Posts Tagged ‘tips and hints’

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.

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.

Your exams are coming up. You’ve probably got several assignments all due in the last week of semester. You have more work to do than there is time in the day.

Yet you just spent three hours on Facebook looking at photos of people you’ve never even met just because they randomly popped up on the sidebar.


Why do we procrastinate?

I’m procrastinating right now by writing this article. Why? Because the pile of assignments I have is just too draining, and so this seems easier, more enjoyable. Yet in fact it involves me doing the same thing I would be doing otherwise: sitting here and typing. The thing is, knowing you have to do something automatically kills the intrinsic interest you have in a topic. How many subjects have you absolutely loved the content matter of, yet found yourself hating it when the chore of having to do a major assignment or exam stresses you out? Which brings me to the next point:

Other times, it’s a way of dealing with stress. No matter how maladaptive procrastination is, it helps you leave behind the stress of the task at hand for a moment.


What type of procrastinator are you?

There are four distinct types of procrastination:

Self-Doubters:  Self-doubting procrastinators feel that they cannot live up to the standard of how something should be done. They second-guess everything and in doing so delay action.

Discomfort Dodging: That assignment is hard, that job is far too difficult, best I do the easy task first! Dodging the discomfort feels much better, so we put it off until later. Ironically, this just increases the level of discomfort when we have to face up to it!

Guilt-Driven: You feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for a task undone, but rather than correct the original lack of action, you procrastinate to not have to face up to the feelings of guilt.

Habitual: You’re just so used to procrastinating, you don’t even think about it, it’s just an ingrained response. The task becomes difficult, your concentration wavers and then you automatically decide to “just quickly check Facebook”.


So how do we beat procrastination?

The first sign, as always, is acceptance! Understand that you are procrastinating, why you are procrastinating and make it better. Then try these on for size:

o1 :: Eat An Elephant :: How do you eat an elephant? Chunk it down! Break up an overwhelming task into smaller pieces. Don’t have a break until you have finished the goal you set.

o2 :: Denounce Your Robotic Race :: If you are one of these people who stress over perfection: don’t! Accept you are only human, not a machine. Perfection is rarely attainable (if ever) and is even more rarely ever necessary. Use the 80/20 rule wherever appropriate!

o3 :: Free The Mind :: Minimise distractions: Turn off email notifications, find a quiet room, resist the urge to take breaks, unplug your internet if necessary!

o4 :: Cleanliness is next to Godliness :: Perfect your organisational skills. Have a clean work area. Have all stationary, notes, tools,  utensils etc in a proper place so you can find them when you need them. This will not only aid efficiency, but stop the urge to clean as a procrastination tool!

05 :: Schedule your priorities :: Distinguish obligations from options. Know what has to be done and estimate how long it will take to do it. List and prioritise (your student diary is perfect for that!). Set deadlines for decisions. Ask a parent/friend/sibling/partner to hold you accountable for sticking to your self-set deadline!

o6 :: Use the fork, Luke :: Stay healthy! Eats healthily and regularly, maintain a regular sleep routine, exercise for a break and always have breakfast

o7 :: Play Mum :: Remind yourself of the consequences of your actions. being lazy is going to end up with so-and-so happening to me. Only you will suffer the consequences!

08 :: Curing 3:30itis :: Do you lag in the afternoon? In the morning? After lunch? Use the lag time to make a list of things your want to achieve, so you can hit the ground running when you dive back into your work.

o9 :: Throw it into Reverse :: Take your excuse and turn it back onto itself. You’ll do it tomorrow because you’re too tired after work? Well take a 20 minute nap and then get started on that task! Make a solution task out of every excuse!

1o :: Play Santa :: Don’t forget to reward yourself for hard work done well! If you set yourself goals and achieve them, reward yourself by taking time off study to do something you want, something you put off to do the work

And with that, it’s time for me to return to my studies! Just after I make myself a coffee first…

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!