the AI to give you time to review incorrect answers as well. 
  4. Flashcards(e.g. Anki) & Visual Mnemonics (e.g. Sketchy): If you want to complete a certain amount of spaced repetition each day, Anki will add that to your schedule as well. Same goes for visual memory systems like Sketchy. 
  5. Practice Exams: Specify by which week you want to have specific NBME practice exams done. ChatGPT will space these out as per your expectations. 
  6. Review Texts (e.g. First Aid): If you wish to complete first aid in its entirety, enter the total page count you want to cover and again ChatGPT will split this into digestible segments over your USMLE study schedule. 
  7. Other resources you might want to add: If there is still time left in your daily study hours, you can fill it with any other resources you wish to use such as podcasts, videos or another qbank like AMBOSS. 
  8. Fine tuning: If you want to make adjustments based on strengths and weaknesses identified from your practice questions or exams, you can say something like; “ Can you include 10 cardiorespiratory questions each day in my study schedule as that is a weakness. ChatGPT will make the necessary adjustments while keeping you on track with your master USMLE study schedule. Alternatively, you could input a detailed score breakdown from a UWORLD exam and then ask the AI to use that data to make changes to your schedule. Note that you should keep giving the AI constant feedback during your schedule optimization process and it will steer its output in the direction of your expectations. This can be done by selecting the thumbs up or down icon associated with each answer the AI generates. Since the chat can be saved indefinitely, the AI will remember all previous conversations and will incorporate feedback from before to generate schedules that are the best fit for you.There is also a “regenerate response” feature in the chat which can help generate alternative answers to queries. Use this, to arrive at results that meet your needs better.You will notice that ChatGPT has a word limit to its responses (around 650 words), so you might have to ask your questions in pieces to generate your final schedule. 
  9. Finally, you can ask a tutor to look at your study schedule to make sure that your weaknesses are being addressed by the AI generated schedules. The AI is not flawless and does make mistakes so having an extra set of eyes can help in optimizing result accuracy.

 

A Couple of Downsides to Using ChatGPT for Customizing Your USMLE Study Schedule to Keep in Mind

 

While chatGPT can be a great tool for many things, it is NOT perfect, and there are a few downsides you should keep in ming before making it your primary tool for creating your study schedule:

  1. It only knows as much information about you as you provide. As we’ve stated, the more information you provide, the better, but this leaves a glaring issue in play here. You may not be aware of some of your own weaknesses! For this reason it’s always recommended to have a tutor or mentor help you look over your study schedule, go over practice questions with you, and consider which blind spots you may be missing.
  2. While researching chatGPT’s potential for creating practice questions, one problem which kept coming up was that it does not know which material is high-yield, and therefore doesn’t properly weigh it. This requires you to know what is more high-yield and provide that feedback during the customization process.
  3. ChatGPT sometimes provides incorrect or misleading information. ChatGPT is a language model with a focus on creating convincing human like text. While it does usually provide correct information, that is not the focus that it was designed for, and our team has come across instances of it providing incorrect or misleading information in the past. This may be less of an issue for creating a study schedule, as you will presumebly be using other resources while actually studying, but is always important to keep in mind while using chatGPT. You ALWAYS have to double check any factual information it provides.

 

AI can be a valuable tool for creating a personalized study schedule for the USMLE. By taking into account the individual needs and goals of each student, AI algorithms can generate a study plan that is tailored to their specific needs, and can adjust and update the plan as the student progresses. This can help medical and premedical students make the most of their studying time and increase their chances of success on the USMLE.

For more customized help creating study schedules, identifying content gaps and help adopting effect study habits and test-taking strategies, consider enlisting the help of a 1-on-1 USMLE tutor! Schedule your complimentary consultation here!

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