i struggle with destiny
and the feeling that
perhaps i was never destined for much.
i struggle with destiny
and the feeling that
perhaps i was never destined for much.
Not only did the January exams kick me in the chest, the relentless workload in labs, coursework, reports, and summer exams followed and hammered the life force out of me. Then summer holidays came with GAMSAT and UKCAT preparation, and then UCAS applications, then third year.
And now it’s November.
So I basically worked my socks off this year, spent loads of money, and still I don’t know where I am. ALSO- this is the first time in 8 years I haven’t done anything to do with writing. Wow.
Maybe the sails are being adjusted. Wonder what 2019 will bring.
Narrative medicine is growing in popularity in academic medical centers and healthcare settings. Developed over the past decade by physician and literary scholar Rita Charon and colleagues at Columbia University, narrative medicine (as defined by Charon), “fortifies clinical practice with the narrative competence to recognize, absorb, metabolize, interpret, and be moved by the stories of illness.” There are textbooks on narrative medicine (such as the one by Charon shown here), workshops, undergraduate courses, and masters degree programs in narrative medicine (the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University), and even the venerable Modern Language Association is considering establishing a new forum related to narrative medicine (to be called Medical Humanities and Health Studies). I love narrative medicine and I teach narrative medicine, but I don’t love/teach it without having some serious questions and reservations about this whole ‘movement’ or religion as it sometimes seems to be.
Current narrative medicine…
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Third year of university started two months ago but I didn’t say anything about it given how postgraduate applications bogged me down completely and then lectures bombed me out the water. However, being in my final year is rather chill despite its hectic beginnings. Last year was a total nightmare: the coursework, the exams, the labs, the lab reports. I don’t think I even recovered from it. Hopefully, next summer will be more joyous.
I also received my exam timetable: Jan 15th, 22nd, 25th. Not bad. Ten complete days of madness. I can handle that. In fact, i’ll be doing a separate post very soon on what my revision tactics will be this year (and no, it will actually involve nothing to do with doing notes).
All that aside, let’s get to the real demon of third year: my dissertation.
I am currently conducting an in silico project using bash on ubuntu (some coding software) that allows me to analyse genomic files and overlap and intersect them.
I genuinely don’t know. I don’t know how it works. I’m just coding the most random shit right now. I also have a meeting with my supervisor on Monday to tell him how much work I’ve done so i’ll be spending this entire weekend ploughing through self-teaching Ubuntu and furiously reading through all biostar posts to do with BedTools.
I don’t even think you know what I’m talking about right now. Wahay! We’re both in this boat together.
BUT I DO KNOW that the end goal is to explore the location of CpG islands and figure out how this relates to their function and disease. Since I would like to venture in something to do with Oncology- whether or not I decide to pursue a research career or become a Medic- this research project is an excellent choice. And I think i’m off to a good start; I got my results back on the preliminary report I did for it and I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly with the way technology is going, bioinformatics in general is going to be such a useful field. So all of this experience will be worth it in the end.
If you want past papers from other universities, just google: “site:edu _____ exam” for whatever subject you want e.g. site:edu nutrition exam and you’ll get links like: Nutrition Exam MCQs
Honestly, if your universities don’t supply their own past papers, then utilise this method from the get go. You need as much practise as you can. However, if your university does put up past exams, stick to those. Exam technique is what gets you the marks, so knowing what your university exams ask of you can help better increase your chances of scoring higher grades.
Theory is important. I got away by simply revising for exams and never doing past papers pretty much all the way until I graduated highschool. However, one incident in A2 (Year 13) changed my mind totally about it.
‘Tis the night before the A level mock exams for Paper 1 of A Level Biology.
I hadn’t studied.
Well, I hadn’t studied as much as I should have. So I sat down and ploughed through an entire packet of past papers my teacher has kindly compiled into a booklet (Thank You Mrs Patel!). One question after the next, checking the mark scheme, annotating along with notes from the textbook. I finished up at midnight and then passed out across my bed within two seconds of my head hitting the pillow.
