Exams; we've been doing them for quite a while now. So you think we'd be used to them, prepared for them, ready to face the seemingly never ending assessment process of a pharmacy student's life. And yet, the majority of us will spend the next few months with rocketing levels of stress, sleep deprivation and the dreaded eye bag "I don't know what sleep is anymore" look. Keep reminding yourself that it is all worth it in the end!
Hopefully this short article will help you to prepare and tackle the next two months head on, motivated and ready to pass with flying colours.
Here are just a few simple tips that I feel have got me this far; it took me a while to find what worked best for me and I have learnt that the way you revise in first year will most likely not be the way you learn four years down the line. You are constantly learning, developing and finding new ways that work for you. Experimenting with your learning now, whilst at uni, will prepare you for juggling pre-registration training and your revision for the pre reg exam!
A good, complete and comprehensive set of notes.
When it comes to revision you do not want to be looking through textbooks, typing definitions into Google and writing out truckloads of new information. As pharmacy students, we all know that there is way too much to read, and that it makes little sense to write and rewrite. I find that completing my notes with all the information I could need places me in good stead and gives me the confidence to know I have all I need to pass. I also like to think a good set of notes will be useful to refer back to during pre reg.
Teach what you know; vocalise it.
This is literally one of the best ways to ensure you have understood what you've been reading. If you can explain it and say it out loud to somebody else without them looking at you and thinking "what are you even talking about?" then you know you've got it. Speaking out loud can sometimes highlight areas you thought you knew, but realised you can't actually explain - we've all had those moments! Get together a small study group and work together, whether it's for a whole module or for specific areas you all find weaker. The way somebody else remembers and understands is different to you; and you may find it's easier and simpler than you think.
Make it fun!
Over the next two months, you’ll probably be revising for the majority of the day, but if you're not enjoying it you're going to hate it, you're going to shy away from it, and you'll end up doing far less than you should. Think of cool ways to remember side effects or interactions or personify a drug to explain its mechanism of action.
Get your 6-8 hours of sleep every day.
Do not spend 20-24 hours awake trying to read, as I guarantee you will have lost the will to live come exam day. Take regular breaks, have regular meals and a good sleep pattern, or soon you'll start to forget what day of the week you're on.
Maintain a positive mental attitude
Do not stand there the day of the exam talking about how you do not know anything or everything. Going in with a negative frame of mind will do more harm than good. Reassure yourself that you have been over everything; that there is nothing they can't ask you that you have not seen or read and walk in knowing you have done more than enough.
It sounds obvious, but having something to look forward to can fuel you to work that extra bit harder. This should be something you can enjoy, like a holiday, spa day, or a meal out with friends after an exam. You’ll deserve it! Be content with how far you've come and how far you’ll go!
Good luck! Don't stress and have faith in yourself and your ability, because you wouldn't have made it this far otherwise.
BPSA Eastern Area Coordinator 2015-2016