How to survive medical school finals

For some of you, your medical finals are just round the corner. As one of your last hurdles before being a doctor, it is easy to feel the pressure of these exams. Even though the format varies among universities, the standard is the same nationally so I have some tips and advice which should apply to any of you.

Plan ahead

Make a timetable of what you aim to get done before the exams. Planning ahead means that you can make sure you cover everything you need to beforehand and the chances of not covering a topic are slim.

Resources

Some people use a lot of textbooks but I hate them! Most of them are outdated and personally, I do not trust the information I find in them. So here’s a list of resources I found really useful:

  • PatientUK – This is one of my favourite sites to use for going over pathology. Each section is split up in order to make it easy for you to navigate.
  • BMJ Best Practice – Another great site but it is expensive to get a full subscription. BUT they have a 7-day free trial so try it out and see how you feel about this site.
  • Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine – The bible of a medical student. However, I would not recommend using it for management because their information may be out of date.
  • NICE Guidelines – I tend to use just this site for management as I know for a fact that the information is reliable! As you can imagine, each guideline is LONG so it is time consuming going through it to pick out exactly what you need to know.

Practice Practice Practice

Make sure you practice using questions. There are plenty of question banks available. Here are some examples:

  • Passmedicine – £25 for 6 months. This is the site most final year students use. Some of the questions are also from the national bank so you may even see them in the exam!
  • Pastest – £33 for 6 months
  • Ask Dr Clarke – This is a course run in association with the BMA. Dr Clarke runs sessions for Medicine, Surgery, O&G and Paediatrics. They are £54 each if you are a BMA member. Personally, I cannot justify spending this much on a course. The textbooks you receive are meant to be great but I didn’t go to the course and I did pretty well in my medical sciences paper.

Revision technique

After 4/5 years of medical school, I am sure you guys have your own ways of revising. Stick to it! I am a visual learner so my fourth year was filled with making colourful posters which really helped me memorise facts that I needed to know. Practice OSCE skills with your friends and family. Not to mention the fact that you need to make the most of your time being on the wards. Befriend nurses and FY1s and they will really help you find what you are looking for to bump up your communication and practical skills.

TAKE BREAKS

I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take time to relax. I used to take breaks in between each study session to do a bit of dancing. It is so easy to burn out at medical school and the pressure of finals is not going to help that. So make sure you dedicate some time for yourself.

Not going to sugar coat this post by saying that final year is easy because it isn’t! But hundreds of medical students go through it every year and so can you. The fact that you have got to the end of your medical school career is in itself a testimony to your capabilities to tackle exams. Support each other and you can definitely get through this!

And don’t forget, your exams only count towards 50% of you final points. So even if you do not do as well as you had hoped, there is still a chance to get higher points by doing well in the SJT.

Good luck and let me know how you all get on! Also feel free to get in touch with me if you would like any help

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