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HowtoGetA Distinction
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TomaszForfa

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HowToGetADistinctionAverageInMedicineWithoutAllTheFuss!

Contents
The Critical Starting Block..............................................3
The Only Stupid Question Is The One You Didnt Ask4
The Secret Formula..........................................................4
Your Unfair Advantage....................................................5
Remember The Key Words.............................................5
Having The Exam Answers Before The Exam...............5
Having The Exam Questions Before The Exam,
Without Cheating.............................................................6
Test Your Knowledge Muscle..........................................7
How To Revise Properly...................................................7
Preparing To Face The Exam..........................................9
What Exactly Is An Exam?..............................................9
Practice Makes Perfect, Right?.....................................10
How To Answer An Exam Paper..................................10
Motivation That Runs Through Walls..........................11

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HowToGetADistinctionAverageInMedicineWithoutAllTheFuss!

I have developed a set of guidelines from my own personal experience and from what
Ive observed at university, to motivate and help others, whether young or old, to obtain
excellent Medicine exam results.
You can be a battling student who just scrapped in, or a seasoned veteran whos got a few
distinctions under their belt already; these gems of wisdom would undoubtedly help you
to obtain high grades in whatever medical exam you face. Some of them may seem
familiar, but hang in there because these techniques have significantly changed the way I
study, plus my results.
The Critical Starting Block
Before you commence studying, make sure you formulate a routine thats systematically
structured, so that you get the maximum out of the time you spend studying.
First, obtain a copy of the syllabus and read it carefully, so that you know what areas you
have to cover. Familiarize yourself with the format of the examination, i.e. whether long
or short answers, multiple choice or essay type answers, and so on.
It is also advisable to obtain past exam papers, dating back as far as possible. It is vitally
important to plan your study in an orderly manner, without being haphazard, so that you
can easily recollect what you studied without being confused during the examination.
The purpose of an exam is to tests your knowledge about a particular subject. Therefore,
whether its anatomy or clinical skills, you should be able to reproduce what you learnt in
relation to the questions asked. In other words, your answers should be precise and reflect
a comprehensive grasp of the subject. To facilitate easy recollection, you must study
accordingly to a structure and plan. You will then find that recalling information is much
easier.
When you attend lectures, make sure that you re-write all the lecture notes as soon as
possible, without postponing; because it is at this stage that everything said at the lecture
is clear and fresh in your memory. Its best if you divide the notes under separate
headings and sub-headings of your own, so that its easy for you to read and understand.
If there is a conflict between the lecture notes and the contents of the textbook, you
should concentrate only on a single source to avoid confusion. Its better to follow the
lecture notes, because generally, the lecturer would give different perspectives and
additional information about a subject, which is not present in the text.
Therefore, its very important to first formulate and structure a plan of study. Then, you
only need to fill in the rest of the body with all the required information about the
particular subject gathered from multiple sources, such as lectures, extensive reading,
research, etc. Establish the basic framework before you start studying.
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The Only Stupid Question Is The One You Didnt Ask


