Monday, 9 July 2012

Question Spotting at University

Question spotting is significantly frowned upon by university lecturers.
  1. It means you've only learnt a small proportion of the course and are at risk of being tripped up in the exam. 
  2. Lectures are lazy and want to reuse questions but still be satisfied that you kind of learnt the course.
My department, SBCS, has a policy of releasing the past three years of exam papers. I know that at Barts, the policy is to release none, completely preventing exam spotting.

Three years is unfortunately or fortunately enough to spot patterns. 

Rule 1 - If you are provided with practice or exemplar MCQs in high quantities, these will be used in the exam.
Rule 2 - If you are given a FAQ booklet about exams and they explain how to do calculations or answer particular questions, they will 99% come up in the exam.
Rule 3 - If you have essay portions like me, then try and find the common themes in the essays. Setting mark schemes for essays in long winded so lecturers will tend to pick four or five topics for essays, saving the rest for shorter questions.

Based on my results, using question spotting for some modules appears to have gained me a C. That means that less than a week's worth of revision for one module has allowed me to pass with a comfortable grade. I don't recommend it as it's a risk that tripped me up in one or two exams but it helped me cut out a lot of crap. I promise I won't do it in medicine (mainly because its impossible as they don't release past papers to stop this)


Once again I start by apologises for leaving my blog alone for so long.

  • Exams are over. Results are in. I turned up to every exam and passed. I am currently on a 2:2 but waiting on the results of my extenuating circumstances from my appendix to bring my results up to a 2:1 
  • I am back in Somerset for the moment, working in Wetherspoons. It's shit. I hate it. But its money. Which I seem to have spent.
  • I can't remember if I've mentioned this, but my Nan has oesophageal cancer. It is stage 4 and terminal. It has already led to several complications and she's getting weaker as the days go by. I expect her to go into the hospice within the fortnight :( To make things worse, my Grandad has been diagnosed with a kidney lesion. Apparently it has been caught early enough to be treated by microsurgery with no need for removal of the whole kidney. It appears cancer is in my genes because everyone of my Nan's ten brothers and sisters has died from a form of cancer. Now my Grandad has it, I'm sure I will get a form when I'm older.
  • I have been researching funding for Medicine. Looks like I can claim independence (from my parents) if I have a kid, get married, am financially independent or my parents die. I don't want a kid, my parents are still alive and kicking and I am not financially independent therefore, I need to get married if I want Student Finance to take my as an independent. 
  • Housing is sorting for next year. Load off my mind. It's a three story house with a living room and a garden. YAYYYYYYYY. No risk of being mugged or gas leak. Plus the landlady is amazing!!! 
I realise that this post is very 14 year old girl, with my emoticons and CAPS. Soz babes xxxxx :P

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Second Year Exams

So after fully recovering from appendicitis, I had less than a month till exams. I started off very worried but thanks to the motivation of an offer and to do better than 1st year, I am well on my way to getting that essential 2:1.

With four exams done, and four more to go, I am half way through and can't wait to be done. But in the weirdest way I am so glad that I am choose to do subjects that are examined. Many people claim to hate them and prefer coursework, but I love the thrill of opening an exam paper and knowing that you are going to destroy it!

That feeling happened today in my immunology exam. I have loved this subject since the module began and my notes were of such high quality that I was sharing them with class mates for revision (a first for everything I know). So when I opened the paper today, the MCQs were probably the biggest test. I sailed through the SAQs (at university and 33% of my paper was drawing pictures) and my essay was textbook. I feel like Pharmacology all over again (went very well thanks to question spotting).

I've had some housing drama today which has prevented me revising for my exam on Friday. I stress myself out about housing way too easily. But that's another story that I won't tell here.

Third year projects were also released today. I got my top choice. It's a science communication based project. It has zero lab time (yay!) and is all about writing (double yay!). As someone who has written for student media for two years, being asked to write two new scientist style articles doesn't worry me in the slightest. I'm aiming for a high first in this project and I think combined with PBL I should be able to do very well in my third year.