Results? I scored 96% in that exam. I was not only top in my class for the paper, I had topped the batch LOOOOOOOOOOL.
So yeah, that put things into perspective for me for sure when it came to past papers. I don’t think I’d ever doubt using them as a revision tool. They’re so useful. They teach you what the exam asks of you. There’s no point having pages and pages of notes with you if you don’t know how to apply them in an exam setting.
A lot of students don’t know when to begin attempting past exams. Honestly, there is no perfect answer for this dilemma.
Getting ahold of exams from other univerisites whilst your university provides their own- there’s no harm in that. If you’ve got the time, go ahead.
I think you can revise from your university past papers and use other online resources just to test yourself. Using online resources may also be another thing to include in your Summer Revision Programme
✧･ﾟ: *✧･ﾟ:* Shabnam*:･ﾟ✧*:･ﾟ✧
Sometimes, I imagine ticking off the following list:
And then I wake up from this dream of mine and realise the what my work ethic is actually like:
But, for the first time in my life, I’m going to change that around!
By organizing myself over the summer.
I’ve already begun by organising the past papers for the modules I signed up for next year which you can read about here, if you want to learn the way I do it.
Albeit, I will be bogged down with pre-medical school application prep, but all the same, there are little things I could do to get myself into gear.
I remember reading about a man on Quora who read all the recommended textbooks for each of his classes in college during the first week of term whilst all the other students went out partying. He just ploughed through, reading along, although it seemed like “latin” to him at the time (that’s how he described it, if I remember correctly).
It turns out, when classes began, he managed to pick up a lot quicker than the other students, performed better, and even had lengthy discussions with the professors during class about concepts the class had to grapple with. I’m guessing that because he exposed his mind to the material once, it became less intimidating to him. There’s some truth in confidence. There’s lots of comfort in familiarity.
I really wish I saved that answer somewhere. It was a good read. I’m not the type to press for spending fresher’s week reading textbooks, unless you like that sort of thing. But maybe try to suss out what’s going on the next year in school, college, university etc.
By working hard now, you’re doing your future self a favour.
If you have finals- good luck! If they’re over, like mine are, good luck for results day!
Okay now let’s get to the good stuff.
Past paper practise has hands down been the most effective revision tool I have ever used. In fact, I would go as far to say that doing past papers can give you 10 extra marks in the exam. There is no scientific evidence to this. It’s just what I tell myself. I also tell myself being confident for an exam can give you 5 extra marks. It just gives me a bit of a push, that mentality. But what the hell do I know. Ignore me.
Anyway, moving on.
This September I will be in my final year of university (Oh my god, did time really go that quickly?! Remember when I first started A level back in September 2014- it’s been 4 years!). I did quite a good job of blogging about second year, and keeping track of my studies. For that reason alone I think I was able to perform better this year. Of course, I had the occassional slip up, and could’ve done things a lot differently.
Baby steps, I suppose.
For third year, I’m going to cannonball into keeping myself in check academically. Especially since I will be applying to medical school this year.
God, where was I..
Right. Third Year. Exam structure: essays. Second Year had exam essays that accounted for 25% of the mark. Third year exams comprise of 2 essays which contribute to 100% of the module mark.
Here’s how I tackled them using past paper (from 2nd Year PPQ practise):
An example of this:
As you can see, I have colour coded similar parts of both questions, and then organised an overall essay plan that addresses everything at once. I have also included Further Reading, Diagram, and Tables– anything to flesh out an essay and score even higher marks.
Another top tip: E-mail your essays to your lecturers. You are paying them. This time around, I sent out e-mails and did essays for all my modules. Lecturers replied to every single one of them, with additional feedback and sometimes a predicted grade for each essay. They also told me what to include, what to avoid, what to develop upon. It was great and served me well in the exam.
Below, I’ve uploaded an Immunology Past Paper Essay Question from Second Year that actually came up in the exam. Feel free to see how I’ve organized it.
From doing extensive past paper practise, you can also look for the things they haven’t asked recently, or asked enough about. This can help predict what’s more likely to come up in the year you are to sit the exam.