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What to study?

This is a hard thing to know. What should one study? The pursuit of knowledge itself is a laudable goal, but you have to get things done with your precious little time.

The only way to avoid procrastination is to begin

If you are having problems with procrastination then don’t make timetables, plan out either a study group with other people, or just get started. You don’t have to set aside any time, you don’t have to plan to do it for a set amount of time, just start. It’s all about momentum, you might feel like you are achieving something, and start to feel good. And don’t fall in the trap of just studying what you enjoy, a lot of people spurn the subjects which they don’t like and end up studying the ones the do… this results in 95 in one paper and 49 in another (seriously, this happens).

Busier people achieve more so make sure to stay busy! Do things like exercise to use up your spare time – this has been shown to boost your productivity, and in times of need this can be reduced to shorter sessions. Keep busy and moving from one thing that needs doing to another, and you can make a dent in that work that’s piling up.


Study to the objectives, but be sensible. There are some academics lecturing you, people who the sun would burn quicker than vampires if they were to ever actually leave their studies. These are not necessarily the teachers who will be writing the ideal objectives for you, but, hey, they are still a start. Look through the course notes that you have been provided, get used to what sort of stuff they are talking about. Most of the time the objectives offer a reasonable start on what it is that you should be learning.


Many exams have a few pictures in them, and if there are some pictures in the handout which have a few key labels that you would be able to blank out and ask students to fill in, then you should know what is in these pictures. Think about the important pictures, the ones that the lecturer showed more than once especially (thought, that’s no guarantee in health science!)

What are we studying?

You should start to try to think clinically, or professionally. It is hard to put yourself in the lecturer’s shoes, but they are often not trying to trick you, they just want you to answer the questions that they think are really relevant to their subjects. They are not going (read: supposed) to ask you really obscure questions about really irrelevant stuff, so if something in biochemistry has a function in the body which is important (e.g. red blood cells) and they have a very important reaction (like carrying oxygen) then you should know some of the basics of this. They tend to try and keep it as relevant as plausibly possible.

The courses like chemistry and physics are not really oriented to the clinical world, or professions, after all it’s hard to make a square peg fit a round hole, but they do like to think of themselves as ‘biological physics’ (sounds good on paper, right?) so should be trying to make things clinical if possible. If you see anything vaguely related to the world of medicine or pharmacy in these subjects, then do learn these, they are super likely to come up. It’s not the fault of these subjects, and the material is actually fascinating, but when you are in a highly competitive environment with not enough time to learn it, and the course which doesn’t slow down for anyone… well… just learn what you need to get through!

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