Hello and welcome,
This goes without saying: remain calm. Take some nice deep breaths and relax. Set up a plan for yourself for the next two weeks. Look at the topics you need to review and dedicate yourself to a checklist and focus on a few things from your checklist per day. Learn them and study them well. Do practice questions around them if available. Try to work at a constant pace and try not to let the workload pile up closer to your exam.
Most importantly: take care of yourself. It might be tempting to pace yourself to the point where you lose the time to sleep, eat or relax but you need all of those things still. Take regular breaks, let your brain unwind. At the end of the day when your mind is exhausted and you feel you cannot retain more information, do not push yourself. Everything beyond that point you are not going to remember anyways so just take the rest of the night off.
The night before your exam, keep the studying lighter and get more sleep. Eat well the next morning. A higher protein meal (but not extreme) in the morning about two to three hours before your exam will help keep you feeling satiated and your mind clear. Keep a bottle with you and a light snack for the exam. And again remember: deep breaths; everything will be all right.
Hi! My name’s Ridha and I am a 19 year old student living in Australia. I am keen to enter med school here in Sydney, but unfortunately my current abilities in the UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine Admissions Test) are affecting my chances of getting in. I sat the 3 hour exam last year and did very poorly, and despite doing more intensive prep this time round, I still feel inadequate, and that my marks are not improving sufficiently enough. What could I be doing wrong?
You are probably not familiar with this specific test, but I was wondering what your thoughts on these Medicine entrance tests are, and if you could kindly share some advice on how to generally approach this exam, which is on the 31st of July this year. (Just to give you some background,I am generally above average in academics, this may be completely irrelevant tho).I really enjoy reading your blog, and you make me more and more determined to try to turn every stone to be where you are at now.
Thanks for your message. You can check out some of my replies regarding taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) by searching the tag mcat on my blog. You can also find some more long-winded answers regarding the MCAT in the index here.
Having said that, I cannot claim to know how the test is compared to the MCAT nor do I know what you have tried in terms of studying. I think that it is alright not to feel ready. If you were overconfident that would be worse. Focus on taking a lot of practice exams. Get a feel of the questions, the style, and the pacing you need to work on. If you have the time, set up a mock exam and sit there, as you would for three hours and write a practice exam.
Part of the stress of writing these kinds of exams is being put into a very artificial environment, writing exams that are designed in such a way to be objective and may not be the easiest or best way to gauge your aptitude. It can be very stressful and cloud your thinking. The more comfortable you can make yourself before that test day, the better you can be as you focus on the task and not the situation.
At the end of the day, the exam is secondary. It is a proxy measurement that, in the real world context does not reflect who you are or what you are capable of. When you become a doctor or any professional, it is not how well you can decide between four choices but how you react to problems. So do not get bogged down by the test and let it ruin your day. Granted you still need to perform well enough to be competitive, but think of it as a hurdle to overcome and not as the end-all-be-all.
If you would like more clarifications or ask more questions, leave me a comment in the inbox. Good luck on your studies and take care.
Tom of the Medical State of Mind
If you read the answer before yours, those advices came after a few years of undergrad. At the start, I was not very well balanced in this department and I struggled to make the most of my time and find ways of studying that worked well for me.
Doing well in university was never that simple in university. I worked very hard to get the grades I got and to get where I am. It is always a struggle to get the most out of my studying. We are only human.
You can read the tips in the previous post for what I do or just search “study habit.”
Everyone has different studying tips. I have written a bit about this and you could search for it here under “study habit.”
My general advice is to take breaks when things are not sinking in, refocus, then restart. This goes for regular studying or when you’re cramming. Your brain does not have unlimited stamina; it needs rest.
The other advice is to use multiple approaches, and not just repetition. Your brain generally learns best when the message is reinforced through different modalities. Try some flow charts, make tables, or flash cards. If something is not working, discard it for a better method.
Next, set some goals for yourself. Decide what you need to focus on, what you can accomplish, and do as much as you can. It is alright to sometimes bite off more than you can chew, but always know your limits and keep pushing forward. Even if you only review a bit every day, in the long run you will have read through the material quite a bit.
Lastly, review often. The freshest material is always that which is covered most recently. Go back often to freshen up older material. The subsequent passes you will get a feel for what you have forgotten, what you have remembered, and focus yourself appropriately where you are struggling.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Good luck and take care.