If I told you that you had to run a 42.195km marathon tomorrow, what would you think?
(#didyouknow 42.195km (26 miles or 385 yards) is the official marathon distance!)
If you had been preparing for the last few months with training and nutrition, you might have a few nerves but feel confident that you could run the marathon. On the other hand, if you have been eating poorly, lacking sleep, done no exercise except for running for the bus every morning and spent every weekend getting smashed, the thought of running a marathon of that distance would spiral your mind into a spot of panic and sheer horror. Just the thought of it might make you want to take a rather large nap.
So what would make you think you could start preparing for mid-terms, trial or WACE exams, the night before or the week before?
Semester two is fast approaching and if you have not done well in the first semester, DO NOT FRET!! You still have plenty of time to pass this year with great grades. Work hard on all your assignments and tests, don’t hand anything in late, converse with your teachers, study productively and feed your body nutritious food with adequate sleep.
This article is full of information, links, tips, advice, routines and an interview from a first year medical student at UWA (University of Western Australia).
Please, don’t drop out
Dropping out of school is taking the easy way out and, in most cases, can be like shooting yourself in the foot. Year 12 is one year of your life and these days, there are many ways to complete Year 12 which will be discussed later. Stick it out because you will never know when you will need it to get into a course and going back is harder then just doing it in the first place. Finishing can also teach you valuable lessons about sticking with something when it gets rough and finding ways to get through it and make it easier.
Looking back at your first semester
Write down at least 10 things you did that hindered you success in the first semester. You may be thinking ‘I have to think of TEN??”. You will be surprised once you think about it and you could probably come up with 20 or even more. To be fair, here are my ten off the top of my head:
1. Watching Chemistry tutorials that eventually leads to watching cat vines…. then baby bears… then Russian bear encounters… then ‘most dangerous roads in the world’… then ‘car crashes caught on tape’ to ‘train crashes caught on tape’… that leads to watching a documentary that has popped up on my video suggestion sidebar while eating Vegemite toast. *SIX HOURS LATER*
2. Laying down for just ’10 minutes’ *EIGHT HOURS LATER*
3. Watching Scrubs or Seinfeld JUST while I eat and then I WILL! study after I finish eating *ONE SEASON LATER*
4. Leaving an assignment till the night before, knowing that you will be able to finish it and still get a reasonable amount of sleep. Then something suddenly comes up! A family or best friend emergency, an appointment you forgot, your car breaks down and you have to wait hours for RAC, you get a horrid headache, your cat gets sick and you have to rush to the vet. Something will always come up when you leave things to the last minute.
5. Suddenly having the urge to scrub your bathroom (or spring clean your room, or alphabetize your books or color-code your socks)
6. Stressing over school without taking action, leading to constant headaches that turned into mirgraines
7. Feeling so overwhelmed with everything that you sit there and stare at the screen not knowing where to start and not being able to think clearly.
8. Not eating properly and sleeping too much (Yes, that is a thing)
9. Being unbalanced between my school work and my writing, researching, exploring new places in Perth to write about and creating content.
10. Being very disorganized
The main theme there is everyone’s favorite word: PROCRASTINATION!!
Knowing where you need to improve is a very important step!
This has made a huge impact and released a lot of stress for me. Take control of your learning. Reevaluate your subjects and your goals. Do you need all those subjects to get into the University course you want? If not, is there a particular subject you could drop that might be holding you back so you could spend more time focusing on your other subjects?
If you are having issues and problems in your current school, see if you can move schools or do a particular subject in a different school (if that school offers that class and have a space open).
If your school offers this, move to online or night classes to allow more free time during the day for productive study.
#truestory Last year I had day classes: two 1hr classes on Mondays and four 1hr 45 min classes Tuesday’s and Thursday’s (which had a 3 hour gap between classes). Add in travel time, walking between classes, waiting for teachers to turn up, waiting for teachers to explain things several times to certain students and talking with friends before and after class, part time study just turned into a full time waste of time. This year, I have four (started with five) subjects. Three are online classes that are one hour a week and all the information and materials are online. The fourth class is with a different school and called iLearn: distance education. All information, assignments, dates for the whole year are set out online there for you to jump into. No travelling, wasting time waiting around and no long classes.
There are so many options available out there. Do what is best and what works for you!
Change your study surroundings
It is good to set up a main proper study area, but having a variety of study areas can help us to keep mentally alert. My study areas include:
My main area is in my tiny kitchen that has my PC with a large screen, good lighting, printer, scanner, photocopier and it’s perfectly situated next to a window.
My second area is in the study on a huge desk which has my MacBook, textbooks, reference books, study guides, any school library books and is where I do my make up in the morning.
Other areas are in the lounge with Seinfeld quietly on in the background and in my bed. These two are BIG no-no’s if you read any information on productive study. I believe that we need to do what works best for ourselves and I do different types of study in different areas.
