Study Q&A: Part 2

What is your universities social life life? Is it good or bad?

It is as good as you make it, like at any other university. Imperial is often given the reputation of having a terrible social life, but I don’t think it’s true! Of course, there will be people that never go out and study all the time, but there are equally many people (if not more) that go out multiple times a week. There are hundreds of societies to join and countless clubs/bars around London, so you shouldn’t worry about the social life.

How do you make your notes so tidy?

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t plan out my notes beforehand or use a pencil to trace out where things will be – I think I’m just a fairly neat person in general! I’ve noticed is that I prefer writing on plain paper, rather than lined/squared paper, because it looks much neater and find that the lines are extremely distracting! I also always try to use the same pen for consistency e.g. all my titles are written with a black fountain pen and the rest of the notes are written in a black ballpoint pen.

Do you have any tips for making your handwriting look like a font and really neat?

For anyone looking to improve their handwriting, I would highly recommend finding someone’s handwriting that you really like and trying to copy it. Write out the whole alphabet a few times and then practice incorporating the style into your everyday handwriting! Over time, you will see improvements!

What are your career options?

With a degree in Medicine, most people naturally go on to be a doctor and/or surgeon. However, there are many other career options and you don’t need to feel that being a doctor is the only option. There are many people that choose to go into a career in academia/research, management, leadership, teaching or even business. I’ve even met someone who completed a degree in Medicine and went on to be a lawyer after doing a one-year conversion course! The options are endless, which is very exciting!

Do I need to get a good grade in maths in high school to get into medical school?

No! Although most people applying to medical school will pick Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics as their A Level or IB Higher Level subjects, you don’t need to do Mathematics to get into medical school in the UK! I’m not sure if the same is true for other countries, but most universities in the UK require Chemistry, Biology and at least one other science or mathematics!

Which university do you go to and what do you study?

I answered this in my last Q&A, which you can find here!

How can I fully concentrate when I’m easily distracted?

The most important thing is to be in an environment that has minimal distractions. For me, this is usually my bedroom with noise cancelling headphones on (I have these ones) and I use the app FocusTimer (paid) on my phone to track my study time. I make sure to close all distracting pages on my laptop or use an app to block their use. I also really like studying in the library because there are always many other people working, which motivates me. Other than that, I would recommend using a Pomodoro timer so that you only need to focus for 25 minutes at a time – this method doesn’t personally work for me, but I know it works for many others.

Could I join any university course for physics post-graduation?

Yes, I think so! Of course, it depends on what your undergraduate degree you have and which country you want to study in. I’m not doing a degree in physics, so it’s not something I know much about. I would recommend reading about the course and the entry requirements on each individual university website. If there’s something you need help with, there are usually people you can contact in the department of each university (this will also be listed on the website)

How to deal with bad grades in school/university?

When you get a bad grade at school or university, the most important thing is to allow yourself to feel upset/disappointed, but also to learn from the experience so that you can perform better next time. By identifying your weaknesses, you can focus your studying on those gaps and improve over time. If you don’t understand why you got a bad grade, be sure to ask your teacher/tutor/lecturer to help you identify where you lost marks.

What is best to use for studying flashcards? Coloured or plain cards?

Any type of flashcard is effective for memorising if you use them consistently. I prefer to use a digital flashcards such as Quizlet, ANKI or Brainscape because they incorporate spaced repetition. This means that you typically see a card when you are just about to forget the information on it, which is particularly effective because you need to put effort in to recall the answer to the question. If you chose to write your flashcards by hand, make sure not to add too much information because making them will be very time consuming and you want to be spending most of your time reviewing them!

Any advice for international students applying to UK universities?

The biggest difference for international students studying at UK universities is the cost of the degree, so it’s really important to budget for student life and to be strategic with which universities you apply to. Of course, this can be difficult if you have never visited the university or maybe even the country! I would recommend trying to attend an international university event if they are offered in your area and researching how many other international students there are at a given university.

Do you prefer handwriting your notes or typing them?

If I had more time, I would prefer to handwrite my notes. However, in medical school it’s inefficient to spend so much time making notes and it’s much better to focus on more active methods of revision. In the exam, you need to have the content memorised! You’re much more likely to remember information that you have tested yourself on. I usually type my notes up from lecture notes and textbooks so that I have a place to reference the information, but I usually study mainly using flashcards and practice questions!

Do you have any advice for people starting medical school this September?

This is tough, especially because the start of university is likely to be different this year due to the COVID pandemic and a lot of lectures/teaching will be remote, rather than in person. In general, my advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself in first term and to focus on figuring out how you study, which extracurriculars you want to do and who your friends are!

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