The musings of a final year medical student

Sunday, 8 June 2014


Despite being accustomed to the relentless examinations imposed on me by the British educational system, I am yet to perfect my revision technique.

In terms of what to revise, I'm set; I know where to get past papers, important parts of the specification to work on etc etc, but in terms of the structure of my days, I'm lost. My attention span is awful. I always plan my revision days but I never seem to stick to it. I often set myself too much, underestimating how long each task will actually take and how tired I'm going to feel as the day progresses. I also tell myself I will get up at 6am, run and start work at 7am. This fails 80% of the time.

It's only just occurred to me that I'm an extrovert, and I have no idea why it's taken me this long to figure out. I already knew my 'learning style' was to revise in groups, so you would have thought I could have extrapolated from that that indeed I gain energy from the presence of others. As a result of my extrovert nature, spending whole days dedicated to revision is even more unbearable.

Often it's tempting to dodge all social gatherings during exam season, but really I've found that that really hasn't helped me. In fact, but having other tasks or meet ups at specific times has made me far more productive. I still often say no to pub meet ups because it's getting to the point where my body clock is adjusting to so many late nights because I go there too often. So now I've accepted that I'm just not the kind of person who can revise from 8am to 8pm (I have several friends who can, the weirdos). Initially this terrified me, as I felt that getting into UCL is so important to me I couldn't waste precious revision time. But really, like many things, it's quality rather than quantity. It's also about consistency. Making sure that something is accomplished every day, rather than doing all nighters and then cancelling the day after to recompense sleep debt.

Now, I try to revise early in the mornings, take an hour off at lunch to do fun things. I usually finish early evening, around 5-6pm. Before bed I briefly go over definitions if I feel like it. I usually take a small break in the afternoon to meet up with mates, if I can.

I've just had to accept that I'm not a machine. I'm sure many medical students are, explaining their stellar marks. But that is never going to be me.

Then there's food. I've been told by many teachers that you need to eat sugary foods as you revise; the brain works on glucose. However my healthy eating has gone completely out the window. I need to gt a stash of fruit and snack on that instead.
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