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):
- Going through the last 5 years worth of past papers. For Nutrition: Part One, this proffered 16 essay questions in total. 5 years worth of past papers if often enough to get through without the syllabus diverging too much. Unless it’s subjects like Maths, Physics, or Chemistry. Then I would say hit every past paper your university provides and then scavenge for more on the internet.
- Split the essay questions according to groups: Appetite, Immunonutrition, and Dietary Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease came up the most (3 each; total: 9/16).
- Create an essay plan per topic, not per essay. Your essay plan should span across all the questions pertaining to that topic. This is incredibly useful for revision: you get majority of content covered for those lectures at once, and essay questions tend to repeat themselves- thereby ultimately saving you a lot of time. (In fact, for Immunology this year, I managed to cover all the Vaccination lectures with this method- and the notes only came up to a 6/7 sides ~ 3 pages or so).
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.
Seriously when you’re prepared, it’s such a nice feeling to walk out of an exam knowing you passed.
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.