I wish I had more to write about medicine. In just over a years time I will be starting at Barts and the Royal London medical school. Till then, I'm a biomed who knows he should make use of his last year at Queen Mary (I know Barts is part of QM but when you join, you have to disown QM complete to be a BL medic)

Saturday, 31 March 2012

My Interview at Barts

When I first started applying for medicine, I heavily relied on TSR and blogs for advice and guidance. Subsequently I have always seen my blog as a learning tool for others following in my footsteps. Now that I have an offer I can share my interview. People can understand what I was asked and how I responded.

Before the interview I was asked to read this article and "hear my thoughts" on the issue.

14th February 2012
I arrive, register and am taken to the Common Room. I am then taken to the Old Library where I sit with a few of my fellow coursemates and some people I don't know. The Old Library is a big, spacious room and they have set up several booths to conduct the interviews. I can hear little snippets of each conversation i.e. "New Scientist", "What would you do...", "Passion".

Me and a friend talk with the medical student. All being 21 we are more confident than the 17/18 year olds next to us, waiting for their interviews.

I'm finally called and the interview knows exactly who I am. It was hard, two guys and the rest girls. I'm Caucasian and the other guy is Asian. If you knew my name, you'd make the same judgement as well.

She leads me to the very last booth in the room telling me about who she and the other interviewer are.

I sit down, announce "So this is it" and they both smile. We begin by discussing the process in which I am applying. Deferred entry for 2013. This moves onto my modules choices for third year of Biomed and I discuss the SBCS restructuring. One of my interviewes is a medical scientist and is very concerned about this. She is a lecturer on my third year module of Endocrine Physiology. We have a genuine conversation on it, before we realise that I'm here for a medicine interview.

We discuss the benefits of having a degree before medicine, and one of my interviewers thinks that all applicants should have a degree before hand because it matures you and makes you a better medicine applicant. I'm loving this interview already.

I am then asked about the article we were asked to read. I start by discussing the journalistic points of the article and then move onto the ethical reasons. I talk for a few minutes, running through my prepared answer and coming to a logical conclusion.

We then discuss a scenario about someone who is obese and would they remain the same weight after the operation. I am repeatedly pushed to defend my opinion at this point. I assumed it was a test to make sure I would stand my ground on the subject.

I am then asked "Why Barts?". I start with my mention of Hackey, Shoreditch and Bagels (all my friends laughed at this). I then move onto clinical reasons such as local prevalent diseases. They stop me at this, as if they have heard enough already and I wish I could have talked about PBL and dissection.

We move on to "What have I done to prepare for medicine?"

I discuss work experience, volunteering, working for DWP. This briefly leads them to review my personal statement and ask me how JD Wetherspoon could possibly be beneficial to Medicine. I explain about my A&E work experience. How I dealt with drunk people in both situations.

"Has anyone tried to put you off medicine?"

I discussed how I know medical students who have cried at exams. That the course was so intense they broke down. This was a difficult answer. I was criticised for this because if students can't deal with exams, how can they deal with being a doctor? I responded and defended my statement.

I also talked about other negatives I've viewed from my work experience and what I know.

"How would I deal with death as a doctor?"

I started off answering this about in terms of a medical student. I was stopped and they reasked the question. I then talked about empathy and professionalism and I knew I had hit the buzz words. Lots of nodding from one.

"Any questions?"

This surprised me. They said it had been "a good interview" and I was very pleased to hear that. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't believe it was over so quickly, so I just ended with "Barts has always been my first choice. Plus I'm in love with the library." They agreed. One of the interviewers wished she could enjoy bagels with no consequences. We all laughed, I shook hands and left.

Apart from one job at the student union, I have got every job I have interviewed for. I felt confident about this but at the same time I felt like I could have said so much more. I lived in nervous wait for over a month before I heard. I love the two woman that interviewed me and when I meet them again, I will thank them over and over!

