Monday, December 19, 2011


Holiday technically started a week-ish ago, but because of results, it didn't feel much of a holiday. It's been quite a few days since results (yes I realize my exam and results post were fairly recent...but in reality my exams were like 2 weeks ago). I will be going back home to spend my short winter holiday and just make the most of my time with family and friends. Should be good so I'm really excited. Seems like I haven't had a break in ages, but technically just got off in August. This year has been extremely long.

Anyways I will be off for a few weeks. So happy holidays to everyone and congratulations to those who have already received offers (yay!) and those who have received interviews! For those who are still waiting, try your best to not think about it and have a nice holiday/break!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Close Call.

If you have read my previous post on would have noticed that this exam was very difficult and I was fairly convinced I had failed. From last day of exams to results...I had 7 days to ponder and scare myself/reassure myself. Easily the most anxious 7 days of my life. First day post exam - I swear I was brain dead. I couldn't do anything properly. At the same time - I was in a bit of a depressed state of mind. Also found it very difficult to sleep. Mind you, I'm not the type that worries about stuff. I literally am a happy-go-lucky/care-free person. I rarely worry about things.  Thank goodness I got to go to London for the weekend to watch a concert, which allowed me to get my mind off of exams and just to relax.

Results day - woke up at 8am...pretty much tossed around in bed for the next 4 hours as results aren't released until 2pm. Worst bit is that I have to go to the medical school to go see my results as for no reason the school does not post them online.

"Results are ain't pretty." - the text message I received from my friend at 2:10pm. When I read the message, I felt my heart drop. As I got closer to the medical school, I could feel my heart racing. I then saw classmates standing outside the school. Some crying. Some cheering. Some looked in shock. I really didn't know what to expect. The short walk from the entrance to the notice board where our results are posted was probably the longest walk ever. Next comes the difficult bit. Finding your student number in a list of 280 other numbers. "Should I check the fail list first? Or just try to find my number in the pass list?" My gut went with looking through the pass list first. Thank goodness our numbers are in numerical order this year. Page after page....I finally found my number. I passed my exam! Then curiosity won me over and I took a look at the fail list. I was in shock. The phase director had failed 20% of the year (50+ students). Wow. She actually kept her word about it. I was disgusted by the number of students she had decided to fail. Ridiculous. As time passed, more of my friends came in to check their results as word had spread about results being out. One by one I saw students come through. Saw a couple people crying as they had failed their exams. Thinking about it - we were all top of the class students. probably something we have never really experienced before, so for those who failed their medical exams it probably came as a shock. By the way - usually only 10-15 people fail their exams. In our last two years, my year had set the highest passing rate. The academic department was proud of our year. In 6 months, we went from the highest passing rate, to the highest failing rate. Obviously there is something wrong with the exam and not us.

Unfortunately a few of my close friends had failed their exams. I know a few people getting kicked out from the course from failing more than 3 times in the course. A couple of people had failed and had such a bad experience from these last 6 months, will be quitting medicine. It's really a shame that one phase director can put so many people off from medicine and possibly even change the future of so many students.  Lots of students had lost a lot of confidence because of these exams. These exams disgust me especially knowing the school had screwed up badly with these exams. Pass mark for our exams are usually at around 47-50%. This year our pass mark was around 40%. OBVIOUSLY something wrong with the exam if your pass mark is that low. I surely hope the school does something to resolve this as I think this is unacceptable. Yes I am angry at the school. Yes I am annoyed. Yes I know I passed, but knowing the pass mark was that low - I feel like I didn't pass my exam as it was not a fair exam and not a fair way to examine the knowledge I had gained in the last 6 months.

What I had experienced from these exams, I am a bit hesitant on even recommending the school to prospective students. It's really a shame how poorly this has been handled. Hopefully the school will regain my confidence in them in the new year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Brain Torture.

