The musings of a final year medical student

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


It has taken me the first two years of medical school to finally figure out how I revise! When you study a course that has no strict syllabus, it can be so daunting to revise. I always feel like there is no end point, but now I feel like I have a system that works okay. I am currently writing up notes for psychiatry, so thought I would share with you how I do it.

What do you need to know?
The university usually gives a list of 'learning outcomes' or 'key topics' that should be covered. As well as this, any diseases or information given in any of the university handouts and pre-reading could come up in the exam. Finally, this information has to be combined with all of the content taught in previous years. So, I read through it all, and make a bullet point list of the key information. 

Sometimes, it is more important to know a little about a lot of things, rather than great detail in only a few diseases. I try to pick out what is important about that topic, and make it as condensed as possible, and easy to read. As well as this, sometimes in medical school the most important bit to know is the difference between diseases. Often that can be the basis for an exam question. In this case, make up tables of diseases with similar presentations and state  how they are different. 

Make your own questions
I use the free app ANKI to make decks of online flashcards. You can rate the difficulty of the questions so that you can focus more on the challenging ones. Ideally, you should always revise in the format you are going to be assessed in. 

Find past papers or mock questions
If you can't find any past papers, look in your preferred textbooks and do all the questions that they have in there. You can also find other quizzes online related to your subject. For example, I always forget the circle of Willis and end up doing this quiz each year. 

Ask friends what they're doing
Always ask other people in your year or above what they use(d) for the topic you're revising. If they are in a year above you, ask about what common questions come up. 

Work little and often
Going over 5 questions a day is way better than doing 50 in one day. Doing little bits on a regular basis helps keep you progressing and will make revising during exam time a lot less daunting. 

Save helpful information on Dropbox
If you find something really useful but don't want to waste printing it off, get a Dropbox account  and store it on there. This is so helpful for writing up lectures and saving powerpoint presentations.

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1 comment

  1. I'm glad you've got it figured out! I used to have an A4 notebook for each module and I would write out all the of the learning objectives, leaving space to fill in notes. Through the course I'd make notes from tutorials/textbooks etc. and tried to make it colourful and neatly laid out! When it came to revision time, I tried to focus on past papers/ practice questions. Our exams were all multiple choice, so I found SBAs/MCQs from e-books in the BMA online library. For finals I paid for passmedicine and pastest which really helped. Then as I learned things from testing myself on the questions, I'd maybe go back to my original notebooks and add in extra little points just to help consolidate everything :)


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