6 Most Difficult Courses in Medical School [Popular Opinion]

Share This Post !

We all have different experiences with the various subjects offered in medical school.

While some medical students consider some medical school subjects to be more difficult, some tend to find these same subjects to be easier to comprehend.

So we really cannot come to a consensus with regard to the most difficult courses in medical school.

However, based on some popular opinions and my own life as a medical student, I have come to realize that medical students generally find some subjects to be more difficult than others.

This does not necessarily mean that these other courses are walk-overs. These 6 courses listed below are just considered to be more difficult compared to them.

Table of Contents

The 6 Most Difficult Courses in Medical School

most difficult courses in medical school
hardest courses in medical school

This list is not just based on how difficult it is for students to understand the course, but also based on the difficulty level of the professional exams in these courses and the clinical rotations.

To make things fair, the hardest subjects in medical school will be classified based on the various classes they are offered; 3 from pre-clinical and 3 from clinical courses.

“Take a medical terminology course, (Like the ones listed here) to make understanding some medical terms a bit simpler”.

List of the hardest subjects in medical school:

  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Neurology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurosurgery

Medical Biochemistry

medical biochemistry - hardest courses in medical school
most difficult courses in medical school

Most medical students when they first heard of medical biochemistry must have thought that it would be similar to the organic chemistry we learned during our high school days. But they ended up being disappointed by the numerous biochemical pathways which they had to memorize.

What is most annoying about medical biochemistry is that we ended up not actively using most of those pathways in clinical practice. I last heard of pathways like the ‘Pentose phosphate Shunt’, ‘Urea cycle’ and the ‘Carnitine shuttle’ during our 2nd professional exam in biochemistry, and never again all through my clinical years in medical school till I became a doctor.

I am not forgetting the pathways for nucleic acid synthesis that took away my early morning hours but never heard of again immediately after my 1st continuous assessment in biochemistry. Most medical students passed their medical biochemistry exams through mindless cramming that has yielded very little fruit to date.

Also, according to a recent survey, most medical students preparing for USMLE Step 1 agree that medical biochemistry is the most difficult class in medical school.


hard courses in medical school

I don’t know if this one is a personal bias, but I generally find courses that have to deal with the brain a little off.

No, understand me! Neurosurgery was part of the reasons why I chose to study medicine.

Also, I am a nerd in psychology and general topics related to how the mind works. Still, when it comes to the study of the structures, functions, dysfunctions, and treatment of diseases affecting different parts of the nervous system, I usually have a hard time remembering them.

Human Anatomy

human anatomy
most difficult courses in medical school

Anatomy is the first demon most medical students encounter in medical school.

Differentiating medial from lateral, proximal from distal, superior from inferior, Magnus from minimus, inferior-medial from super-lateral…All these make fresh medical students give up early on the course.

Not to talk of Neuroanatomy; the most nightmarish of all anatomy topics.

But is anatomy the hardest class in medical school?

No! Most medical students initially have a hard time with anatomy due to a lack of proper orientation.

But with time, they come to love and study anatomy even more than other subjects in preclinical classes. This is after they must have gotten the best resources for studying human anatomy and have started watching anatomy videos from the recommended YouTube Channels for medical students.

While in medical school, I had my least score ever in Embryology and Gross Anatomy. But I also had my best scores in these two courses following subsequent continuous assessments and exams. This happened because I learned how to overcome subsequent failure in medical school exams after having an initial poor score on a test.


Pharmacology - hardest subjects in medical school
hardest subjects in medical school

A good number of medical students actually voted Pharmacology as the hardest course in medical school.

Their reason is obvious; the volume of drug names and different classes of drugs to cram coupled with their mechanism of actions, uses, and side effects.

But there is one thing I experienced with pharmacology; I generally find it complex and difficult to cram drug names and know their mechanism of action, but whenever I write a test in pharm, everything generally seems easy.

I don’t know if it is the same for everyone else, but the fact still remains that Pharmacology is still among the toughest subjects in medical school that gives most medical students a tough time.


Pediatrics - most difficult subjects in medical school
most difficult courses in medical school

Pediatrics is unnecessarily difficult; very uptight consultants and professors. But their explanation is that it’s because they deal with children so they have to be meticulous in every way.

The most frustrating part is that you need to re-learn most of the dosages of medications you have already known in adult medicine, and the clerking is a nightmare on its own. Like how do you examine a child who has been crying for hours during your professional exam?

And of course, no one wants to know who clerked who; you will be assessed in the same manner as someone who clerked a 16-year-old child.

Apart from all these, Paediatrics is a very sweet course especially if you are very good with children.


hard courses in medical school

Another brain-related course! Neurosurgery is not particularly hard once you have good foundations in Neuroanatomy.

Neurosurgery is listed as one of the most difficult courses in medical school because of the long hours during surgery rotations and long ward rounds. You really must be strong and resilient if after doing Neurosurgery rotations you still consider it as an option for specialization.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the hardest subject in medical school?

Based on popular opinions from medical students, medical biochemistry is considered the hardest class to take in medical school. The reason is that there are lots of pathways and chemical reactions to learn.

What is the hardest class in medical school?

The 2nd professional exam class (2nd MBBS class) is widely acknowledged to be the most challenging for medical students due to the fear of falling out of medical school. This is how it got the popular name; the rate-limiting step in medical school.

What are the Easiest Courses in Medical School?

Just like there are some subjects in medical schools that most students find difficult, there are also some other subjects that most medical students find easier. Based on popular opinions, the following are the easiest subjects in medical school.

The easiest subjects in medical school include:

  • Medical physiology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Chemical Pathology and
  • Hematology

Related: 8 Best physiology textbooks for MBBS


Generally, all classes are difficult in medical school. This list of the most difficult courses in medical school and the hardest class in medical school is just based on personal experience and observation. It is not backed up by a scientific study, just based on popular opinions by medical students in a given medical school and from recognized online sources.

This post is not meant to discourage you while approaching any of the above-listed medical courses; you may end up finding some of these courses easier than they are made to appear here.

Having read this, I would like to know your personal opinions.

What are your hardest subjects in medical school based on your own experience?

Also, share your responses in the comment!                                              

Share This Post !

Medical Education Website created to enlighten, inform and inspire!

Articles: 140

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.