After a long and exhausting first term filled with the joys of online learning and lockdown, comes second term. New term and a fresh start, the perfect time to stick to that New Years resolution of being on top of your work, right? Wrong! The excitement of coming to uni has worn off and now we’re all stuck at home wary of approaching exams but too unmotivated to get our heads down. It’s okay, we’ve all been there, especially with the year we’ve all just had. Whether you’re getting overwhelmed with the amount of revision to do or lockdown is taking its toll on you, the MM committee has come together to give you advice on how to keep going in second term (members of committee from second year all the way to fifth have inputted in this blogpost, so you know there are some REAL pearls of wisdom!)
MAKE A PLAN (and stick to it)Second term can be quite overwhelming, it seems like everyone has gotten serious and the countdown to exams has started, meanwhile you’re still catching up on first term content. But don’t worry, there are so many people in the same place as you. Instead of letting the pressure of everyone else racing ahead or asking questions you have never heard of in the year group chat, get to you, relax and focus on what you have to do. Firstly, don’t feel guilty about not having done any work over Christmas, it’s a needed break (especially during covid). Make a list of all the lectures you have to go over (I know it looks scary) but if you START EARLY (aka now) there is honestly still plenty of time to get through it all, this also means if you haven’t found your footing with your study method then you can still take time to experiment and find what works for you (if you are stuck then click here for the slides from our study skills workshop on active learning and productivity). Divide the content up into manageable chunks and set realistic goals. A great way to do this is to set your goals for how much you want to cover per week, instead of specific targets for each revision session, so for example ‘Review cardio by the end of the week’. Make sure you set targets that allow you to cover all the content at least twice by ONE month before your exam. This allows you some space so you’re less stressed if you start falling behind and can cover for a third time the topics that you’re really struggling with. Sometimes you won’t achieve everything you set out to do, but as long as you stick to a practical schedule, and make steady progress, you’ll be fine. So do take days off to chill, this is a harder time to work under than there’s ever been: don’t be afraid to take some time out when you need to, your wellbeing is more important than anything. But don’t be too easy on yourself and take whole weeks off, this will only cause you to get extra stressed as you get closer to exams. Another thing to really emphasise is DONT COMPARE WHERE YOU ARE WITH OTHERS. Everyone learns at a different pace, in different ways. Some topics that you find hard to remember may come easily to others and vice versa. Don’t stress, and as long as you’re keeping track of your own goals, it’s all good.
AVOID BURN OUTAnother thing during second term is that not only are you learning new things, but you’re also revising old content and having to study so much can easily lead to burn out. So, take it slow, but steady, if you start off intense, you’ll burn out later when you really need to be working. Spaced repetition is a great way of active learning and simultaneously avoiding burn out. Once you’ve covered a topic, revisit it later on when you start to forget it, this way calls for more variety, making revision slightly less monotonous, whilst also studying smartly and efficiently – win win! Get involved socially in whatever you can, there’s a real risk of getting shut in and lonely right now with lockdown. So even if you’re not feeling particularly social (it can happen after feeling isolated for so long) check in with friends and keep in touch, be there for each other – it will show you that everyone around you is going through similar levels of stress and you’re all in it together. With more online learning this term, make sure you’re not spending all day in front of a screen. When you take revision break, try and step away from the screen for a bit so you can feel more refreshed and therefore be more productive when you start working again. Don’t get sucked into revision, keep up daily habits such as exercise and remember to treat yourself (maybe use it as an incentive to meet those goals). If you’re truly worried that you’re falling behind, get in touch with your personal tutor, the SU, older years and reach out wherever possible, everyone and anyone is willing to help you.
RENEW INTENTIONSWhen it all gets really dreary and you get bored, as is inevitable, just remember that reason that you chose to do medicine in the first place. The one you put in your personal statement and the answer to the question “why medicine” which you practiced over and over when preparing for interview which can seem so long ago. It helps to remind yourself why you’re doing this when the going gets tough. Forget what everyone else is doing and just make that hopeful 17 year old proud. Remind yourself that you’ve worked so hard to get into a top medical school, use that motivation to keep your drive alive and persevere on! Also, it’s only a matter of a few more months, before exams will be over and you’ll have third term (totally chill) and summer to unwind. And lastly, remember to have fun. We know the nature of uni and exams can take the enjoyment out of it but look forward to the topics you find fascinating. Since ultimately, you’re here at medical school because you should be (at least a little bit) interested in the degree. Try and do things on time so that you’re not pressured (which can really take the fun out of cool topics), and that way you can spend free time doing other things in the knowledge you’re on top of your work. I hope you gained something from reading the advice in this post, or it at least left you feeling inspired and ready to take on term 2! Have faith, we’re all going to get through it!
MM Wellbeing Officer 2020-2021