Posts Tagged ‘Kimmy’

When I started uni I was told not to do more than 7 hours of part time work each week. This is because uni actually takes up a lot of your time. Despite the few hours you may spend in classes, if you want to do well, you will need to put in a lot of hours of independent study. However the suggested work minimum isn’t a reality for most uni students. Many of us have moved out of home and now have to cover bills, accommodation, food, and toiletries (yep these run out too).

So how do you manage your university commitments and a part time job?

  1. First step is to make a weekly/fortnightly timetable that divides the day up into hours. This way you can see at a glance how many hours there are in a week and how much spare time you have.
  2. Put in all your uni classes first. Even those that only happen on rare occasions (when you don’t have these classes, use this time for study).
  3. Next step is to put in things like soccer practice, music lessons etc.
  4. So now we are up to ‘travel time’. A huge variable unfortunately. If you don’t drive to all these places, it’s a good time to look over some notes, listen to your lectures on an iPod/mp3 or even unwind a little by reading a book.
  5. So how many hours are left? Don’t forget to factor in things such as meals, getting dressed, and sleep. You’ll find most students will lose sleep in order to make more time for homework or end up sleeping on the train (if they can get a seat).
  6.  What still needs to fit into your timetable? Well, study, part-time work, and some down time to relax. So how much time should you give to study? Again, another huge variable. As a base line, for every hour you have a class (for uni students this is called a contact hour) you should do an (absolute) minimum of 1 hour study (during normal semester classes). If you can’t do that then you need to make some changes to your extracurricular activities.

After all that there might not be much time left so use it wisely. Having probably stressed you out a little here are a few suggestions to dealing with anxiety:

  • Many universities will offer (free) lunch time sessions in meditation, time management, and managing stress to name just a few (Melbourne certainly does so make the most of them).
  • yourself time to relax, even if it’s just half an hour a day to watch your favourite show or read a book.
  • Don’t let yourself get bogged down in e-mails e.g. try and limit yourself to checking them three times a day.

What is a PhD?

It stands for Doctor of Philosophy and involves a huge research project but beyond that I didn’t really know so I went and asked a friend who’s currently completing one.

What is involved in a PhD?

A research project* that you work on with the guidance of a supervisor.

* A research project generally involves coming up with a theory or something that you want to investigate such as an unknown feature, and then pursuing this through an experiment. Not all PhD projects will involve a laboratory based experiment.

How is it different to an Honours project?

It really is up to you to research the appropriate literature and come up with your experimental design (the method of testing). While you have a supervisor for both courses, a PhD requires you to be far more independent.

An Honours project is generally one year. How long does a PhD take to complete?

Around 3-4 years.

What is your PhD about?

I’m looking at a particular neuron (a type of cell in the body). These cells are located in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and I want to investigate the path they take. I’d like to complete an anatomical (structural) survey for this cell as nobody really knows where it goes. If we can work this out then maybe we can work out it’s physiology (what it does).

How do you do this?

I inject a virus into laboratory rats. It attaches to these cells making them turn green. This helps me see which structures they go to.

How long is a thesis (written report of all your work)?

What was your pathway into Science?

I completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology in America. It involved a neuroscience component which I really enjoyed, partly because I had an inspirational professor. What I really like about science is that there is a lot about it that is unknown.

What happened after you graduated?

I was a research assistant for a few years. You get to learn a few investigative techniques as well as contribute to some publications. Then I came to Australia and began my PhD.

What is an average day for you?

A balance between writing, experiments, teaching, and reading. Most PhD students will work as a demonstrator (the teacher in the prac classes). It’s great to see a student understand something new and I really enjoy sharing what I’ve learnt with them.

Thanks Charles!


Here are a few things about the pre-req. subjects for medicine. It’s sort of a ‘behind the handbook’ look at each of them but remember that the assessment may have changed for your year.

(1) Principles of Human Structure

  1. You might be given a PRS clicker. It means personal response system. If you complete Integrative Human Physiology in the same semester you’ll use the same clicker for each subject. In the lectures, questions will be put up, usually based on a concept that would have just been discussed. You use the clicker to answer A, B, C, D or to type in an answer. You need to answer something like 75% of the questions to get the full 5% (and they don’t need to be the correct answers). It’s a pretty easy way to get some marks and may be the difference between a H1 and H2A. Here is the down side: different lecturers will have different amounts of questions so if you’re sick one day you might miss 5 questions or 20.
  2. There were two MSTs when I did this subject. These tests were partly based on the pracs and there were true/false questions to do as practice. You also got the answers to these questions and we were told that they would be on the MSTs. Very easy marks.
  3. You might get three lectures (1 lecture on each) on endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm derivatives. Even though they are only given a small amount of time, don’t make the mistake of thinking that they will only be given a 1 or 2 mark question. We had a 10-15 mark question on mesoderm derivatives.
  4. You will have seen all the pictures for the practical exam before in your lectures, prac notes, or on Anatomedia. Review these. If they give you practice questions with certain features numbered, know these but also know what the other structures are in the image.

    Patrick J. Lynch, Human head anatomy with external and internal carotid arteries. Licensed under Creative Commons. Downloaded from on 20th May 2011.

(2) Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  1. The tutorials are probably not what you are used to. There are usually around 100 kids in a lecture theatre but it’s pretty interactive with the lecturer going through some questions and students can bring up areas that they have trouble with.
  2. The exam will most likely be divided into the different sections that each lecturer took. This is great as you can do your strongest areas first.
  3. You may have 3 hours to do this exam and it will probably only take you two.