During lectures, dont hesitate to ask questions if you dont understand something,
because thats the best way to learn. Also make a point to answer the questions put to the
students by the teacher or lecturer, if you think you know the correct answer.
Remember, all of you are attending lectures as students, wanting to learn and pass exams.
Therefore, you are in an environment of understanding and tolerance and will not be
punished for giving a wrong answer.
When you interact with the lecturer in this manner, the entire lesson becomes an active
exercise of thinking and learning. Asking or answering a question might reveal your lack
of knowledge or understanding of a particular topic.
Dont wait until you fail an exam to learn from your mistakes. At some medical
universities, it might be too late. If your final exams are worth 90% of your grade, failure
is NOT an option. Ask questions, make mistakes, and eventually you will realise that
making mistakes is part of the learning process.
Knowledge gained by being an active participant is far more effective than being a
passive student, merely sitting and writing down reams of notes. When you go home,
most of what you learnt would retain in your mind instead of on paper.
The Secret Formula
An unfailing technique to remember what you study is the question and answer method.
This means, instead of underlining and highlighting texts and trying to find answers to
questions, you change the sequence.
In other words, I converted the notes in my textbooks, into questions. I started off by
adding the prefix how, what, when, where, who, etc. to the text I was studying
and end result was, that I could remember what I studied much better. The most
important question in Medicine is why. Ask this enough and you will understand more
than most students around you.
What you need to do is, train yourself to pose questions and look for the answers in the
text which you are studying. Cultivate a questioning mindset when you are covering your
study material. You should make it a point to practice by answering questions under
examination conditions, in order to improve your mental agility.
Thus, when facing an exam, you will recall the answers quickly and easily, since you are
familiar with the questions and your mind will respond actively by finding the
appropriate solutions. You should also time your answers, similar to whats expected
during an examination.

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Your Unfair Advantage


You could formulate a list of model questions, gathered from various sources, such as
past exam papers; from lecture notes; while reading tutorials and text books. The model
questions should be similar in style and format to the questions found in the exam paper.
It is a good idea to start creating your list of model questions right after a topic has been
covered at a lecture. You can even do this while the lecture is in progress; this will keep
you interested in the lecture as well as making you an active participant in the learning
process.
Also take note of the questions asked by other students. The questions they ask will show
that they are having difficulty in comprehending a particular subject or area of the text,
which needs clarification. If they are having some problem with the text, chances are, so
will you. So pay attention and add their questions as well to your model question list.
You must ensure that the model questions cover all aspects of the topic which you are
studying, so that all the information found in the text is included. In other words, you
should be confident that you have incorporated all possible perspective relating to the
particular subject, in your list of model questions.
Remember The Key Words
If you scrutinise past question papers, you will notice that certain words are frequently
used in the formulation of the questions. It is important that you understand the difference
between each expression, so that your answer is in keeping with whats required by the
question.
Some of the common frequently used key words are: Outline; Relate; Evaluate; Explain;
Compare; Contrast; Define; Describe, Illustrate; Interpret; Justify, and so on.
As an example, if the question wants you to Compare, it means you should highlight
similarities and difference relating to the subject. If, on the other hand, you are asked to
Contrast, you have to differentiate one from the other. To Define means to explain
the exact meaning and describe the general qualities, while Describe is to give a
detailed description, so that a clear picture emerges.
You must locate as many key words as possible, become familiar with them, and
incorporate these as much as possible in your model questions. When you come across a
key word in a question, refer a dictionary to find the exact meaning. This will help you to
formulate the appropriate answer.
Having The Exam Answers Before The Exam
As much as it is important to formulate the model questions in an appropriate manner, its
vitally important to ensure that your model answers are precise, to the point and
comprehensive. Do not make any mistakes in the model answers, because these answers
are your guide and what you will reproduce at the exam.
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When you write an answer to a model question, include everything you know about the
subject, for instance, what you gathered from the texts, reference material, journals,
tutorials and any other sources. This will show the examiner that you are well informed
with a comprehensive knowledge about the subject; not merely confined to the textbooks,
but with a wide scope. However, you should ensure that the answer is relevant to the
question, without any padding or unnecessary information.
First, you should analyse the question, especially taking into consideration the key words,
which I explained earlier. If it is from a past question paper, you could re-write the
question in your own words, so that it would be easier for you to understand its context.
You can even do this during the exam proper. Also, refer the dictionary to find the exact
meaning of the key words used in the question.
Next, write down a rough overall draft, may be in point form or whatever method you are
familiar with, covering the main points in your answer. You could separate the facts
under different headings or as group of ideas and then, arrange them in a logical fashion.
If while searching for the answer you encounter any problem, its best to seek advice and
guidance from your tutors or fellow students. The important point is, your answer much
be accurate and relevant to the question.
As mentioned earlier, you should time your model answer, so that you are able to
complete it within the allocated time. The timing should be similar to whats expected
during the exam. Therefore, the length of your answer would depend on how much time
is allocated to it. The best way to master this is to practice over and over again, answering
questions within a fixed time frame.
Having The Exam Questions Before The Exam, Without Cheating
In order to effectively answer questions, you should study how the questions are put
together by the examiner. Since exams are meant to test your knowledge about a
particular subject, learn to think like the examiner. Then, you will be able to fathom as to
what type of answer is expected by the student.
Converting a statement or fact to a question, enables you to think actively. Once you
master this skill, it will condition you to respond to questions automatically. For instance,
when you encounter a familiar question at the examination, it would trigger the
appropriate answer in your mind with no effort on your part.
Therefore, its very important that you prepare yourself thoroughly to expect all manner
of questions, posed in different ways. And the answers you should be to the point,
focused, relevant and well organised. To come to this standard you should practice, as
much as possible, in formulating questions and accurately answering each and every one
of them.
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Test Your Knowledge Muscle


