Welcome to the second instalment of things you should know before embarking on your journey through Biomed. This article delves into 4 points that I hope will leave you with a solid game plan you can build on as the year goes on. Let’s get started!
- Play it smart
The first thing to do for each of your courses is to check how you’re going to be assessed. Is everything multi-choice or is the exam short-answers? Do you get a cheat sheet? If so, is it worth learning the 30 different locations of epithelial tissue or the 50 (ok maybe not quite that much) different enzymes in cellular respiration? How much is everything weighted? If an assignment is weighted 2%, is it worth spending 3 hours on it when you could be making better use of your time? How much time should you be allocating to a core course vs a non-core course? These are all questions you need to answer ideally as early as possible so that you can make the best use of your time.
- Become comfortable with not grasping everything (or anything) the first time through
In contrast to high school where you might only have to go through the content once or twice to understand it or commit it to memory, Biomed is a different beast. Honestly, it felt like we covered a whole school term’s worth of work in the very first lecture – which left me more overwhelmed than the time I had to decide between crunchy and smooth peanut butter. But I’m here to assure you that it is 100% manageable as long as you realise that it’s perfectly ok not to understand/remember everything the first time you come across it. That’s where spaced repetition comes in; make it your best friend because it really does work. So the next time a concept isn’t clicking, try to resist the temptation of hurling your laptop at the wall and remember to be a little kinder to yourself (your brain, your laptop and the wall will thank you for it).
- Utilise the magic of Piazza
Let me introduce you to quite possibly the best thing ever invented, something so important that it earned itself a permanent tab on my laptop for the duration of the entire year, and something I might have genuinely failed without. The one and only Piazza: a platform where you can anonymously ask as many questions as you like and have them answered by lecturers, fellow students or tutors. From one student to another, I highly encourage you to make the most of this truly sensational resource (and at the very least you can always read through other people’s questions). Special mention to Medsci 142 which had the most amazing Piazza page I’ve seen so far. Trust me, give it a chance and it won’t be long before you wonder how on earth you survived without it.
- Create a reward system
Biomed students are especially (and constantly) prone to burnout. While it might not be possible to do all the things you usually would to prevent this, like taking weekends off or regularly socialising, I’ve found that creating a reward system is a great alternative (although I’ll admit, not foolproof). For me, this looked like setting aside time to watch some Netflix on Friday and Saturday nights. On days when I felt like nothing was moving forward, the promise of an entertaining reward would motivate me into a productive state of mind. However, take care not to become too invested in your show…you have been warned. Other ideas could be to set aside a small amount of time for a hobby, playing with your pet or reading a book. Whatever it is, ensure it doesn’t require a lot of effort and schedule it in each week so that you know to work around it – if you leave it for when you’ve ‘finished everything’ I can promise that you’ll never find time for it.
Hopefully this helps you, and don’t forget to look out for the final article in this series!