Exams are a part of life for medical students and doctors. And regardless of how often we sit exams, with so many things happening in our lives, balancing life and exams can seem daunting.
Preparation is the key to success for tackling exams, and the best way to be prepared is to have a study plan.
Here are our top 10 tips for preparing a study plan:
- Understand the exams that you need to sit: when and where are they, do you need to enrol and are there any eligibility rules or additional requirements that might apply?
- Has your exam preparation in the past been ideal, do you need to try something new? There are many study techniques you could try, some we recommend are detailed in our webinar balancing life and exams.
- Know the learning techniques that work best for you. Do you retain information by reading, listening to lectures or podcasts, do you need to write notes?
- Map out the content the exams will cover and identify areas where you need to improve your knowledge.
- Set study goals for the knowledge you need to learn – consider using the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound).
- Be realistic about the content you need to cover before the exam – don’t leave it until the last moment. Evidence suggests that spaced learning (studying in small blocks) is more effective than studying in one block, even if the time spent studying is the same.
- Consider where and when you will study. Do you have work or family commitments that you need to fit study around? Should you join a study group? Can you study at home, or is there too much going on there?
- Aim to test your knowledge as you learn it, explain it to a friend, record yourself and play it back. Seek feedback. Don’t forget to revisit information you’ve previously learnt to keep it fresh.
- Apply your knowledge to exam-style questions.
- If there is something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to seek assistance.
Importantly, know yourself and your capability for study, be aware of burn out, your well being is paramount.