Why Use Speed Listening in Medical School?

Wouldn’t you just love to have a fast-forward button in medical school? Or wouldn’t you just crave for the ability quickly get through the boring lectures that you have every day? Have you ever avoided watching a Pathoma or Sketchy Pharm video because they were too long? What if I told you that you could use speed listening in medical school and cut your studying time in half?

In this post, I will go over how to use speed listening in medical school. I will break down my step by step method that I used for my first two years of medical school. I also break down how I used speed listing to study for my Step 1.

Why Use Speed Listening in Medical School?

Many people get scared away when I mention speed listening in medical school. But honestly, I can’t think of going through medical school without it.  I had so much free time and my grades remained high while using speed listening,

Thus I think speed-listening is something that should be tried by every medical student!

Maybe you’re not a believer just yet. You may argue that it’s hard enough to listen to your lectures at 1x much less increasing that to 2x.

I’d first argue that you don’t remember much of what you hear anyways. The typical saying is that you remember 10% of what you read, 20% of what you see, and 30% of what you hear.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to sit for through an hour lecture only to remember 18 minutes of it.This number is probably even less if you account for how easy it is to phase in and out of paying attention.

But is listening to a lecture at 2x or even 3x even possible?

A 1999 Microsoft study showed how we could comprehend material at speeds “substantially higher” than 2x with as little as 8-10 hours of practice.

That’s only about a week of dedicated practice.

In fact, I’d argue that once you train your brain to listen to 2x, then listening at 3x is a possibility.

Why Spend 3 Hours When You Can Use Only 1.5?

Ask yourself if you rather sit through two and half days of lecture a week, or 5 days?

If you picked five then you lecture hall must have some comfortable chairs.

If you assume that you have three one-hour lectures every day throughout the week, you can use speed listening to give yourself an extra 7.5 hours!

I’ll take 7.5 hours any day! That’s a whole night of rest you could add to your school week.

Once you learn how to hear lectures naturally at 2x, you can even increase to 2.5x (my current speed of comfort) and give yourself an extra free 9 hours a week!

Also, in my post on how to study better with less time (one of the most popular posts on the site), I argue that listening to a lecture is a passive method.

We don’t want to spend 3 hours a day on a passive method in medical school.

Instead, use speed listening in medical school to help you cut your study time in half if not more. Speed listening is a core technique I used to study less than five hours a day in medical school. 

How To Use Speed Listening in Medical School?

So you understand the benefits of speed-listening regarding saving time? But how do you use speed-listening in medical school to do well in your classes?

First, refer to my study better with less time post to understand how to make your current study techniques active vs. passive. Regardless if you use your syllabus, powerpoint, flashcards, or another method, make the approach active from the start.

You can also watch my YouTube video on the topic on my channel!

Then before evening listening to a lecture, use your study technique and understand the structure of the lecture.

This includes the topic, the flow, and the major headlines. The headlines of the lecture are typically the syllabus and/or the Powerpoint headings.

For example, if I were a student using the syllabus to study, then I would skim the chapter the night before. In particular, I would be skimming to understand what the lecture was going to be about, how the information would be presented, and what major topics the lecturer would cover.

In my studying less than 5 hours a day in medical school post, I go over how I prep for classes.

Now when it’s time to stream the lecture, you understand how information will be presented to you. Knowing the flow will be important because now you can be extra focused when a difficult or confusing topic is about to be discussed.

Video Speed Controller To Speed Listen On Your Browser:

So how do you speed up your videos to stream your lectures in medical school faster?

My favorite tool is the free Video Speed Controller extension. Here’s a link to the Google extension.

Using Video Speed Controller, you can speed up any video up to 4x! Technically I think you can watch videos up to 16x but your audio cuts out after 4x. 😀

Once you have the free tool downloaded, you can simply use your keyboard to speed up or down videos.

This works on any HTML5 file, which is almost everything we watch anyway. Thus if you have to watch a Youtube video or training modules for school, Video Speed Controller can speed through them!