Advice for Barts
Barts are so nice. It blew me away how nice they were. At the same time, I heard from friends that their interviews were not as nice as mine.

In my opinion, Barts made you feel comfortable but were not afraid to push you so that you would defend your opinion/answer. I felt on a few occasions that they were being conflicting, just to see how I would deal with the pressure, how I would respond to the attack on my view.

I can't fault Barts. They were lovely to me and I got an offer. Plus I'm probably known as 'Bagel Guy" in the admissions office.

Last teaching week of Year Two

Listening to : Obsessions - Marina and The Diamonds

It's the end of term. I came back for a week but couldn't attend half the lectures because my recovery from my appendix is taking much longer than expected. But I'm ploughing through. I have four weeks till my first second year exam. SCARED.

I need to get a 2:1 (60%) this year. I have something to aim for. I have something that I have dreamt of for years. Yet I am filled with panic at the thought of the knowledge I must cover. I never learn. I'm always in this position.

But enough about that. I'll recap this week at uni. I came back and my flat was a mess. Now, I'm not a neat freak or anything but when all my plates have been used and left all over the place I was mad. I shouted at a guest who was staying (brother of a flatmate) and made him tidy it up.

Then I came to uni and met up with people. Out of the seven or eight that applied to medicine, two got rejected. One of my close friends was one of them. I feel horrible for her because, while I've been dignified about getting an offer, others haven't. Another friend who was rejected before interview has been quite nice about the whole thing. We had an end of term BBQ yesterday (SUNNY) and we had a good chat about what his plans were. It's nice that I can talk about it with people. Hopefully they don't see me as a twat now.

Also as we make the move to third year, we have to decide projects. Every conversation with course mates seems to cover the topic of projects.

"What you going to do?"
"Who've you spoken too?"
"What are you interested in?"

I hate labs. I think I've expressed that feeling a lot on this blog. So the idea of giving up my summer to work in a lab for two months is hideous. Almost none of the projects interest me. And the one that I wanted isn't being run this year because of the Olympics. Damm Olympics. Although it got my Hackney Weekend tickets so I shouldn't complain.

Yes, because I live in an olympic London Borough, I had access to exclusive Radio 1 Hackney Weekend tickets. I choose Saturday because Jay-Z, Two Door and Ed Sheeran are playing. Best £2.50 ever!

Anyway choices. I want the module worth 30 credits called Project Skills. It's lots of essays, mock journals and New Scientist style articles. With my experience in Student Union journalism, I think this module is for me. YET it's very competitive and they are using my grades from first year. If I don't get it, I have to do a basic lab module and an extra module.

I shall cross that bridge when I come to it because I HAVE AN OFFER FOR MEDICINE :D

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


That's right. I am currently holding an offer for Barts and The Royal London Medical School to study MBBS Medicine for 5 years.


It hasn't really sunk in. I've waited for this day for a long time. And now it's here. All I'm doing is jumping up and down shouting.

It's conditional on me getting a 2:1. Which means I need to work. Now.
So back to my essay :(

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


You're waiting for a train.
A train that'll take you far away.
You know where you hope this train will take you.
But you can't know for sure.
Yet it doesn't matter.
Now, tell me why?
Because you'll be together!

One of my favourite movie quotes.

I'm still waiting. Post offer open day is next Wednesday. Very soon. I just want to know.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


So reading week has come and gone at Queen Mary. Mine has been quite eventful.

I noticed that the day after my interview I had abdomen pain in my lower right quadrant. I initially assumed it was stressed and that it would go. However after two or three days it didn't and I started to get worried. I pulled out my Kumar and Clark and check the symptoms for appendicitis. I had the pain but no nausea, fever or diarrhoea. So I waited.

I waited for over a week until I was back home in Somerset with my family. When the pain got so bad, I went to see my GP who sent me straight to A&E with a referral.

