Sunday, 14 April 2013

Next teaching block

I made my previous post the week before we broke up for Easter. And here I am a month later, back in my university town and about to embark the next block of classes. Certainly this is very different to how I'm used to doing things; on my previous degree Easter meant four weeks of cramming then a single month called the "exam semester" over which eight exams would be spaced out (or not, depending on how sadistic the course organisers were feeling that year). There was certainly no teaching or new material to absorb after the end of March.

Here, however, we have another four weeks of teaching for all of our second semester modules, then another three weeks off, then exams at the end of May. And unlike a non-medical degree, the exams aren't split into modules, there are only two papers which integrate all of the material taught since September. So I'm having to revise both what's been taught in semester 1 and semester 2. Luckily I've already been examined on the semester 1 material and I spent all of December revising it, so it's moderately fresh in my mind, but semester 2 is a lot more content heavy, and juggling both is something of a challenge.

I'm viewing this new set up of "teaching-holiday-teaching-study leave-exams" with a combination of academic curiosity, bemusement and borderline fatalistic resignation: frankly, the amount of work which was taught in the first eight weeks of the second semester was immense and I didn't manage to revise as much of it as I wanted to during the Easter holidays. In part, this was because I had something of a backlog of lectures to catch up on, so it took me a week to get fully up to date with my lecture notes. Then there were some family commitments and I went out to see friends and so on, so in practice I had about 2.5 weeks for pure revision. During this time, I managed to revise approximately the first four weeks of semester what this means is I still have another four weeks of material to revise, and come the middle of May another four weeks of new content (from the coming teaching block).

Basically, it's going to be very tight indeed. Some of the classes which will be taught over the next four weeks will be revision lectures (i.e. no new content) which will be good, and one of our modules is actually finishing this week, so that means an extra half-day per week for revision/ theoretically if I can keep my head above water and stay on top of things, I might not be totally screwed for exams at the end of May. But there is just SO much information to remember, on more than one occasion I've genuinely felt my brain can't absorb anymore...and I'm not even halfway done yet!


  1. Oh dear, sounds like a few sleepless nights. Though that structure (synoptic elements aside) does sound rather alike my present undergraduate degree!

    Is the grouping of both semester's work down the fact that your January exams were just formative? Or is it at least content that links in with your previous stuff?

    So what are the modules with the most content? I just noticed that you haven't actually named any syllabus!! haha.

    Good luck!

    1. Ahh it most certainly is turning into more than a few sleepless nights! The synoptic/integrated structure of the exams really means that you have to have a broad knowledge of everything at the same time.

      To answer your second point, yes I think it is partly because the January exams were formative, but I also think it's because our medical school wants us to still retain knowledge of the content taught in the earlier semesters. And examining us on everything taught to date at the end of each semester is certainly the best way of making people revise their old notes :P The content doesn't really tie in that much since it's a systems based syllabus.

      I would say that the module with the most content and which requires the most attention and work is musculoskeletal, hands down. I used to hate MSK at the beginning of the semester but now that it's become slightly more familiar it's not that bad...but it still demands A LOT of work.