A balancing act between revising and socialising

One down side to resitting exams is that you have to revise when everyone else is out socialising in the summer sun. My friends are all meeting up in the evenings but I have to stay in and revise. It’s a fine line between dedicating enough time to revise and killing your social life with revision.

It makes me feel really down and left out when my friends all meet up without me, even though I know it’s my choice to revise instead of go out drinking. Missing out on too much can make you feel outcast socially and disharten you to the extent that your work suffers, so there is an argument for socialising and not shutting yourself away with a textbook. But too much socialising leaves little time for revision.

I’m not too sure which side of the line I’m on at the moment.

I’m taking a day off from revision to spend time with friends but I feel a little guilty for doing so. I know that I’ve been really productive recently and I know it actually helps productivity to have a break but I can’t help the doubt nagging in the back of my mind.

If anyone has found a way to overcome this do share.

Relationships and moving away to uni

Today is my 2nd year anniversary with my boyfriend whom I met during my time at sixth form. I want to explore for a moment the concept of relationships at university.

I started my relationship before starting uni so my relationship went from seeing each other everyday to long distance. My partner went to a different uni to me (about an hour away on the train) so we see each other every 2nd or 3rd week. It makes the times we do see each other more special but the time we are apart is hard. It is nice to have a bit of space sometimes but it did at times feel like too much space. The thing that kept it all together was the communication. We skype or call every night and lukily we still like the people each other have become since moving away.

Moving away to university is a chance to reinvent yourself and become the person you want to be and a lot of people take the opportunity. A lot of people also start relationships at university.

It’s not impossible to sustain a healthy relationship whilst at different universities. And equally its quite possible to start a new relationship at university. But just as equally it’s perfectly fine to be single, as a lot of students feel like they don’t want to be tied down by a relationship.

One thing I would say is: don’t let a relationship be the be all and end all of your time at university. Work needs to come first and you shouldn’t let a relationship influence your choice of university or course. University is about education and you – that’s really the only relationship you need.


Very few student will go through uni acing every exam. And many students will have to retake an exam at some point during their course. There can be any number of reasons why a student might need to retake an exam. To name a few: missing the pass mark, being unable to take the exam due to illness, sleeping through your alarm on the day.

Having to retake an exam is not the end of the world. It can feel awful when you don’t pass first time or you miss the exam, but rest assured a resit means another shot at it. Sometimes resits are capped in terms of the grade you can get but at the end of the day a pass is better than a fail. And in the context of medicine we don’t get graded in the same way as other students anyway – we get distinctions and merits instead of firsts and 2.1s.

So essentially if you have to resit try to view it as a second chance rather than a failure. You haven’t failed until you’ve failed at 2nd and maybe even 3rd attempt, depending on your course.

For some people, they may have the chance to resit at first attempt (usually if a request for mitigation has been accepted) meaning that the original attempt becomes void, is forgotten about and the resit is not capped. This is great news as it means your original exam was basically just a practice and everyone will view your resit the same as a first shot at the exam.

Second attempt differs a little. Usually second attempts are capped and do acknowledge your original exam as a fail. However they are viewed as a second chance to get a pass and if you do pass that is the grade you will carry forward. So its still worth putting in 110% effort.

Some univeristies and courses will also let you take an exam at 3rd attempt, which is like a reresit. But you’ll have to check with your specific school about that.

Leaving Uni for the Summer

Everyone says the best thing about uni is the summer holiday. Everyone also says medics don’t get as much holiday as everyone else, but in the first few years, that isn’t true. I get just as much holiday as my non-medic friends.

But whilst I am looking forward to the break from studying I am not looking forward to the break in independence. Moving back home with my parents means living life by their rules for the summer. Going to bed at a sensible time and eating dinner with everyone else.

I love my parents I really do, I just find that sometimes it can be a little oppressive when I’m back home after being on my own for so long. When I’m away at uni I can do whatever I want when I want. I can bake at 2 in the morning and sleep at 2 in the afternoon. At home, everything has a routine and it’s my parents routine.

I used to be scared of leaving home and living on my own. I didn’t want the responsibility of handling my own finances and cooking for myself, but now I have those responsibilities I don’t want to give them back. I guess I’ve grown up.

I like to be in control, and at uni, I feel in control of myself. At home less so.

Exam Results

So, I got the results back for my May exams today.

At the medical school I go to, we have three main exams:


These are multiple choice and assess content from the whole semester.


These are also multiple choice and assess content from the whole course. The idea is that you get better at them as you progress through the school.

  • OSCEs

These are a practical assessment of skills and anatomy knowledge, assessed over 10 stations, where each station has a different focus.

In my First year January exams we didn’t have to sit an OSCE but we did still have to sit a progress test and semester 1 test. I missed the pass mark on my semester 1 test but got honors on the progress test, meaning I have to re-sit my semester 1 exam in July.

In hindsight, it was probably because I didn’t really understand how to revise for the semester 1 exam, but more on that another time.

In my May exams, I got satisfactory in both my progress test and semester 2 test which means I don’t have to re-sit either of those; however, I got unsatisfactory in my OSCE by 1%, meaning that I will need to re-sit it.

