I remember when I realised my part one exam was in view and I wanted to get all the scoop on it as soon as possible so I did what any millennial would do; googled it. It was sad to find that there was nothing on the internet about how Nigerian medical students passed Nigerian medical school exams and I remember thinking ‘when I pass, I’ll fix that’. Well thank God I passed, and I can do what I said I would do. I’ll do this backwards; what that means is my least important point will come first and then all the way to my most important, something like a countdown.
The first thing you want to do when you see your exam date is freak out.
I know, I’ve been there. We were told the date of our exam 3 weeks to the day. Haha. I can laugh about it now but back then it was not funny at all. I called my mom, then my dad and unfortunately for me they were both at church so I couldn’t reach them for the next two hours, by then I had calmed myself and brainwashed myself into thinking I could handle whatever came my way. My best friend helped with the brainwash too (thanks J). Do the same, breathe, breathe again, relax.
Let me tell you my story. When it was about 3 weeks to my exams (bear in mind that we kept having classes till the weekend of the actual exam) I kept hearing rumours of people pulling all-nighters or sleeping only 2 hours or 3, people reading like mad, like maddddt you know how we Nigerians do now and I kept thinking Omooba you don’t know anything o, you better start pushing yourself. So I started pulling all-nighters too and even barely sleeping when I was sleeping. I did that for like 3 days and I broke down completely. Lol. I legit became depressed at that point too, cause like why can’t you be strong Omooba? I was foolish, I must admit. Now that I think about it I’m very happy I fell ill when I did, when the exam was still relatively far so I knew early that not sleeping was a total no-no for me.
There are several studies on how sleep enhances your brain power and helps you to do more in less time. Look, I slept very well during my exam, averaging 6 hours most times and I read very well too. You can make it work, just make up your mind that sleeping is not something that’s negotiable. There’s this myth that all the best work is done in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is asleep. Tah. Stop the foolishness. If habits like not sleeping don’t mar you now, they will in the future.
3. Read your notes.
Textbooks are amazing, but when your exams are close, just focus on what your lecturers give you. They know what you need, they’ve probably summarized the texts in a concise manner that suits them and will definitely suit you too. What people don’t know is that a lecturer’s note is actual the lecturer’s making scheme.
Medicine is wide, too wide. There is enough information for you to die trying to consume so it’s your job to have a basic and not so in-depth knowledge of everything and then build on those things the higher you go. If you are out to impress, you won’t like this advice and I know different stroke for different folks so it might not seat well with some of you and that’s fine. In my experience though, this is the fastest and easiest way to get ahead and be an all-round student instead of being really good at some things and being no good at other things. If you don’t have notes, borrow someone’s note and go photocopy, no need to be “priding”.
2. Past papers.
They save you the stress of focusing on irrelevancies, as you go higher in medicine you will realise they’re things you don’t necessarily need to know. I know the nerd in you wants to know everything but face it, you can’t, and you won’t. Get past papers and practice. Have an idea of how the exam is going to play out, if possible get together with a couple of friends and have a mock. I and my friends did that. I think we had 2 or 3. Our scores were way below poor. Those scores don’t matter now, do they? So don’t be afraid to put yourself on the hot seat. Familiarize yourself with the system.
1. Trust God.
This is everything, guys seriously. The things that happened to me during my exam, some of them were downright ridiculous. God was just on my side. Let me share two testimonies that can encourage you too to trust God. 1) I didn’t have past questions weeks to my exam because I didn’t mingle with seniors and my classmates were hoarding them. I was worried about it because when I asked someone who had just finished his own MB part one at UNIBEN, he told me “just read your notes and solve past questions”. I don’t even remember if I actually prayed about it, but around that time someone approached me that she wanted to stay with me during the exam period. I said fine.
One day, we were just talking and she just mentioned that she had a bako bag full of questions. That’s like 10 suitcases filled with past papers. I couldn’t even come to terms with my luck. Like in what world does what you are looking for come find you. God is good like that. That was my first breakthrough. 2) a lot of people know this story but I’ll share it for those that don’t know. Right in the middle of my anatomy mcqs I didn’t know more than half of the questions. And you know mcqs are negatively marked. I couldn’t just be guessing and putting whatever I liked there, especially since those I didn’t know outweighed those that I knew. You know what I did? I started praying in spirit, because somehow I remembered that God’s spirit knows all things so he should know anatomy too. What I did was speak in tongues for about 3 seconds and I would interpret the answer in English, either true of false. That’s what I did for all the questions I didn’t know. Now, you might not really get it if you are not a medical student but I was taking a huge risk! Although it wasn’t really a risk because I believed God, I basically put all my eggs in one basket; God’s basket.
The part that shocked me the most about this whole experience was that I had my highest grade in anatomy, close to a distinction. It’s ridiculous. I can almost say I don’t know anything in anatomy. Till today I don’t know the origins and insertions of most muscles. Jesus did it! This is a practical evidence of that verse that says God’s strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. Your testimonies and breakthroughs might not play out like mine did, just be rest assured that God is faithful and trust Him. I assure you he will come through for you as well.
I hope I have provided some help. I’d love to answer specific questions if you have some, leave a comment or contact me privately.