In order to find out for yourself how you are progressing with your studies, you should
develop a mechanism whereby you learn from your mistakes. To do this, choose a model
question for which you have already found a model answer. Answer the question without
referring to the answer that you have, in a typical examination setting. The result will
reveal to you what information you have retained, what you have missed and what
mistakes you made.
Write down in red or any other color, all the mistakes you made and the facts you omitted
and make it a point to pay special attention to these when you revise, so that they are
committed to memory.
Through this trial run you will be able to identify and pay attention to what you have
forgotten; what you have not understood and what areas you need to further study and
memorise. You will also learn to interpret the question appropriately, organise what you
studied in a methodical manner and also answer the question within a certain time limit.
When the time comes for you to sit the exam, and if you come across a similar question
like the one you did during the trial run, you will recall what mistakes you made earlier.
Since you are now prepared with the correct response, you will not make the same
mistakes again.
I would like to recommend that you do as many mock exams as possible during the
revision period. Make it a habit to do a mock exam, say, whenever you complete a
chapter, or a particular portion of the study material, or every week end. Its important
that you answer all the model questions in relation to the syllabus, at least once before the
final date of the examination.
This exercise of doing mock exams will no doubt boost your confidence, because you
know you have the ability to perform under examination conditions, and also that you
have a sound grasp of the study material covered in the syllabus.
Ultimately, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have actually absorbed the
study material comprehensively, and that spending so much time in studying, was not in
vain. Once you see the results of your mock exams, it will help boost your confidence
and give you the necessary encouragement and motivation to proceed with your studies.
How To Revise Properly
Its advisable not to start revision too early into your studies or keep it to the last moment.
I would recommend that you commence revising about 5-6 weeks before the exam,
although there are no hard and fast rules. It will ultimately depend on your workload and
planning. Remember that revision is meant not to re-learn, but to refresh your memory
about what your have already studied over the past year.