Some media platforms such as Youtube and Mediaite (for lectures) have the capability to watch at 2x. The Video Speed Controller is just a great tool to watch them even faster.

Using VLC Player To Speed Listen On Your Desktop:

While Video Speed Controller is a great tool while watching videos online, what do you use if you have videos on your desktop?

I personally love VLC player – a free media player. VLC player allows you speed videos up to 16x! You won’t need to go past 2-3x obviously.

I used VLC player to listen to Golijan and Pathoma videos. Here’s a download link. 

Using Audipo To Speed Listen On Your Phone:

I’ve gotten so used to speed listening in medical school that I use it many aspects of my life. It’s reached my phone.

For medical school, in particular, I would take audio lectures and listen to them on my phone using Audipo. This is a free app for both IOS and Android.

In addition to listening to lectures, I would speed listen to books. For podcasts, I use a paid app called Castbox on my Android. For audiobooks, I use the free Overdrive app.

How to Study in Medical School Less Than 5 Hours a Day:

In my 5 hour study day post, I assumed that someone was watching their lectures a 1x.

But if you use speed listening in medical school then you can easily cut out at least 1.5 hours of studying every day (assuming you have 3 hours of lectures and watch at 2x).

With this extra time, you can use the study techniques in the less than 5 hours of studying post and actually spend 3-3.5 hours a day.

This is what I did every day. Imagine studying for as much time every day as your classmates spend listening to lectures alone! There’s a reason I was a stress-free medical student. Speed listening in medical school has been one of the biggest reasons.

Speed Listening For Step 1:

We’ve already beat the horse to death on how beneficial speed listening in medical school can be.

But how can you use it to study for Step 1?

Let me show you how I did it.

While you can skip UWORLD questions at 2x (although I wish you could),  many resources have video/audio components. For example, Pathoma, Sketchy, and Golijan are all popular Step 1 resources which take time to go through.

I would use speed listening to all these resources. Since they were more high-yield than my lectures, I typically listened to them at 2x (since my current listening level is at 2.5-2.75x).

This helped me to get through several Pathoma videos a night. During my Step 1 prep (read about my experience here) I watched all the Sketchy Micro videos within a week and a half.

I also made a few hour long drives back home during my prep. During these drives, I would listen to the Golijan Pathology audio lectures at 1.5-2x on my Audipo app.

Using speed listening during Step 1 prep allowed me to quickly learn the information. I could then use that extra time to do practice questions (and relax).

Everything In Your Life Will Become More Efficient:

I’ve been using speed listening for so long I can’t remember my life without it.

My fiance will tell you how I used speed listening to watch six seasons of Breaking Bad in about a week and a half. This is binging on steroids. 🙂

Once you develop a comfortable listening speed, you can watch videos on Youtube, Tedtalk, Netflix, etc.

Some may argue that these resources are for enjoyment, so why speed them up? True. But I argue that I can enjoy more content/episodes in the same amount of time.

For instance, as part of my January 2018 mini resolution, my goal is to read a book a week. In January alone I finished six books. As of this writing (20 days into February), I’ve already finished four books. One of them was by speed listening to an audiobook at 2x.

Give speed listening a try and see every aspect of your life speed up.


I hope you enjoyed this post about speed listing in medical school. Even if you don’t think it’s for you, I suggest that you give it a shot just once. You may be surprised what speed your brain can handle information.

If you enjoyed this post about speed listening in medical school than you may enjoy my other posts about productive and studying in medical school as well. You can check out these similar post below:

Studying with a Memory Palace in Medical School
Studying in Medical School: How to Use the Feynman Technique
Studying in Medical School No More Than 5 Hours A Day

If there is something specific you’d like me to address in a future blog post, comment below or email me at themdjourney.com@gmail.com.

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Lakshya Trivedi, TheMDJourney

My name is Lakshya (pronounced Luck-sh) and I’m a third-year medical student at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX. TheMDJourney is my effort to give helpful advice and personal experiences to anyone on a similar journey. It is also my dedicated form of self-reflection and a project I hope to keep on going for a while.