My poor relationship with revision

Medical school requires a lot of revision (who’d have thought!). On the Warwick GEM course there is an end of first year exam which is the first two years of nonclinical teaching, condensded into one and then tested in a massive lump sum at the end of the year. The exam is the exact same one i failed last year by two marks. There is a pressure to pass… a massive pressure as this is truly my last chance and its definitely affecting my ability to revise successfully.

With the Covid-19 outbreak this exam has been moved to the first week of October and though i am immensely glad for the extended revision time (in normal circumstances I would have had two weeks), I am beginning to get more and more stressed about the exam. Interestingly, a lot of the stress isn’t about the actual exam, but the revision process.

The motivation for revision is hard, with the extended deadline there is somewhat of a reduced time pressure and so it can be very easy to justify not doing it wheen you wake up not in a decent mindset for revision. Also as someone resitting the year, this time i am revising i am probably seeing the exact same piece of information for the six or seventh time (at least!). It makes it hard to keep a topic fresh and exciting. Which i think was a massive struggle i had last year.

I’ve been finding it hard to settle on a revision method. In the last week I’ve changed methods every other day. I’ve been using ANKI, tried condensing, utilised anatomy drawing and also tried making revision style posters for topics. Whilst I can see how mixing up my revision techniques is helping with my boredom, i really don’t think it has been helping me retain the information. This is where my biggest fear has come from with the whole process. I am scared of not retaining any information. So I’ve been panicking a little bit; I admit it. But I was really struggling with trusting myself and trusting the work I was putting it. After a small talk with my personal tutor yesterday I’ve really seen the difference in not only my self confidence, but at the positive way I have started to view the revision process.

Another side effect of the Covid-19 outbreak has been the unknown surrounding my examination. Whilst my medical school has agreed that the exam will be held in person in October, there is still some unknown around the format of the exam. To me, this is important. I revise differently for an MCQ then i do a SAQ paper, and so i think not knowing whether to focus on one or the other; or prep for a hybrid paper like it was supposed to have been, has made it really hard to put a proper plan in place. It’s also been a contribution to not wanting to commit to a revision method or two.

sometimes you just need an adult to tell you what you already think you should do

After the meeting with my personal tutor and I am trying to be kind to myself. She told me that I have to view failing by two marks as just being unlucky. That for two marks I had essentially known enough to pass but had just been unlucky with a question or two. That not viewing it so negatively would give me more self confidence and help me get through the next 11 weeks without burning out. Honestly, I agree and know she is right… because two of my very good friends told me the same thing. But as I told my personal tutor, sometimes you just need an adult to tell you what you already think you should do. She laughed. I mean I am 23, should probably trust myself…


There is some irony that as I started writing this post my medical school emailed to change the planned exam format. Now the exam has been changed to a complete MCQ exam over two papers. They have done it so that if the plan to facilitate in person exams fail the exam can still take place online. Part of me is really grateful that the exam has been changed to this format. It’s definitely my strongest format for exams, my original year I passed all of the MCQ papers. This news has given me a little confidence and I am definitely feeling a little less weight on my shoulders. Whilst it hasn’t given me any less confidence It has certainly given me enough positive energy to really knuckle down with the revision with less of a grey cloud over my head.

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