How To Study Pathology The Right Way- Study Tips For MBBS Medical Students

Pathology is one of the important subjects in Medicine.

It was after our final internals that my friend said to me that she had no idea how to study pathology and that she was failing every pathlogy exam.

I found pahtology difficult as well.

I agree it is a vast subject with lots of concepts and facts involved, but if you are ready to study the subject in a bit more systematic method, it doesn’t have to be difficult anymore.

So here are some study tips on how to study medical pathology.

What is medical pathology?

Simply put, it is the study of diseases.

And what we learn in pathology are the various diseases, their causes, clinical manifestations, and the structural changes it brings about to the organs and organ systems in the human body.

How to study medical pathology tips for mbbs students

Which textbook should I read for medical pathology?

WI’d recommend going with Robbin’s Basic Pathology, or if you feel like pushing your boundaries, Robbin’s Pathological basis of Disease.

These are standrd textbooks, of course.

If you want an exam preparatory manual, I’d say Ramdas Nayak or Harsh mohan.

How to study pathology as a MBBS medical student?

There are various attributes that define a disease, and it’s important that you study a disease under these attributes (subheadings).

• Etiology of a disease

• Pathognesis

Basically how the disease evolves- here we look int o the microscopic  as well as macroscopic mechanism of a disease or condition.

Learn the concise points only- this will help you memorize better.

• Morphology

The structural changes that occur to the organ/organ system as a result of the diesease.

If you learn the morphology using pictures and diagrams, better chances of you retaining the memory.

Try to associate the morphological changes with the pathogenesis.

• Clinical features

How the person with the disease presents with; the one factor which help us reach the diagnosis of a disease as a clinician.

It will be better if you learn the manifestations first- then think back on pathogenesis.

Because in reality for the correct diagnosis, you have to identify the symptoms first.

• Diagnostic methods

The various methods by which the initial diagnosis is confirmed.

• Treatment

The various treatment methods: eg. pharmacological, surgical.
(In exams this is a point to include where you can earn extra marks)

Initial reading

The first time you read about a disease, do not focus on writing notes or learning it by heart.

Focus on what you are reading.

Read and memorize the pathogenesis like a story- for example, in this order given below:

  • The causative factors/organisms
  • how they reach the body
  • the target site of action
  • molcular changes
  • results of these molecular changes
  • gross changes
  • manifestations of these gross changes

Ask qustions to yourself

Do you know how kidney failure produce anemia?

Or why anti-worm drugs are given in certain cases of cough and respiratory symptoms?

The best way to learn about a disease is to ask the important question to yourself:

Why do I need to know about this disease?

For a perfect diagnosis, of course.

Now to actually learn about a condition, you can pretend to ask The Disease itself all the wh- questions.

If you ask the who, how, where, when, what questions, you’ll get answer to the pathogenesis of the disease.

Like these:

  • who causes the disesse?
  • how do they cause it?
  • which part does it involve?
  • when does it manifest?
  • and so on

This way you’ll get an idea about what you are reading.

Write down notes

Its after the first reading that you have to write notes.

Now you will know what the key points are and how to structure them in a seamless manner.

Wrie down the notes in the light of what you understood from reading.

Add your own key points or highlight what you feel is important.

Writing notes is actually optional, but it’s definitely helpful for revision sessions. Seriously I can’t even read 5 pages of Robbin’s in one sitting 😅

Second reading

This time don’t read the textbook line by line- its a waste of time at this point.

Instead, go through the annotations or notes that you’ve made.

Pathology study tips for medical students

Read the topics that you feel are not very clear to you.

If you’ve missed any points, this is the time to note them down in your notes. And you are never going to forget these extra points at all!


If you have followd these methods, you’ll have a pretty good idea about the topic.

Now all you have to do is keep revising what you’ve learnt.

Spacing your revsions will do good for you because you won’t let your memory curve hit zero- if you want to know more about spaced repetition, watch these videos from Mike & Matty.

They have been so helpful to me to find my study method.

Other resources

You can use other options like:

  • Pathoma
  • Osmosis
  • Medimagic
  • Youtube videos
  • Marrow

Phew! That was my take on how to study pathology.

What do you think?

Are there anymore study tips in your mind? Comment below!!

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