How to study anatomy: The ultimate guide
You’re probably reading this article because you want to know how to study anatomy in the easiest, quickest and most pain-free manner. Well, good news - you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we tackle the question of how to study anatomy by looking at the resources available for studying, the frameworks you can use to study and the proven anatomy study tips and learning techniques you might like to incorporate into your routine.
Lastly, we’ll look at how learning anatomy relates to different healthcare specialties, and how you can tailor your studies accordingly. Ready? Let’s dive in.
- Anatomy learning resources: Choosing the right one
- Specific ways to learn anatomy
- Anatomy study tips and learning techniques
- Anatomy careers
Anatomy learning resources: Choosing the right one
You may have already spent some time looking at different anatomy learning resources and found yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Indeed, deciding on the resource(s) you’ll use to learn can be more stressful than learning itself!
In this section, we’re going to walk you through the most common anatomy learning resources, as well as the pros and cons of each. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to decide on the right one for you and your needs.
University lectures, seminars and labs
Of course, if you’re studying anatomy as part of your school or university course, there’s not much getting away from lectures, seminars and laboratories. For those of you to whom this applies, these resources will likely provide the foundation for your anatomy studies.
Unfortunately, for most students faced with the task of learning copious amounts of anatomy, these resources are not sufficient alone.It can be difficult to understand the different structures and connections between them when viewing a cadaver.
And in some cases, professors will only cover certain topics, leaving the onus on you to go and learn everything else in your spare time. In other cases, you might not understand or connect with a particular professor’s teaching approach. This can leave you feeling stressed and discouraged.
Anatomy atlas textbooks
The most common anatomy learning resource is no doubt an anatomy atlas. This can be thought of as an anatomy students’ bread and butter.
There are two main options here. You can choose to use an online anatomy atlas, like the one here at Kenhub. Or, you can take the traditional route and buy a physical, paper atlas.
The problem with a physical atlas is that it tends to be very expensive, and not very engaging to read and learn from. However, some students find them effective. We’ve written balanced reviews of several of the most commonly used anatomy atlases on the market. If you’re thinking about purchasing one, check the reviews out below.
Learning anatomy online
Common ways to learn anatomy online include YouTube videos and online multimedia learning platforms such as Kenhub. There are several fantastic YouTube channels available for learning anatomy. For those who don’t enjoy the traditional textbook approach to learning, they’re a great alternative.
Want to learn fast and effectively from the comfort of your own home? Take online anatomy classes taught by experts.
However, most of them will not offer content on every system or structure you need to learn about. They may also lack crucial details about a topic. These downfalls are especially true of amateur YouTube channels which don’t follow a particular structure, or which are made by students who are learning the topic themselves.
Wondering if online anatomy learning tools like Kenhub are really a match for traditional textbooks? Check out the articles below.
Specific ways to learn anatomy
If reading text on a page feels like a boring and impossible feat for you, videos are a great way to help you engage with a topic. At Kenhub, most of our videos are less than 30 minutes long and cover everything you need to know about a topic, including its detailed anatomy, function, and clinically relevant notes.
As noted above, there are also several good YouTube channels, but these don’t tend to comprehensively cover everything you need to learn for your course. There are also some other online anatomy video resources, like Acland’s Video Atlas of Anatomy. At Kenhub, we have hundreds of videos spanning both anatomy and histology.
Interested to sample our videos? Check out the ones below.
Quizzes are one of our ultimate anatomy study tips. They’re a great way to learn a topic from scratch, or to revise what you already know. Many anatomy exams will include quiz-style questions, making them an ideal way to (literally) put your knowledge to the test before the big day.
Got an anatomy exam coming up? See how quickly quizzes can help you to master your weak spots and master a topic.
At Kenhub, you’ll find quizzes covering basic identification, advanced identification, muscle facts (attachments, innervations and functions) and intelligent mix (a combination of all of the above). Perfect for keeping your knowledge up to scratch when you don’t have the time to read endless pages of your textbook. Try some of our favorites below!
Most seasoned anatomy students will agree that when it comes to the question of how to study anatomy, flashcards are an indispensable resource.
How do they work? On one side of a card, you’ll see an anatomical structure. On the other side of the card, you’ll see the name of the structure along with some extra information about it, such as its origins, insertions and functions. When you see the structure, strain your memory to remember its name. Once you think you’ve got it, flip the card to find out. Simple!
You can try making your own anatomy flashcards, or save yourself time by purchasing them ready-made. Many mainstream anatomy atlases also offer standalone anatomy flashcard sets, including Kenhub. We offer flashcards on the main regions of the body, with terms in both English and Latin. Intrigued? Explore the full range in our anatomy flashcard eBook library.
Similar to textbooks, articles provide you with very in-depth information about a topic. If you require an expert rather than beginner level knowledge of a topic, articles will suit you well. Of course, long stretches of text can feel a little uninspiring.
Our Human Anatomy Study Guide is packed with tips and tricks to help you structure your anatomy studies. Check it out!
That’s why, at Kenhub, we aim to make our articles as fun and engaging as possible. And we think we do a pretty good job! You’ll find key fact and overview tables, supporting videos and atlas images, clinical notes relating to the topic and an easy to follow structure. Check out the ones below to see for yourself.