I also study at the following libraries; Morley, State WA and Reid UWA. My favourite two places to study are the Medical and Dental Library of UWA at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and The Moon Cafe in Northbridge. I love studying outdoors like Hyde Park or Perth foreshore, but I find I get very distracted by the trees, animals and people watching, that I’m not very productive.
This has been one of the most best things I have learned, it helps me so much to stay focus and be super productive with my time.
Fifty minutes study, ten minute break x 3
Fifty minutes study, half hour break
(Takes practice so keep at it)
This works for all four of my subjects and has been proven to help keep you mentally prepared, alert and retain information. You can change it to suit you like 50/10 x 2 then 50/30 x 2 and then repeat. The key is to not be draining yourself and boring your brain.
In those ten minutes, do not go on social media but do keep your mind buzy. It’s suggested by Medical students that you do small chores in those ten minutes. Washing dishes, make the bed, vaccum and on every second one take a glass of water and go outside. At the end of your study session you will have a clean apartment/room and getting school work done. It’s a great feeling!!
Here is a great video to watch on productive study techniques by Professor Marty Lobdell. He talks about the importance of studying smarter and how our brain reacts after 25 minutes of study. He recommends twenty-five minutes of study, five minute break.
Use everything available
It’s 2015 and we have so much available to use to help us. So get out there and use it.
YouTube: So many Professors and Doctors have their own YouTube channel with tutorials, animations and whiteboard demonstrations to help you understand, especially if you are a visual learner like me!
Here are some of my favorite:
Mr. Paul Andersen uses a blackboard and animation for all science subjects. He explains things very clearly and easy to follow.
With almost nine million subscribers, Michael (Vsauce) is both educational and entertaining to watch.
Great video for Physics students
Great mathematical explanations
For medical students or anyone studying Human Biological Science in
Year 11 and 12
Nucleus Medical Media (This is my most favorite channel)
Biology/Medicine Animation HD
Learn Surgical skills with Dr. Prodigious
Dr. Mike does whiteboard lectures using great drawings
Libraries: They have a lot of helpful reference books and some libraries have text books. Also great if you need to print, scan, photocopy, laminate and even bind. Some libraries have rooms with whiteboards and cafes.
Special reference library online: My school offers a online reference book library that you can sign up for. It’s free and you can get access to heaps of different books.
Tutoring services: There are many companies that do tutoring, study groups, exam prep, holiday classes and individual help in problem areas.
#truestory Last year I attended a five day (2 hours a day) exam prep course, it was paid for by my school and offered to students who were having difficulty in a subject. Mine was mathematics, but after day two I didn’t go back. It wasn’t for me and it confused me even more. But I could see how students could really benefit from this if they were doing okay in the subject and needed a boost. Personally, I need one on one and have a great tutor who is doing an Engineering Major at UWA.
Study group: Not for everyone but getting a group of productive people together and quizzing each other is a really beneficial way to study, stay energized and have fun. As hard as it may be, if there is someone from your class that joins and are bringing the group down with an extremely unmotivated attitude and refuses to pull their weight, try to motivate and include them in the group. If it doesn’t work, kick them out. From experience, these people have a negative energy that is contagious to the group.
Ways and places to learn
Just like changing your study surroundings is beneficial for productive and efficient study, different ways of retaining information can also be highly productive. Here are some great ways to learn:
-Flashcards: great to keep in your bag and read when your waiting for the bus, on the bus or waiting in any line. Also great to do when you need to walk around after sitting in class or on your PC all day.
– Mnemonics: Who remembers the nine planets by saying ‘My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas’?? I was taught that in year six and never forgot it. My most productive way of learning is by creating sentences to remember.
Example: Fred Likes Girls That Are Pretty And Old is how I remember the hormones secreted by the Posterior and Anterior from the Hypothalamus.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Luteinising Hormone, Growth Hormone, Thyroid Hormone, Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Prolactin, Antidiurectic Hormone and Oxytocin.
#truestory Because I remembered that Fred likes girls who are pretty and old, I was able to fully answer a mid-term exam question worth a lot of marks. I didn’t spell Adrenocorticotropic correctly in the exam but how many marks can you lose for that??
Making them similar to the word can be very helpful. For example:
Respiratory System: Nosy (nose) Penguin (paranasal) Pairs (Pharynx) Love (larynx) To (Trachea) Lunge (lungs) Diaper (diaphragm) Branches (bronchi) Besides (bronchioles) Aioli (alveoli)
#tip: The more crazy it is the more you will remember it!
Posting information around the house
Type up dot-point notes and mnemonics and bluetac them to the mirror in your bathroom to read while you brush your teeth, in your kitchen above your sink to read while you are doing the dishes, keep a folder of notes in the loo and laminate or seal in a plastic slip and stickytape to the shower wall. Keep all these notes short, dot-point or mnemonics for fun easy reading.