I was admitted on the Friday, operated on the Saturday and released on Monday (last week). The surgeons confirmed it was appendicitis after and were nothing but nice to me. My real praise goes to the nurses though. My hospital was at peak capacity that weekend. So much so, that I was kept on a day ward for my entire stay. I lost count of the number of shift changes I saw but each and every nurse was amazing. They cared, they genuinely wanted to help me and had the patience of a saint.

I was so impressed by the NHS and it made me fear America. If I had to worry about money before entering hospital, then the entire experience would have been different.

Surprisingly, it took my mind off my Medicine application because I couldn't access emails.
I'm slowly recovering. Slower than I'd like. Wounds are healing well, but I've still got some pain issues and after 10 days I might be slightly worried. I've missed over a week of uni and with exam timetable just being released I'm panicking slightly.

Also Barts are dragging their heels at releasing offers/rejections. I know that they released information yesterday for graduates applying for A100. I didn't hear anything so I'm not classified as a graduate. According to TSR that leaves me as a reapplicant or school leaver. I would assume reapplicant is more appropriate. This would mean that I would be hearing from Barts today. WOW. Writing that just made me get butterflies. I could be hearing from Barts today. Or not. This is all based on patterns detected by TSR. However those crazy people are usually right.

I'll let you guys know either way.

Monday, 20 February 2012

I'm dreaming of...

Its been just under a week since my interview and I am obsessing. All I can think about is Medicine.
And I have repeatedly thought what I would do while I was on the degree.

Well first of all I'll be spending five years minimum at Barts.
Then I may want to intercalate in something like Medical Education.
I definitely want to be a Sabbatical Officer at Barts.
I also want to be the editor of Student BMJ for a year.

So currently, that's eight years in medical school. Am I crazy?
Maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up like this till I know if I've got an offer.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


"Why do you want to come to Barts?"

"Well it's in East London, and there is a brilliant 24 hour bagel shop in Shoreditch"

I shit you not.

But they loved it.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Interview in Two Days...

Excited. Nervous. Eating chocolate fingers by the truck load. I don't normal binge eat from nerves. Odd.

So I have met with three medical students. One the Student Union President. I have read the following two books cover to cover:
Medical School Interviews - Lee, Picard
Succeed in Your Medical School Interview - Dr See
I prefer the second one by Dr See. He writes from experience and I found that his questions were much more open, making you consider where they could go and what the panel were looking for. Picard seems to waste a lot of questions on what they could ask you in the NHS. This could have been set as a learning point and several pages saved. If you plan to buy any books, I recommend both for the key motivation questions, but if you are short for cash then the second one is the better of the two.

I'm getting too excited. I'm imagining everything I am going to do as a med student. As a doctor. This is bad. I was devastated in August 2009 and three years on, I know that if I don't get this, I will be devastated again. I'll get over it. But being told no to a career that I've given a lot already is... trying to say the least.

Several of my friends and course mates have also got interviews for both undergraduate and graduate medicine at Barts. I think we originally all agreed, non-verbally, not to mention the interviews but as it has got closer, it dominates our conversations. Even friends who aren't applying are probably sick of me talking about it. Without being cocky, I may not be the strongest academic candidate by far, but I have the best extracurriculars. I have a life and all these skills will relate to medicine. My personal tutor at Queen Mary once told me that Barts love people who are well rounded. They look beyond the grades.

The only thing I can hope is that my passion will show at interview. I need to remember to smile. And related EVERYTHING back to Barts. I think I finally understand what X-Factor contests mean when they say "I really want this". I really want this. So much. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

1st of the Month

Pinch Punch.

Up early. Off to talk to the Presidents of Barts and the London Student Association (BLSA) for interview tips. I love visiting Whitechapel!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Why be a Doctor Over a Nurse? (Update)

Update: This is one of the most popular posts on my blog. I assume that it is mainly potential medicine applicants looking at it for ideas for their personal statement and blog. To help my knowledge and yours I thought I would update it with a better understanding.

