Course breakdown for FTM/CFP

I remember when I was starting this course, I searched for every source to gain more information. There are not a lot of detailed blogs out there so I decided to focus this one to give  a breakdown for every class and I hope it will be helpful. Remember that everyone studies differently, I am just giving a breakdown of what worked for me so it may not work for someone else so it’s really important to figure out your studying habits by quiz 1. If your studying strategies don’t work in quiz 1 then change them ASAP. Do not wait till midterms because it would be too late by then.

Anatomy: I really enjoyed this class. I know i know it is a lot of memorisation but you get used to it. I made sure that I looked at a single anatomy lecture atleast 3 times in 1 week.  I used to keep white-boarding until I was able to memorise the material and I realised this was extremely helpful for embryology where I was able to summarise the entire lecture on a single whiteboard. My friend used to quiz me by the end of the week once I was done memorising and she used to quiz me again before exams. I used to mark the slides I was unable to memorise and came back to them some other time. I made a master histology sheet and also made a blank copy and I used to label it myself before exams.

  • Anatomy lab : I used to spend my Sunday evenings looking at the lab images. I used to remove the labels from the lab images and then try to label them again. I made sure I was prepared for lab and I took the printed images to lab as well. Lab and buzz quizzes are not worth much but honestly every point counts in the end so it is important to score well on them.

Physiology: This was the hardest course for me. I did not have a good start because I was not sure on how to study for it but I identified my problem post-midterm and I really got my grade up. At the beginning of the course I was clear on my concepts but I could not apply them to practice questions which was a huge issue. To resolve that, I made sure firstly I understood the lectures. I used to make a concept map on the whiteboard and then add extra information by reading BRS textbook for that topic. I used to do BRS questions after that and I also did questions from Guytan and Pre test but they were harder. Also, I tried to reason why other options were incorrect. I used to try and do 15-20 MCQs in 1 hour for every topic and realised it was OK to get them wrong, that was the whole point to make mistakes then and not on the test! In the end I just wish I had done more practice MCQs for quiz 1 as well.

Biochemistry: Whiteboard! whiteboard! whiteboard! Yes I cannot emphasise enough. You will memorise gazillion pathways, enzymes and their regulations but it’s all doable if you whiteboard because it really helps you with recall. I used to draw out the pathway, regulated enzymes, activators and inhibitors and the location of the pathway. I used to take a picture of that whiteboard and then later try to draw it out again without looking.I only  focused on the lecture slides and paid extra attention when the professor spent more time on one slide over another.

Molecular Biology: Again I would only stick to the lecture slides. I memorised the slides and made sure I looked at those tiny fonts under the images because that could show up randomly on the exam. She dropped the lowest quiz grade so I made sure I aced my quiz 1 and did not have to worry as much for quiz 2 even though that information was on the final. I also went for SL sessions for this class and I found them extremely helpful. The exams were all first order questions  which was good.

Abnormal psychology: This was my favourite class, hands down. I will also sound biased because this was my minor in undergrad but either way this class is really interesting. I went to every lecture and wrote down all the examples she gave in class and also the videos she used to show for that topic. Whenever I studied for it next time, I could hear her voice playing in my head. I memorised the medications and then made sure I knew the diagnoses and durations thoroughly. Do her online practice questions because they were helpful and used to show up on the actual exam.

So this is a general breakdown but I could answer questions on how to memorize specific topics(e.g. muscles). As I said this worked for me but not necessary would work for everyone. It is extremely important to study smartly and not just hard. You could study for 12-13 hours and still not understand a topic. If you are stuck on a topic, MOVE ON. Yes move on to  a different topic and then go back to it. Apart from that it is important to get proper sleep. I made sure I slept 7-8 hours and at least 6-7 hours before the exams. You don’t want to be tired when you are taking an 8 am exam. Anyways, I hope this will help someone and feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions 🙂

I survived FTM

Where have I been for the past 2 months? Well, I had been at Modica study hall since my midterms got over. I just wanted to say that I successfully passed Foundations to Medicine Program and I received my acceptance letter to School of Medicine. This course was rigorous and as I had mentioned before that you have to maintain a 3.5 GPA and score 75% on PMSCE which is a cumulative exam at the end of the term.