As some of you know, I had exams about a week ago. Had 2 written papers and 1 practical (OSCE). It could easily be the hardest exam I have ever endured. I was mentally drained after each exam - I had never struggled so much in an exam. Our year had our exams re-written to a new format so we were going into the exam blind as we were told 3 days before our exam that the specimen papers that were put online are not representative of what we will be examined on. Instilling so much confidence into us (sarcasm). So pretty much we were all pooping ourselves prior to exams as we have no idea what to expect. We didn't even know what to study or how to study for this exam so the general consensus was "We are so screwed." It didn't help that we were told that the previous year 1 in 5 students had failed (20%). The scare tactics had been brutal and was pretty much messing with our confidence (quite unprofessional of the director to be honest). We were also told that the director was going to fail 20% of the year again so everyone was extremely scared. Horrible way to go into an exam.

Anyways the first paper I had was multiple choice and I swear once I finished the exam it felt like someone had continuously kicked my brain. I couldn't even think straight afterwards. The exam was 1.5 hours and the exam we took was definitely for a 2 hour time limit. I had BARELY just finished the exam. I was on my last question with only 10 minutes to spare. Didn't even get time to check. Mind you I'm not a slow exam taker...for the last 2 years I have finished my multiple choice papers in 30 minutes and the last two years my exam had 90 question and a 2 hour time limit. This year we had 60 questions with a 1.5 hour time limit. Each question was a massive paragraph to read. It was really frustrating as it takes just a minute to read the question. You seriously start to wonder if anyone had checked the exam paper and tried doing it to make sure it is possible to finish the paper in 1.5 hours. I had several friends who couldn't even finish this paper. Most people only did about 40ish questions out of 60. What a way to start the exam week.

Next day was the OSCE practical exam. 12 stations. 6 patient histories. 6 physical examinations. I was fairly confident going into this as I feel that I'm strong at doing practicals. Anyways the exam was 2 hours and it was so hectic and a lot more difficult than I had expected it to be. Should've known if I had based it on the previous day's exam. The instructions that were given in each station were long and very confusing. It would be like "Please do _____ examination on the patient BUT do not do _____, ______, _____, and _______; BUT remember to assess _______." Mind you the time you take to read the instructions is part of the time you're supposed to perform the physical examination so the longer you take to read, the less time you have to do the physical examination. You're already nervous and anxious, so when seeing such unclear instructions your brain gets all jumbled up. Personally I thought I did okay in the OSCE. Did however watch one examiner fail me in a patient history station for no reason. Everyone else in my circuit was complaining about the same examiner as he was giving everyone just half marks and was being very stingy/strict. Quit frustrating.

Final day was modified essay question paper. Obviously every one was petrified of this exam as based on how the last 2 days went - this exam will be ridiculously hard. Also because a lot of people couldn't finish the first paper, a lot of people were relying on this final paper to pull their mark up. This year we have to pass our written papers overall and pass the OSCE individually. For the first time in 2.5 years, people were studying prior to the exam. Usually we would all be standing around and being really relaxed. The air was so tense, it was ridiculous. My heart was thumping and I saw people being sick right before the exam. The nerves were through the roof. Got to the exam...and We were asked really rare conditions which were probably mentioned in 1 slide of a random lecture. Again more people got up to be sick in the toilet. One girl passed out in the final 10 minutes of the exam. Some people threw the paper on the floor and just left in disgust. What an exam.

"Time is up. Can everyone please stop writing and close their papers."

I have never heard such a quiet exam hall after the exam. No one was celebrating as it was our last exam. No one was cheering. Every one looked shocked/disappointed/upset. People left the exam building in record time. The mood was quite solemn. No one was in the mood to do anything. Had lunch with friends and most of my friends had lost their appetite. To be honest, when I finished that last exam, it was the very first time I said to myself: "I am going to fail." I was already thinking how I was going to tell my parents. I was so convinced I had failed it was eating me up inside.

Medicine is not easy. Again confirming my belief you have to be mentally strong to study Medicine. It is mentally and physically grueling. You have to be determined. There will be several up and downs as I have faced in this new phase. Probably the worst 6 months of medical school I have ever endured. It was like going through Medicine Boot Camp. Medics certainly do have a crazy life. It is never a straight line. Never take it for granted you're in medicine - anything can happen.