Friday, July 9, 2010

So, what did I learn...

Results for Semester 1 exams came out today, amid much anticipation, following the non-graded Y (which stands for 'Yes') grade I received previously, which meant that I would be continuing to next semester. This anticipation quickly turned into a more sombre emotion as I scrolled through my results and found that I failed half my exams - two out of four; one by less than half a percent, but a fail nonetheless. In UWS, you can only fail three exams in the entire year, even if your average score is over 50%, which I admit sounds fairly reasonable. But right now I think I'll need all of this leeway to get myself through this year and start clinicals.
I came into Year 2, Semester 1 with optimism; although previous years warned that this semester was difficult, I was, or so I thought, prepared for this difficulty; I saw it as simply a slightly larger obstacle to overcome. So naturally, I am sure I spent more time studying this semester than last year, and so expected a slightly better result than what faced me today. Thinking about this in a more rational manner, it is obvious that I must have underestimated the difficulty of the exams, overestimated my effort, and should have done a few things differently.

First, I can hardly blame the school for marking too hard, as the cohort statistics were published and, although, as an entire cohort, we slipped (a fair bit), my personal results slipped significantly further. This indicates that my result was personal and so must have reflected personal achievement.
Second, I didn't attend as many lectures as I did last year, and also paid less attention in labs and in PBLs. Anecdotes are given of hero students who cram in two weeks before exams and pull off Credits, but I'm of the opinion that these hero students could have been right at the top of their grade, had they bothered to put in the effort. And for a more average student like myself, not attending all the lectures really does make a difference. Something to correct for this semester. As an observation, overall attendance rates for lectures seemed to dip quite a bit this semester as well.
Third, I must find a more efficient way to study. I doubt this will come easily, but I think going back to handwriting may prove more effective, to reduce any distractions and to help retain memory.
Fourth, exam technique still applies in Medicine. I chalked my relative success in anatomy last year to online quizzes with photographic images and familiarisation with cavaders; yet for some reason, this semester I went back to learning straight off anatomy textbooks, which covers basics but isn't a good way to prepare for exams such as anatomy spot-tests; rapid-fire tests that you only succeed in when you are an expert in real-life anatomy. This probably traces back to studying earlier and more consistently, since I found myself still learning a couple of days before exams, which caused loss of quick recall of the anatomy learnt months ago, as well as inability to quickly recall the newly-crammed material due to a sense of overwhelming doom accompanying the names of hundreds of different structures.

This year, I'm still aiming for an overall Credit; which means I will most probably need to hit a Distinction average next semester. This nearly happened last year, but on reflection, I think I can do better without trying to suddenly become a hermit. Second semester starts in three days, and I'm actually quite excited to get back into it. Nothing beats crappy results better than a dose of optimism, a sprinkle of hindsight, a tablespoon of objectivity and a generous helping of get-back-into-it.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.