After all the palpitations, the huge project of Thesis, which is required as a partial fulfillment of Masters program was accomplished. What I thought was, after getting through this hill, there would be only snow. Instead I found a huge range of Himalayas, that was blocking my way to the next destination. The other-side was a “life” but on the way, I realized the huge Avalanches, great pits where if you slip could fall and get trapped.
I had read it somewhere, that medicine exams are the toughest of all, and I faced it and found out, it was exactly true. Not even the brilliant most student would find it easy, no one can guarantee on passing , because knowing everything is not in human capacity and we had to admit “Luck” always demanded a 45% quota, in deciding our fate.
How the Days of preparation started-
Start was shaky but fine around 3-4 months back. At the back of the mind, we were full of confidence, as there was time backing us. I studied on my own schedule but one day soon , I realized the pace wouldn’t be enough. I planned a schedule. 30 + major chapters to cover, each of around 100 pages on average of compact evidence-loaded English writer book, few smaller books equally important and the community part. I planned 3 days for a chapter and still it would take 3 months and more. So I individually divided the time for chapters according to the gravity of importance.
Days went by, things wouldn’t go as planned. I would lag on a day or 2 , which always put an extra pressure. Even 3 hours of movie would compromise my schedule, wonder how tight it was?
Time came closer?
A month to go and Dilemma loomed over my study table, one side was a list of past questions which would cover the most important topics and on the other side the text books. So I decided to take pressure off me, not to care about the results and exam, and study in the way that would satisfy my mind. I took the book and completed remaining chapters over next few days. and planned a quick revision….
Revision? Text look fresh enough…
Confidently, I turned the book again hoping too much, but it seemed to break down, as I was finding it hard to recall most chapter. There was no point in getting anxious now, whatever may the consequence be, I tried picking up speed. With in 2 weeks, I could make a second go through on entire chapters.. the speed was not what I was born with but with no other options, I just did it…
One week to go..
The most critical time, I started with the Chapters which I was confident on and went on to chapters that were less of my skill. I kept the chapters that need mugging at last days before exam. My dose of caffeine escalated, dinners were missed…
At one stage, I felt I would lose it all as well as my mind. I took short naps 10-15 minutes, an 1-2 hour sleep in day and 6 hours sleep at night. Still it was hard to find myself fresh, as something was lacking …. the exercise and the healthy diet.. and of course a good sleep.
The Practicals exerted such fear- long case, short case and what not! But we had practiced it earlier that gave us some confidence..
A day before exam-
Woke up with a heavy head in the morning, and heart as heavy, the judgement day? was coming?.. By evening, I put my self to relax, anxiety would only break us off. I took fresh air over the terrace and slept earlier, as hangover would put us blank at the examination hall..
What I did Right?
1. 3 months of preparation was least you need, luckily.
2. Not losing confidence when I almost lost it.
3. Making short hands and highlighting the text, that would speed up revision and memory.
4. Preparing for practicals when I had time, rather than putting it to end.
5. Short naps would rejuvenate the brain and eyes, that helped me a lot to continue studies.
6. Discussing with friends- and sometimes , it was anything than all you could recall.
7. Scheduling the study, else one would lose into the time.
8. Backing up study with past questions and focusing on such topics.
9. Consulting seniors- proved the crucial most part.
10. Not keeping myself sleep-deprived at the preparation period- it would only make you lose..
What I did wrong?
1. Not highlighting topics before when I studied during my postings.
2. Not caring about the questions in the past.
3. Not discussing topics which friends at bedside during postings.
4. Not doing a thorough systematic physical examinations while examining patient.
5. Worrying too much about the exam.
6. No walk, exercise, too much coffee and oily foods.
7. Reading in a darkly lit room, which I later rearranged.
8. Neglecting the recent advances in medicine.
9. Thinking lot about the social and professional implication of failure.
When is the best time to Learn?
It’s when we are far from fear of exams. At Bedside, on normal days, if we take the history and examine in systematic way and discuss the differentials and topics with friends, no mugging up would beat this skill. Leave 45% to luck, be fair and it should do a favor on you.
Medical Student ( Anonymous )