Anatomy study tips and learning techniques
Anatomy labeling worksheets
A great way to ease yourself into learning a new anatomy topic is with anatomy labeling worksheets. The idea is simple - study the structures you need to learn on a labeled overview image, and then try labeling each structure yourself using an unlabeled diagram. We have several anatomy labeling worksheets available; check out some of our most popular ones below!
Muscle anatomy charts
Struggling to learn muscle anatomy? Along with our 3D muscle function videos, our muscle anatomy charts will help you to learn muscle anatomy with ease. What can you expect from them? Charts divide muscles into body regions and groups, with attachments, innervations and functions clearly labeled.
Browse the full range of muscle anatomy charts below - and grab your free copy of the Lower Limb Muscle Chart!
Coloring books or pages
Colouring books or pages are a great way to help you link anatomical form with function. For example, coloring in the arteries of the legs with a bright red pencil, and the veins in blue, can help you to differentiate these similar looking structures from one another. You’ll form a clear picture in your mind.
However, coloring content doesn’t teach you much actual information about a topic. They are therefore best used as a supplement to other learning resources. The best time to use an anatomy coloring would be after having learned about the structure in question using a more detailed resource, like a textbook, or the videos or articles from Kenhub. After this, you can use the coloring technique to solidify your memory of its form, function and location.
Active recall is one of the most frequently recommended anatomy study tips, and for good reason. This technique should form the cornerstone of your approach to studying anatomy. Just as an atlas is an anatomy students’ bread and butter, active recall is the glue that ties the learning together.
So, what is it? In a nutshell, active recall helps you to learn more efficiently through testing your memory just as you’re about to forget the material you’ve learned. Interested to learn more? Check out the articles below, where we go into more detail about how you can make this technique work for you.
For those who think of themselves as visual learners, a memory palace is an ideal learning tool. Memory palaces are based on matching the material you’re learning to physical objects in an environment you know well. The idea is that you already know the environment well, so linking the objects within it to the anatomy terms or concepts you’re learning will help you to remember the information better. Read more about how you can try it for yourself below.
Thinking about forming a study group? Some students find them helpful, while others don’t. Several factors affect the efficiency of this learning method. Ultimately, it mostly comes down to your personality, the type of material you’re learning, and how you study best. Read our article below to find out whether or not study groups are for you.
Mind maps are a classic anatomy learning technique, and for good reason. Based on the premise of starting with a central idea and branching out related concepts from this, mind maps are a great way to link information together in a logical, efficient manner. You can read more about how to start using mind maps below.
Learning anatomy by playing games is probably not going to turn you into an anatomy master any time soon, but they can be a great way to supplement your learning in a fun and enjoyable manner.
3D anatomy tools
There’s a lot of debate regarding the advantages and disadvantages of learning anatomy in 3D. For some topics, it’s probably much more useful than others. Muscle anatomy is one area where we really recommend learning in 3D. Given that muscles help us move, and muscle movement occurs in a three-dimensional plane, it only makes sense to learn them using 3D tools. Click on the link below to check out our huge range of 3D muscle anatomy videos.
You can also read our review of 3D anatomy learning tools for general anatomy study below.
General anatomy learning tips
Whatever you decide to use, there are some study do’s and dont’s that you should always keep in mind. Procrastination, learning myths, memorization tricks, passing exams… there’s a lot of factors to take into consideration. With the minefield of information that is the internet, all of these things only add to your uncertainty.
Not sure what or how to learn? Filled with tips and tricks, our Human Anatomy Study Guide is a great place to start.
How do you know which advice and anatomy study tips to follow? Well, when it comes to mastering anatomy, the Kenhub team have been there, done that, and written articles with their top tips to summarise how to best get through it all. Check out some of our top picks below.
If you’re working or planning on working in healthcare, there’s no two ways about it: a good anatomical knowledge is essential. But not only is it essential - it will make your life easier! If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already aware of this.
Below, we’ll talk about some of the main healthcare fields where an anatomical knowledge is especially important. Several Kenhub users fall into the below categories. If you’re interested in learning about how to study anatomy first-hand from medical, physiotherapy and other health science students, check our customer success stories.
Anatomy for doctors
Solid anatomical knowledge is so essential for medical doctors that the first year of many medical school curriculums is dedicated to the learning of it! Are you thinking about becoming a doctor, and looking for some information on the application process? Or perhaps you want to start researching the different specialties in medicine? Physician Assistants also need solid anatomical knowledge. Check out some of our articles on these topics below.
Anatomy for physiotherapists
The job of a physiotherapist is all about the functional movement of the body. Indeed, doing this job without a good knowledge of anatomy would be unheard of! Are you interested in pursuing a career in physiotherapy? Check out our article below.
Anatomy for nurses
Similar to doctor’s, a nurse’s first year of study is usually centered on all things anatomy and physiology. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse and wondering how to study anatomy accordingly, you’ve come to the right place. Check out some of our articles below which walk you through the how, what and why of this profession.
So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about how to study anatomy. Now all that’s left to do is actually study! Learning anatomy is not an easy task, but with the right tools and the right mindset, you’ll get there. We hope this article has given you some inspiration on how and where to get started. Good luck!