  • Doctors gain trust very easy in comparison to other caring professions.
  • The combination of an mental challenging job with daily interaction with patients and staff is rare in other roles. While I'm not saying that a nurse's job is not challenging, there is only so much they can progress and even specialised they follow protocols. 
  • Teaching and research play a key role in the job. While nurses are involved in research, it is common for the doctor to take the lead and a nurse be involved in the practical execution. 
  • By studying medicine, you have the choice of being a GP, hospital, surgeon or a lab doctor. This level of variety is not afforded by a career in nursing. This initial training is very general so you can literally do anything. When a patient's management exceeds a specialty, they have this knowledge to rely on. This knowledge is also developed through clinical skills that must be tested by Royal College exams
  • Also doctors are financially rewarded for their work and with clear pay grades that can exceed higher than a nurse.

This is in no way a dig at nurse or any attempt to insult doctors. A question that rises in most interviews which I could be expected to answer one day is "Why do you want to be a doctor?" or "Why a doctor instead of a nurse?". This post will incorporate my feelings and career knowledge so I can answer that question myself. I know I want to be a doctor, but I want to be able to explain it fully and here's my chance.

Above are print screens taken from the NHS website describing the careers of the two areas. To me there is an immediate difference. Nursing is described as a more caring and supporting job, while Doctors are more scientific and diagnostic. Yet I know that many nurses can prescribe, create treatment plans and are independent. Both aim to cure the patient but have different means and procedures. Also Doctors are not just leaders, they are dependent on the team (Nurses and co.) for support and help. It is a group effort.

Many people would beg me not to say these in an interview (People on TSR :P) but I feel they are honest answers to the question. I would of course phrase them differently but money, status and job certainty (in the world not necessarily the UK) are also reasons for medicine. Anyone who is doing it purely to repay the world or help others is kidding themselves. I've done enough work experience and read enough blogs to know this is simply not true. People abuse and use the NHS. Not every patients will want to be saved. You may have a kind heart but unless you are completely dedicated to medicine other reasons must drive.

Blog Theme

Messing around with my blog. Not sure about it yet. It's very limited in customisation.

In other news. I am very excited about my interview!!!!! Doing a lot of prep right now so hopefully it will pay off.

I have also purchased a brand new Apple Macbook Air :D
My laptop broke last week and I've been putting off getting a replacement. I've wanted one for ages. I finally took the plunge and bought one. It's so... SEXY

Wednesday, 25 January 2012



Friday, 13 January 2012

FML Update

My Dad scanned across a copy of the letter (sent to my home address, god knows why?) and I've only been rejected from graduate course, not undergraduate. Fingers crossed. Ish.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Rejected from Barts. Dull microbiology lecturers. This day has been shit.

Friday, 6 January 2012

I'm so famous...

Hope your New Year was just as good as mine. I'm full of Christmas food and chocolate, preparing for my return to the academic world. I will be writing a post based on many comments including Ms-Ellisa's about my alternative plans. However this post isn't about that. It's about an intriguing comment that I got on my last post.


...sort of.

I was recently featured in a Top 10 Medical Student Blog list run by Medical Artist. I came in eight. I'm delighted that I was even featured on the list at all. After all, while I study Biomedical Science, I wouldn't consider my self a medical student in that sense. I reserve that title for those studying medicine and the fact everyone else on the list is a true medical student makes me wonder if I'm in the wrong category. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful to Medical Artist for their recognition and appreciate the potential for more readers BUT I would like anyone reading this blog to know that I am:
  • studying Biomedical Sciences at Queen Mary, UoL;
  • applied to Medicine at college before Biomed;
  • currently applying to Medicine while studying Biomed
Hope that clears everything up. Also check out the list because I regularly read number one and have casually glanced at other sites featured.