First of all what worked for me? I moved out of Grand Anse dorm to the campus dorm. That place was a rumor mill and full of drama so I just wanted to distance myself from all those people. I had a strict schedule that I made sure I followed. I did well on my first round of exam and then midterms so I didn’t have to change any studying strategies except in physiology since that was my lowest grade. I met up with the course director and got his feedback and he identified the problem. I knew my concepts but I just could not apply them when I had to do MCQs. Hence, I started doing 1 hour of practice questions everyday and I used to reason out the incorrect answers as well. I was getting ready for the 3rd round and I made sure I was on top of all the tasks.

It was time for 3rd round of exams and I performed well in all my classes and I was able to raise my physio grade up which I was happy about. I was still focused but now the last stretch was approaching. Things around me started falling apart. People in the course didn’t perform well so more than half of our class withdrew. We started with around 200 people and were down to 90 people. Basically, if you take the final and if you don’t have the GPA then you can never come back but it you withdraw then you get a refund and you can repeat the semester. Pretty much FTM was a mess but I had to keep myself focused and not let anything or anyone bother me.

 

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Puppy therapy is the best therapy!

 

 

There was 1 month left to finals and I had no time to waste. There was no time to work out, I was talking to my mom for only 5 mins and I barely spoke to my father. I never stressed out the entire semester but I was getting exhausted now. Before coming here I had never abused caffeine as such but I realized I was drinking caffeine every single day. It wasn’t because I wanted to stay up but only because I had to keep going. 2 weeks before the finals I started having caffeine withdrawals. I couldn’t eat properly and I was always nauseous. I was crashing by almost 8 pm. It wasn’t just me though, my friends who were still in this course were in the same boat but we had to motivate each other to keep going. I finally caught up on all the sleep and decided to avoid caffeine as my finals were approaching. But now I thought I was going insane. We spent 14-15 hours sitting on one chair in the study hall. There was a point where I wanted to just scream. I finally changed my study location and studied more outdoors which really helped me focus again.

Well finals week was finally here. The exams were the same difficulty level as before and they went well. I can’t explain that feeling when I submitted my last test. It finally hit me that everything was over and I only had PMSCE left. I had decided to take that night off from studying. The scores came out the same night and I was extremely happy! I was able to maintain an A in all my classes and I was able to pull my grade to a B in physio which made my GPA into a 3.778. I don’t think I had ever worked this hard before and I am glad I did. PMSCE was a cumulative exam and I was told that if you did well in all your classes then it’s easy and no extra studying was required. The information was true because I passed PMSCE as well. I went straight to the beach after that when we all got the results. Everyone was just screaming and crying. I could not believe that it was all actually over and that I was about to officially start my MD journey.

At the beginning of the term, I got the best and worst advice ever – you need to be selfish here. I took the advice and now 21 exams, I am here. Despite the ups and downs I am glad I took this course. Four months ago, I can’t guarantee that I would have been ready for medical school but now I am mentally ready too. I finally believe in myself and I have a more positive attitude.  I know my studying habits and what’s required to get work done in Medical School. I am extremely excited because the countdown to White Coat ceremony has begun and my parents will finally see me wearing that coat in a month.

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Best study buddy ever! We both made it and she is going to UK for 1 year!

My next few weeks are about to be exciting. I was chilling on the beach all day and I explored Grenada. I am going to be in New York on Sunday and about to be reunited with my friends. After that I am flying to Munich where I will meet my father and then finally after 1 year I will be going to home sweet home India.

Ps: next blog is only going to be on “how to survive FTM” for people looking for more information.