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It would help if you revise according to a timetable. Since you have already practiced
answering mock questions under examination conditions, you will be able to calculate
how much time you need to answer a specific question. Based on this, you can plan to
perform mock exams at least every day, and may be increase the number to two or three a
day, leading up to the exam.
If for some reason you are unable to cover all the model questions during revision, you
could select the ones that are the most difficult and do them first. The easier questions,
you can either read through several times or write only an outline, highlighting the
important facts.
The purpose of revision is basically to refresh your memory and go through your past
mistakes as well as the corrections you have made, so that you will not make the same
mistakes again. When you come to the revision stage, you should be able to comprehend
all the study material and be convinced that you know it thoroughly.
If you study according to a well organised structure and plan, then there will be no
difficulty in remembering what you studied, when you revise. While you are in the
process of studying, you should make a conscious effort to re-visit what you studied
earlier, ensure that you grasped everything clearly and then integrate it to the rest of the
study material.
Remember, the manner in which the study material is stored in your memory, determines
the form in which it will be recalled. If you filed away facts in a disorganised and careless
fashion, then you will find it difficult to retrieve information during the exam.
There are instances where at an exam, some students realise they know the answer
because the question is familiar, but they are unable to retrieve the information. This is
usually due to studying haphazardly. They have not organised their learning material
appropriately, and having memorized isolated facts, fail to link up the facts to complete
the answer.
When you adhere to a plan and follow a timetable, you will also succeed in completing
your learning process well before the exam, giving you ample time to devote for revision.
This in turn would ensure that you do not have to cram as the exam date is nearing.
Cramming the night before, perhaps in the short term, help you to remember certain facts
during the exam; but you will not retain whatever you learn too quickly, in the long term.
This will be disadvantageous to you later on, because what you study now will lay the
foundation for your future education, which determines your career path.
However, what you should do the night before the exam, is to go through everything you
have studies in a relaxed state of mind, to assure yourself that you are up-to-date with
your knowledge. You only need to devote one or two hours for this purpose, if you have
followed a well planned study program.
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Preparing To Face The Exam


When you face an examination, you should be relaxed, clam and in a confident state of
mind if you are to succeed in answering the questions properly. There are some students
who work themselves into a state of anxiety before an exam, mainly due to lack of
confidence.
Fear, nervousness and stress are some of the common feelings associated with most
students when it comes to sitting for exams. There are instances of students even
becoming physically sick before exams, which of course is a direct result of the negative
perception they have of whats in store for them.
If you analyse why this is so, one major reason is lack of confidence. This is specially so
with students who have not prepared adequately to face the examination. Some wonder
how they could recollect all the information they have crammed over the past year.
Others fear that their mind will go blank due to nervousness, and therefore they would
fail the exam.
It is actually the fear of the unknown which produces anxiety, stress and fear.
The secret to getting over this state of mind is to be adequately prepared before the
examination, by working hard at studying conscientiously, according to a plan. It is
always easier to remember rules and principles when facts are linked together, rather than
studying them as isolated facts.
Therefore, the mental conditioning and discipline acquired by studying methodically will
help you to overcome any negative feelings. When you know that you have knowledge
at your fingertips, since you have tested yourself over and over again under examination
conditions, and have covered the entire syllabus, it automatically builds up your
confidence.
Knowledge gives you power, by eliminating the unknown factor from the equation.
You will naturally gain inner confidence, if you know that there are no questions that
could be asked, for which you dont know the answer.
Since you have followed a well structured, systematic program and tested yourself right
throughout your period of study, there is no fear or nervousness to contend with. You
therefore, will walk into the examination room clear-headed, brimming with confidence.
What Exactly Is An Exam?
The best way to test a persons knowledge is of course through an examination. However,
you may have all the knowledge, but fail to reproduce what you learnt as required by the
examiner. May be you misunderstood the question; or you concentrated too much on
some irreverent facts; or had not time to complete the assignment because you
overlooked to time your answers.
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What is required at an examination is to reproduce what you learnt, relevant to the