(3) Integrative Human Physiology

  1.  Similar PRS advice to Principles of Human Structure.
  2.  Either Human Structure or Human Physiology provided many practice exams. Complete these questions to get an idea of the topics covered however the formatting might be different in the final exam (for Human Physiology) e.g. we had diagrams to label, putting steps into correct orders, and your basic questions. We could choose which questions to do, something like 5/7 for section A and 1/3 for section B. Keep in mind that some questions take longer than others e.g. putting 15 steps into a correct sequence will most likely take longer than answering a few short answer questions.

With end of semester exams on the way, it’s time for a few exam hints to get you through the study period so you don’t have to resort to this:

There are many ways to tackle an exam: this is not one of them!

Here’s a few that have helped us through the years:

o1 :: Write notes in your own handwriting: it sounds simple, but this is a fantastic way of facilitating your memory. For some people, re-writing out your entire compliment of notes (combining lecture notes, your notes and extra tid bits) is the best way to remember everything. For others, you may want to try something less extreme.

o2 :: If repeatedly writing something over and over again won’t help, write your notes in a new format. You may need to do something more engaging e.g. write an acronym.

o3 :: Are you a visual learner? Take over the kitchen and bathroom with hand-made posters. If you make them yourself you will remember the content better e.g. write out things like the process of photosynthesis and stick it up on your kitchen wall. That way you’ll revise it every morning over breakfast.

o4 ::  Make your own flashcards.

o5 :: Get together with a friend and each of you draw a diagram but leave the labels out. Swap with your friend and see which areas you can fill in.

o6 :: Colour your notes: Relating information to colours will help you remembering.

o7 :: Take short breaks for exercising or doing something fun. When you are relaxing your give your brain some time to encode what you just learned and put it into your long-term memory.

o8 ::  Before you start, clean up your room so that you wont be distracted  (the only time it’s almost fun to clean your room is when you have to study if you don’t)

o9 ::  Utilise your lecturers – they are there to help if you do not understand something. But approach them with organised questions. They will be unable to help you if turn up saying you need help understanding a whole topic.

1o ::  Bouncing ideas off friends can be a great way to learn – but know your strengths. If group work distracts you, work alone.

11 :: Answer lots of practise questions. The only way to truly test your understanding of concepts is to utilise practise exams and questions. The best way to learn is by getting the questions wrong and having to investigate where you made a mistake – so celebrate incorrect answers!

12 :: Don’t forget to revise your prac book – most exams will test you on practical knowledge, or even prac procedures (e.g. what to clean a pipette out with if you are using X chemical).

13 :: Prepare the night before: get all your exam equipment, student card and seat number ready. Arrive nice and early to double-check your seat number and ensure you’re there for reading time. You don’t need the added stress of things going wrong on the day of your exam.

14 :: Sleep! Some people will pull all-nighters the night before the exam. Sleeping and dreaming is actually critical for converting short-term memory into long-term. You will recall more facts after a decent night’s sleep, believe it or not!

15 :: On that note, eat lots, too. Your brain won’t function without food. You may not feel hungry (the adrenaline produced during study will quell your appetite), but your brain won’t power as well on empty.

16 :: Previous themes will give you an idea of what questions will be asked – look out for these in past exams!

Languages at VCE and at University

So you went away on the school trip to another country (for me this was Japan in Year 9) and fancy yourself a (beginner) bilinguist. Many uni’s including Melbourne, offer beginner language subjects for people who’ve never done a language before and higher level classes for people who want to continue a language after VCE. At Melbourne Uni they are called breadth subjects. With the new Melbourne Model even budding young scientists in the Bachelor of Science/Biomedicine can continue or start a language. Just FIY guys, a language is just one avenue. You may have a passion for music, history, African drumming etc. No, I did not make that last one up. So what does this mean for all of you? Depending on how strongly you feel about a language you can do it at VCE or wait until Uni. However guys, you can’t escape the dreaded oral exam wherever you go. It’s just part of doing a language. Here is something else you might find interesting. You can do what is called a Diploma in Languages at the same time as your Bachelor of Science. What happens usually is this stretches out the usual 3 years into 4 years and your breadth subjects are occupied by language subjects.

There is an upcoming Information Night regarding the study of Engineering and Information Technology at Melbourne Uni, open to all uni students and secondary school students if anyone is interested. Overall just a heads-up on what you will be likely to undertake in these fields of study… Details are listed below

Here is a link to the campus map if you need directions
Unimelb Parkville Campus Map

                    Wednesday 11th May 2011 6:30pm -8:30pm
                    Theatre A, Elizabeth Murdoch Building
                    The Univertsity of Melbourne, Parkville Campus,
                    Melbourne Victoria
                    Steph Mollica  (+ 61 3) 8344 3340


Current and Prospective Students


                     Click here to register for this event


This session will cover how to study Engineering and IT at Melbourne.

Registration: 6:30pm
Information session: 7:00pm – 8:30pm

A University level subject at high school:

This is a wonderful opportunity to get a taste of uni life (and this includes the wild parties Mat tells you about). While some high schools may offer a university level subject, the same principles apply for doing any higher level subject, plus a few more:

– You will have to attend university so keep in mind how much time will be spent travelling and the cost.

– Some university classes are held in the evening e.g. I did psychology in my first year at uni which ran on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5-6pm. This meant I didn’t get home until after 7 (a huge change for someone who lived within walking distance from high school). Good news though most lectures are recorded so you can listen to them online.

– First year uni subjects have tutorials. These are usually on during the day and attendance might be compulsory to pass.

– Uni is based on independent study e.g. I’m on a train writing this as opposed to a classroom.

– Your uni subject may contribute to your ENTER/ATAR and if you get into the university that offered the subject, it may also count towards your degree. Just a reminder guys that different uni’s have different rules about this sort of thing and they can change on a semesterly/yearly basis.

– The content will triple. You’ve probably heard uni only runs for 2×3 month semesters, so lecturers have to compress alot of information in a very short space.

All the best!