Again, I’m going to put that down to inexperience and nerves. Hopefully, with more work, I can do better in July.

To everyone else taking exams and getting their results right now. Good luck and remember, that as long as you learn from it, every result is a good result.






I’m trying to gather the motivation to pack up all of my things to move back home for the summer now that my course has finished for the year. But all I’ve successfully done so far is find myself astounded at the pure number of textbooks I have collected over the year. Some are borrowed for the library but others I bought second hand or off the internet.

When you start medical school there are the basic textbooks you are told are practically essential to any medical student. But unlike for A-levels and GCSEs there is no ONE textbook. In actual fact, there are thousands of textbooks you could use and you are supposed to find which ones work for you and buy those.

The best place to start if you’re unsure is the library. Libraries at university are like a whole new world. They have hundreds of copies of the ‘essential books’ and several copies of the ‘inessential books’ so it’s perfect for a newbie, who doesn’t know their grays anatomy from their Moores, to have a good old peruse. Dedicate one of your freshers days to the library and you won’t regret it. Spend the time browsing and exploring all of the suggested books on your reading list and getting to grips with which books you like and those you’re indifferent about. Pick at least one from each category and you’re set.

You can either check those books straight out of the library or make a note of the titles and then buy them online. I recommend doing both. Check them out and you’ll have them for your first weeks but buy them so you have your own copy to make notes in and feel secure in the knowledge that the library can’t recall your only copy and leave you bookless. Of course, don’t be greedy and keep library books if you have brought your own and physically have two copies in your room. That’s not cool.

You can buy pretty much any textbooks you will need on amazon but you can also get them second hand from sites like Abe books and these might be cheaper. If the price is a consideration (and when isn’t it?) you might also want to think about maybe not getting the latest version, as many textbooks bring out new versions every few years but the content doesn’t change much. I tend to go for one or two versions before the latest as this brings the cost down significantly and means you are a lot more likely to find them second hand.

Before you buy textbooks also check your libraries online system as my library has online copies of many of the core books as well which means that I didn’t need to buy them as I can access them in a few clicks on my laptop from anywhere in the world with my uni login. Yours might do something similar so it’s definitely worth checking. Although at the end of the day I much prefer physical books to reading off my computer screen.

My university library also runs a textbook recycling scheme that’s worth a look in. Graduating students donate their old textbooks that they no longer need and current and new students can pick up a set amount for free. You don’t always find the core textbooks in schemes like these, but if you have a specialty you’re interested in it’s often a goldmine of specialty textbooks. Last year I picked up a couple of good ones on neuroscience and psychiatry.

I wish you all the best with the search for your own personal perfect textbooks and hope you find a quite and easy fit with the core books of your course. If you are really struggling with a book, there’s probably another out there with the same information but written differently, that might be better for you. So have a look. It must just make studying easier. Last year I struggled through half a semester with Snells Anatomy before I discovered that untypically, I actually preferred Grays.

Loneliness, Sympathy & Empathy

It’s the end of term and all of my flatmates have moved out for the summer. I’m still here.

It’s not that I finished later than everyone else – in actual truth, my course finished a week before all my friends’ – but rather I have a few things left here to sort out before I move back for the summer.

It’s so quiet. Ordinarily, I can hear everyone else walking around, banging doors, running the water in their bathrooms. But now I can’t hear anything. It’s too quiet.

Luckily I’m only here for another week. but it is making me wonder how anyone lives on their own and doesn’t feel innately lonely.

I used to think I was introverted, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s just the idea that: if I need someone, there’s no one there, that’s making me feel like this. I couldn’t tell you. But I do feel very consciously aware of how alone I am.

I’ve never been this alone before. Back home my parents never left me alone for more than a day and the second I moved out I moved into a hall full of students with all of their noise and personalities. Now it’s just me.

You hear people talk about older people getting lonely when their partner passes or they become to frail to leave their house. I don’t think I really appreciated how awful it must feel until now, and this is after a day on my own with the knowledge that in a week’s time my dad will come and get me and take me home. That can’t even begin to scratch the surface of what they must feel. I can never truly understand that pain because whilst I think in my head I’m going through something similar I know in reality that I’m not and I can’t possibly know what they must feel unless I’ve been through it.

But then we’re getting to the difference between sympathy and empathy.

I think we’ve already established that whilst I feel pretty down right now I can’t understand how an elderly person who’s partner has passed must feel. I can’t be sympathetic because I can’t have sympathy for them. There are no shared experiences or common feelings between us. What I can do however is acknowledge their pain. This is empathy.

“I understand how hard this is for you Anna.” is sympathy and in this case… a lie. I don’t understand how hard it is because I haven’t had to deal with that situation.

“I can see how hard this is for you Anna.” is empathy. Acknowledging the pain without claiming to understand or have telepathic powers.

Sympathy is something we have for our friends and loved ones when they are upset and something we grow up learning but empathy is a professional skill you learn when you find yourself feeling that way for people you don’t know and cannot by extension fully understand.