 

Unwinding

Wow, I don’t know how to begin describing my last 3 weeks.  I spent in a small cubicle in a study hall with my laptop and white board(my new friend). I had 5 midterms last week and now I am finally free. I just did not get time to update my blog. Honestly, I felt like eating and even taking a shower felt like a waste of time sometimes because there was so much work!

Since my first round of exams, I made sure I was on top of all my material in my classes and I was reviewing over the weekends. I did not want to cram anything last minute so I was whiteboarding a lot. I realized that since I did well in my first round, I wanted to make sure I continued my strategies for the midterms as well. I made sure I was reviewing the new material everyday and going back to the old material on the weekend. I am really not into group studying since I find it distracting but I did find a study buddy. Her name is Tamseela and she is the nicest person I know here. We made sure that we studied on our own during the week and did not lose track and then over the weekend we used to quiz each other. If one person was behind, then the other made sure that they were caught up. I think this strategy really helped me. I had 22 lectures to memorize in Anatomy(including both old and new material). I made sure I did not ignore anatomy at all and reviewed atleast 2 lectures per day. Closer to the midterms, Tamseela and I were able to summarize most of the lectures into 1 white board session (like our 3 embryology lectures below).

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Hard work will pay off?
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I literally drew out muscles on myself to memorize them x_x

I also made sure I did practice questions for physiology every day since I did not do as well I wanted to in my first round. Over the weekend, I just went over all lectures from biochemistry and molecular biology. There was no time to waste, not even time to cook or do groceries. I was told that Foundations to Medicine is probably the hardest course and they were right. I think more than testing our knowledge in our science courses, SGU is trying to test how we manage our time, stress and workload. It is really important to have a positive attitude to keep yourself motivated.

Anyways, in the last 3 weeks I made sure that I was never stressed out or demotivated.  I kept myself focimg_0469used by finding different ways to unwind. Well to begin with, I have always hated running. I don’t mind working out but I am not a fan of running . I did not have time to go for my boxing classes so I found a new way to get my workout in. Whenever I felt like I was loaded with work, I put on my running shoes and just went around the campus and then realized how hard it was to go uphill(picture below). Well, my aim is now to be able to run up these stairs without losing my breath by the end of this month.

I found a cliff on my campus and it has the most amazing view. The cliff is extremely peaceful. You can just hear the waves hitting the rocks and the gushing wind. Since I had not gone to the beach in over 2 months, I started coming to this cliff to ‘unwind’ every weekend morning.

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Away from the crazy life

As I said I always studied in a quiet study hall and it used to get depressing at times to be stuck in the same cubicle for 16-17 hours in a day :/ . If I was not working on my laptop, I used to take a break from the study hall and study by the docks if the weather was pleasant.

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Studying with a view 🙂

 

I have only spoken about studying in my whole post but that’s my life right now and there is nothing else exciting going on. The only thing different in the last 3 weeks has been my room! I moved out of the room at Grand Anse dorm to a dorm on campus. I could not have been happier. My roommate and I found 3 roaches in a span of 1 week in the old dorm room. I AM TERRIFIED OF BUGS. I know I know, India has a lot of bugs too but I am still really scared of them. We had to call different people each time to kill the roaches for us and it was really affecting our studying time. Whenever I was in that room, I could just sense a roach was nearby. You know what made it worse? These creatures can fly…Anyways we told the housing to fog our rooms or relocate us. Luckily they had a double room open, so we got it. The room is small and I don’t have the beach view anymore but I can’t complain because I have my own kitchen now and I literally wake up 40 minutes before class.

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New view from my new room 

I finally signed the lease for a condo for next year so that is exciting and I can’t wait to move in!! I will have my own room and my own bathroom finally!

I am just glad my midterms are over. I am literally impressed that my brain could hold so much information, now I just need an external hard drive to store that extra information I will learn in the next few weeks 😛 . I had the best post midterm weekend too and I can’t wait to upload all my pictures and update everyone about it in my next post 🙂