question asked, within a given time limit. Your performance should reflect not only your
knowledge about a particular subject, but also your exam skills.
An exam tests a variety of skills, such as your ability to comprehend and remember large
amounts of information, and most importantly, the ability to reproduce this information
within a certain period of time. In order to do so, you have to develop your mental fitness
as well as your mental reflexes, such as the question-answer reflex, through practice.
The latter is one of the best methods to remember what you study.
Exams could be considered as tests on how well you've practiced doing exams.
Practice Makes Perfect, Right?
The only way you become good at anything is through practice. Conditioning your mind
to face exams is also achieved by regular practice. If you want to excel in a sport, for
instance, like swimming or tennis, you need to dedicate many hours practicing the sport.
There are no shortcuts.
Similarly, once the skills required to succeed in your studies are identified, you should
practice regularly, until your master them.
When you attempt model questions and answers, what you are doing is practicing your
skills at answering questions. At the same time, through the question-answer method of
study, you develop your mental reflexes, thus enhancing your ability to perform under
examination conditions.
Once you build up your mental strength, fear, anxiety and uncertainty is replaced by
confidence in your abilities.
Another important skill to master is timing. Practice answering questions within a
specific time frame. For a long, essay type answers may be you could allocate 40-45
minutes, for short answers, less time, and so on. By doing so, you will also find out how
much you can write within a given period. This will no doubt help you in allocating time
for each question during the actual exam.
How To Answer An Exam Paper
When you are confronted with the question paper at the examination, dont start to write
whatever that comes to your mind at once. First, carefully read all the instructions given
at the top of the page, such as, how many questions should be answered; whether
multiple or essay type answers are required; if a choice is given, read through to
determine which questions you are most comfortable with.
Pay attention to the marks given to each question and the allocated time. If all questions
are given an equal number of marks, divide the time available equally between the
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questions youve selected. If not, work on questions with more marks, if you know the
answer.
Make sure you read the question carefully, paying special attention to the key words, so
that you interpret the question correctly. Dont spend too much time on the first question
alone, which is quite common among most students.
Then, plan your answer in a structured manner, organising and jotting down the
information relevant to the question. In the middle of writing an answer if you remember
some fact, jot it down separately, so that you can include it later in the appropriate
context. First do a skeleton and then fill in the body of the answer.
Remember to first clearly define and understand the question, then form the basic
structure, and finally fill in the body of the answer in a clear and concise manner. Include
only material thats relevant to the topic and avoid padding to expand the answer, as this
will certainly not get you more marks.
If you did a thorough job of formulating your model questions and answers in an
organised manner, you will able to easily recall the major heading and sub heading under
which you studied, while avoiding any irrelevant material.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. Even if your handwriting is not firstclass, your answer should be legible, since a neat and clear presentation would no doubt
appeal to the examiner.
Remember, you dont have to reproduce word-to-word the model answer you did while
studying. Use your own words; the importing thing is to convince the examiner that you
understand the topic and knows the correct answer.
Before you hand over the test paper, quickly go through everything you have written.
This will give you an opportunity to detect any mistakes and make the necessary
corrections.
If by chance you either ran out of time or missed out on a compulsory question, dont
despair. You could give an outline of what you were planning to write, if you had the
time. This would give an indication to the examiner about the level of knowledge you
posses, which could get you some extra marks.
Motivation That Runs Through Walls
In order to benefit from this guideline to become a good student and succeed in your
exams, there is one vital ingredient thats required Motivation. Remember, no one can
motivate you, expect yourself.

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HowToGetADistinctionAverageInMedicineWithoutAllTheFuss!

In this competitive world we live in, doing well in your studies is no guarantee that you
will find appropriate employment. Therefore, only those who obtain outstanding exam
results can have some hope of entering their chosen profession.
Lack of motivation makes you a drifter, going through life without direction; without
goals or a proper career. Therefore, you should look beyond exams, and focus on your
future. Thinking long-term is one way to motivate you to study and pass exams.
Set a goal - motivate yourself to not merely pass an exam, but to pass with straight
Distinctions. This would automatically trigger all the untapped abilities and resources
within you, to work hard at achieving your goal. However, motivation should be coupled
with efficient study techniques if you are to succeed.
Consider exams not as barriers to your future prospects, but as a challenge to face and
overcome. Dont give up if you fail once or twice. From the depth of depression you
could emerge with renewed motivation, to take the plunge and ultimately win.
So there you have it, my recipe for a distinction average at university. Its what I did and
if you follow every part, you will get it too. Now Id like to wish you good luck!
Please tell your friends about us if they want to sit the GAMSAT. We would love to help
them.
All the Best,

Tomasz Forfa
Tomasz Forfa and the PassGAMSAT Team

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