Dear exams, I will give you everything I have

Suyee Chan (002)The most common pieces of advice I’ve been given deal with stress, time management and maximising concentration, but there’s not much about optimising the way we study. As a visual learner with two years of trial and error, below are some study methods I used for MPharm exams, as well as what I plan to achieve this year.

In year 1, I was organised but studying became a bit of a chore.

Notes: Handwriting all of my notes and organising into folders.

Studying: Mostly using books, Khan Academy and youtube videos. For revision, I made posters and did past paper questions.

Tools: I organised my life, work and studies using list pads and a bullet journal.

In year 2, I explored new study methods.

Notes: I typed up my lecture notes initially, then created mind maps containing relevant content by hand. I also listened to some lectures that I recorded (ones that overwhelmed me), relevant podcasts and revision notes. For chemistry mechanisms and anatomical diagrams, I found that drawing on a whiteboard reinforced my learning.

Studying: During revision period, getting together with friends was a good strategy to learn more in a short amount of time, not only because a group can focus on multiple topics, but for the support and motivation as well. We also wrote, exchanged, answered and marked each other’s’ exam-style questions; this challenged me to refine my understanding of each topic and more importantly, step into the examiner’s shoes.

Tools: Here are some free apps I personally recommend:

1) Microsoft OneNote – for organising notes
2) Forest https://www.forestapp.cc/en/ – for time management
3) Paper by FiftyThree https://www.fiftythree.com/ – for visual notes
4) Memrise https://www.memrise.com/ – for creating flash cards
5) Coffitivity https://www.coffitivity.com/#home – for concentration

In year 3, I am motivated to do better by using methods that suit me. One revision tip we see everywhere is to set specific and realistic goals, so this year I have planned to:

● Create notes with relevant links for future reference – find out about anything that causes confusion there and then, either by looking it up or asking somebody.
● Explain complex content in my own words so they make sense in the future.
● Recite important points.
● Make revision posters and do past paper questions.
● When term ends, start a journal with timetables (and follow them!).

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