After a week of lying around the house, “getting used to” isolation, as I like to call it, and feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I decided it was finally time to start revising for those all important final exams. Except, there was one big problem, I had absolutely no motivation to do much work. I would wake up and just not know where to start, it felt overwhelming that there was so much work to do.
I wanna take a moment to say that it is totally okay to not feel completely normal right now.
After the daunting week of exams after a relaxing Christmas break, you can heave a big sigh of relief that exams are over. Or can you?
If you’re like me, as soon as you leave that hall you’re already second guessing all your answers and thinking about what mark you might get. Just because the exam is done doesn’t mean that the stress has gone away, you’re just stressed about receiving your mark now instead of the task of actually completing the exam. All the while you have to carry on with the rest of your lectures and in-course assessments. The stresses of work can seem never-ending, but its important to remember that even though university is for extending your learning, it’s also about having fun with everything else there is to offer.
Cramming is inefficient but sometimes continuous studying is not gonna happen. There’s no denying it, Imperial like any other research-intensive university requires the utmost diligence to time management, you have coursework, social club activities for downtime which means you need to learn how to prioritise your independent studying – which is the most important part of your course, often worth at least 50% of your degree if not more (for Life Sciences it is 75%). In a way, it’s great because it gives you more time to prep and to give your all after the holidays but because of how vibrant life is at Imperial it also means you don’t have time to study!
I’d love to say I’ve spent all of my easter break revising super efficiently for my exams, but sadly this is not the case. I’ve spent way too much time ‘relaxing’ and was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Paris. The second year of my course, medicine, is rumoured to be the hardest year of them all. Not necessarily because the content is particularly tricky, but because of the timing. Second year so far has been a whirlwind, and now we’ve got three summative exams in the space of five days in early May.
This blog post was never going to be me telling you how to revise for your exams in medical school- I’m simply not qualified to give advice on studying, (especially advice I can’t even stick to) as it truly is very subjective and depends on your own learning style and what works best for you.
As you know, Imperial gives all of us medical students an iPad which we use to get a whole range of resources. This includes eBooks for modules, we complete our sign offs for hospital placements on it and even have revision tools on it. However, this was the first time I have completed an actual end-of-year summative exam on the iPad and it was really interesting.
So the exam was the Pathology exam (5th year exam) on Monday which covered Microbiology, Immunology, Haematology, Histopathology, Chemical Pathology and Ethics & Law. It was 175 questions with 50 of them being very short answer questions (vsa).
It really is that time of year again…the stress levels are rising and 5th year exams are approaching. We have about 6 weeks left until our first exam and although that sounds a while away still, there is a lot to cover. On top of this, we are still attending our hospital attachments daily.
I wanted to share with you a few resources that I am using to help me through this revision period this year, hopefully it can help anyone else revising for clinical exams and not sure where to start!
Brainscape: Imperial Medicine students past and present have made flashcards on this amazing app that is a great revision tool.
However much you might try to think you make the best use of your time, I’m sure that there’s always some time during the day when you sit there not quite getting on with your work but pretending that you are. As a particularly keen procrastinator, especially when I find the work difficult, here are some of the ways I’ve managed to get through tough revision periods avoiding procrastination.
Make a timetable with not more than 45 to 90 mins revision sessions at a time. Don’t just write down what subject or module you will be studying, include key details of what particular topic, or which past paper you will do in this time.
…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.