…makes Jack a dull boy, or so they say.
What about exams though? Where do exams fit into that adage?
My first week this term was taken up with exams – my first for a few decades, so I was feeling a little rusty. However, I’m running far too far ahead of myself: before we get to the exams, who remembers revision?
I embarked upon my revision programme eagerly enough, drawing up a schedule for revising ten topics, spread over ten days or so, with slots for trial questions from past-papers, other periods dedicated to recap and summarising, and even timed mock-exams to complete entire past-papers under pseudo-exam conditions.
I have absolutely loved this year so far. I have been doing a BSc in Global Health here at Imperial- so essentially taking a compulsory “year out” of medicine to learn in depth about a topic that interests you. My module 1 focused on Global Infectious Diseases, Module 2 focused on Global Non- infectious diseases and now I am doing Module 3 which is essentially everything else (health systems, technology..)! The whole degree is very student led, with a lot of our teaching time being interactive. We have debates on global mental health issues, have discussions about the history of sex workers and their health, and then we also learn how to critically appraise and analyse the global health learnings and research.
We just completed 3 out of our 4 second year exams (last one is end of June). Pushing through to get to the end required so much stamina. Don’t get me wrong, I have done exams before and have been used to the stress of exams however these exams were something different to what I had experienced before. It was just so much volume, SO MUCH VOLUME.
To summarise what we needed to revise over easter once lectures had finished:
No more lectures! Indeed we have finished teaching for first year and I think it’s fair to say that at the end of the year most people are questioning their choice for studying medicine in the first place. Yes, it is so interesting and fun…but exams are…well…soon.
I have seen an awful number of people having breakdowns in the library, and spoken to a lot of friends who are getting so anxious they may even be heading towards having an abnormal ecg…(omg I am so funny). So, here are a few types of revising first year medics we have come across this term…
1) The ones that “don’t” revise
They don’t revise!…well…not during the day anyway.
We all have unreasonable expectations about how much we will be able to revise during the day. We wake up with a “LET’S DO THIS” attitude that seems to dwindle before you have even made it down for breakfast.
A few years ago my dad gave me some ‘advice’ before exam revision began.
“There are 24 hours in a day. Take away 8 hours for sleep that leaves you with 16 hours. Minus time for eating your 3 meals and you are down to 14 hours. Maybe minus an hour for general faffing around and toilet breaks and you are left with a solid 13 hours to revise.”
I had nothing to respond to this and I am sure one day I may be able to fulfil this 13 hour day I dream of being able to conquer.
I have sought advice over the past few weeks from various “elders” of the medical school with the mission of finding the best advice possible to do well in first year medical exams. I have compiled the advice together and hopefully you will be helped as much as I was. Note: Most of this advice is generally unhelpful.
“Fear not young freshers, it only gets worse. Brave through exams and be prepared for worse in years to come”
“Don’t work, freshers!!! You can’t fail first year…well…okay you can. Maybe do some work…okay work hard.”
I am PLODDING through revision. I looked over a lecture today on obesity and it discussed obesity in twins…
It got me thinking about an investigation NASA has planned to do with twins in space which you may/may not know about. NASA will embark on a year- long mission in March 2015 when they send Scott Kelly to the International Space Station and his twin brother Mark will remain on Earth. As a medic (who is currently revising genetics…) I find this really interesting as they are going to be studying the effect of different environments on two people with the same genes for a whole year.
This week in anatomy I spent minutes trying to find my pulse…yes that thing that I can normally feel without any grief whatsoever. I thought I was dead for a split second, but swiftly told myself that this was probably not at all the case. I persisted on until I found it, and when I did I felt my pulse was pretty elevated. I had been anxious over not finding my pulse when it was pretty clear from the start that I was going to have one.
I think it just reflects my mind set at the moment…and a lot of first years I have spoken to.
We have been getting results back from our formative exams/tasks over the past couple of weeks and I recently received this question:
“Dear Mala, I heard that every first year medic fails January exams at Imperial. Is this true because I don’t want to fail. Do first year medics even do any work?”
In short…the pass rate was around 58% in our year. For those of you that don’t know, formatives are basically “mock” tests that we have to gauge how well we are doing so far. They are supposed to give everyone a metaphorical ‘kick up the aorta’ and thus work harder.