To be honest, teachers aren’t always the most helpful people. I have been in approximately two different schools every year from Year 1-12 (excluding Year 5, 6 and 7) and I have had nearly every kind of teacher. Drunk teacher, teacher who spends entire class on phone, teacher who smokes out the window, teacher who doesn’t care, teacher who is very strict, teacher who gives us the test answers and tells us to memorize it, teacher who refuses to help you no matter how many times you ask, teacher who tells you that you’re not going to pass the entire year when you fail the first math test of the year, teacher who tells you that you’re too old to consider Medicine, teacher who throws chairs and books across the room. It sucks to have a crappy teacher, it can make a class so different. If you are having major issues with a teacher, talk to your parents or the school coordinator or even the school psychologist. You might be able to swap to another class with a different teacher in the same subject or if it really gets bad, consider swapping schools or change to an online class. Put these types of teachers in your ‘Life Experience’ folder because in the future that folder is going to be filled with bad managers, managers who bully, bitchy co-workers, backstabbing co-workers, two-faced friends and family drama. Sometimes you have to put on your grown-up panties and suck it up.
Organization and Self Displine
There are a ton of study organization videos on YouTube to watch, some have some great tips. The best to look for are University students, especially those in Medical or Law school.
Here are two amazing apps I use that I saw recommended from a YouTube video:
Clear Focus app counts down your study session and it will come up with break times. You can enter any study session and break time you like.
Self control is a great app for stopping yourself from checking all your social media. You can enter your study timetable and the URLs of websites you want to block during a set time. You can even set it to stop text messages and phone calls coming through.
You can also get one for your PC or Mac.
Stop thinking too much and worrying and just do it. Once you get into a rhythm, you will be unstoppable. Think of it this way: If your goal is to be a Doctor, think of this study as the next step to being a Doctor. Don’t think that you HAVE to do this to get into University and then you HAVE to do this to get into Medical School. Think of it this way; Three steps to get into Medical School:
-Step one: Year 12
– Step two: Undergrad
– Step three: Medical School
In your head, say that you are already studying Medicine, you are at step one.
Motivate yourself daily by watching motivation on YouTube, following motivation and inspiration people on Instagram and never give up. Keep going!
WACE Information and Tips
If you suffer from anxiety and panic or have other issues that may impact your exam result, you can arrange to take the Year 12 (Trial exam) and WACE exams privately. Contact your school coordinator ASAP.
Here are all the links to this years WACE exams:
– When you are allowed to pick up your pen, whether you are in Trials or WACE, take approximatly SIX MINUTES to re-read each question and highlight what you need to do for that question and any keys words in one colour (e.g. ‘explain how’ or ‘what conventions are used’) and with another color, mark over the number of the question for the questions that you know the answer too. Then once you have completed all the questions you know the answers too, tackle the hard questions.
– ALWAYS use a RULER and PENCIL when drawing a table or graph. REMEMBER to label your axes on the graph, use the whole graph up and give your graph a name.
– Wear comfortable clothing and if your exam takes place in a huge hall or gym, wear socks. No socks with crocs or thongs allowed!!
What to take into an exam!
A light jacket, a water bottle with the label ripped off and a baggie with your stationary. Highlighters, small rulers, correction fluid, eraser, pencil, sharper, several black, blue and red pens and very small sticky notes. I also put my gem stones in there. Not for luck but I like to to hold them in my hand during exam and move them between my fingers when I’m thinking. Don’t drop them if you do bring them into exams!
It’s so important to get adequate sleep, eat healthy and hydrate with water. Full of nutrition advice, how to add more water into your life and a list of the best motivation, read my short article called ‘Mid-term Exam Advice 2015’ here: http://myrapeggyrose.com/2015/05/26/mid-term-exam-advice-2015/
Interview with Kelly, a First Year Medical Student at the University of Western Australia.
Name: Kelly Langford
Major – Anatomy & Human Biology
Minor – Economics
Give it everything you’ve got. Prepare yourself so that you can sit the exam feeling confident in your ability to do well. Write a list of all the things you need to do and plan your time so that you can do it. Be confident in yourself! Take breaks. Make time to do the things that make you happy! If you have any questions feel free to contact me – email@example.com
Please feel free to contact Kelly or myself if you need help or advice or have any questions.
You can Tweet me @myrapeggyrose
Or fill out the contact form on my website here: http://myrapeggyrose.com/about/
Your long term memory is your best friend, start training now!!
Thank you for reading and all the best on your exams!!
In my next article: Perth’s Secret Garden Wonderland Part II – This beautiful hidden gem is a public place for all to enjoy, but what does the City of Stirling have planned for this wonderland and why is everyone trying to keep it a secret?
A short video of Perth’s Secret Garden Wonderland
In my last article: Perth’s Secret Garden Wonderland – Discover an amazing garden straight out of a Tim Burton movie.