Study Q&A: Part 1

I asked you over on Instagram for some questions related to studying, which I’ll be answering in this post. I received so many questions that I’ve had to split this up into two and also group similar questions into one!

What are some tips regarding studying medicine especially time management?

Time management can be difficult especially when you are not used to the pace of medical school and the massive amounts of information being thrown at you. What I’ve found most useful is to take some time each week to form a plan for the following week. I make sure that all my events are in my calendar and that I have a comprehensive to do list written that I can work on throughout the week.

How do you manage your time during school days?

Good time management includes a place to store your events, tasks and ideas. For events, I use the calendar on my laptop/phone (Apple Calendar) and I have my university schedule synced so that it updates in real time. For my tasks, I generally use the Apple Notes app or Things 3. For ideas/notes, I like to use Notion. I also have a bullet journal, although I use this more for journalling and things like habit tracking, rather than for time management because I prefer to carry minimal amounts of things with me.

Where are your currently studying and what are the criteria for foreign students to apply/join?

I’m doing a degree in Medicine in the UK! Honestly, I’m not sure what the criteria are for foreign/international students to apply to my university, but there is a lot of information on the website of each university in the UK.

How has IB helped you in university?

A lot. I didn’t realise how much IB helped me until I spoke to my friends who did A Levels! The IB diploma teaches you a different way of thinking, which is really useful when approaching problems and thinking about how to solve them. It also forces you to do a wider variety of subjects and it is much easier to approach university assignments that involve essay writing or a philosophical approach as during IB you get a lot of practice in such things.

Do you have any tips for specific IB subjects?

I can only speak about the subjects I took because each is so different, but generally I would always recommend to focus on the specification and doing lots of past papers and questions. I’ve written a whole blog post with my tips for IB Biology HL and IB Chemistry HL!

How do you memorise so much content? Any tips?

For me, the most important thing for memorisation is active recall and spaced repetition! Personally, I like to do active recall by writing questions for myself and testing myself, either through flashcards or past-paper style. With regards to spaced repetition, I try to go over each topic at least 3 times to make sure I know the topic well!

How do you study with books and online PDFs?

Truthfully, I don’t use textbooks and online PDFs much – unless I am studying for a specific exam that has a designated textbook, I prefer to look things up quickly online or refer to my lecture/tutorial material. When I do study from textbooks, my main method is to summarise the main points as much as possible e.g. on post-it notes (1 per page).

How do you motivate yourself on days when you are tired or there is just too much work?

I don’t rely on being motivated to study because when I am feeling tired or overwhelmed I know I wouldn’t do anything. However, I have created routines for myself so that I know which times I should be studying and when I should be taking breaks. Determination and diligence is much more important than motivation!

What would be your advice for incoming freshmen?

Ask for help if you need it, whether it is about your academics, mental health or any other issues/worries! You may feel that you are the only one struggling with a given topic or the only person having feelings of doubt about the course you picked, but talking to your friends, classmates, professors or tutors can help immensely!

Anything you wished you’d known before you started that no one told you?

I wish someone had told me (or reminded me) that although medical school is a lot of work, it’s also a lot of fun and you never get your university years back! It’s so important to form strong friendships and to have fun too! Personally, I don’t want to look back at my medical school years and remember that I studied all the time, especially because the life of a doctor can be stressful and very busy!

Is medical school really stressful?

It really depends on the person and your individual circumstances. I found first year extremely stressful, but second year (which is considered much harder) less stressful, mainly because I was living much closer and spent less time commuting so I had more time to exercise, sleep and eat well. If you develop good habits and give yourself time to relax a little every day, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Of course, exam season is likely to be very stressful, but that would be the same for any subject.

How do you study molecular biology?

My favourite way to study molecular biology was through watching videos and drawing diagrams. Biology is generally a very visual subject and it is extremely helpful to find a good diagram that explains the process in a way that you understand. However, it’s also really important to remember that molecular biology is about remembering vocabulary first!

What’s it like living in London?

Living in London is amazing, especially as a student because many events are subsidised or free, there’s always something going on and there are endless opportunities! Having said that, London is not as big as you think – as a student, you tend to hang out near your university and visit the same bars and clubs. I spend most of my time travelling between 3-4 tube stations which are not far apart and bump into the same people while walking to the shops!

Part 2 of this Study Q&A will be up on Tuesday next week!

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