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Student Careers

Succeeding in your medical school finals

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 08 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1139
  1. Matt Green, medical publishing director 1,
  2. Alexander Young, specialty trainee 1, trauma and orthopaedic surgery2,
  3. Will Dougal, foundation year 1 doctor, gastroenterology3
  1. 1A1 BPP University College School of Health, London, UK
  2. 2A2 Gloucester Royal Hospital, Gloucester, UK
  3. 3A3 Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, UK

How to prepare for and maximise your score

This article contains...

  • -Tips on how to plan your revision throughout the academic year

  • -Recommendations for valuable textbooks/online resources/revision courses

  • -Advice on how to optimise your performance closer to your finals

Medical finals are the last hurdle to overcome before you receive your degree and become a doctor. Finals can be a daunting time and revising everything covered in the preceding years may seem like an impossible task.

Although examination formats and times differ between universities, the overall standard of written and clinical examinations is the same for all medical schools. To pass your finals you will need to show your factual knowledge in written papers and apply your knowledge and communication skills in clinical scenarios.

People who do well in finals examinations are usually those who prepare well in advance and stay calm on the day.

Plan your revision

To cover all medical and surgical topics and hone examination and diagnostic skills, it is important that students plan their revision well in advance. Having reached the final year of medical school most students will already have a good idea of how long they will need to revise for an examination. For medical finals it is recommended that students spend around three months preparing for the exams.

Creating a revision timetable is a great way to break up the large medical and surgical syllabus that needs to be covered, and it allows you to set yourself goals such as topics to be done by a certain date. A timetable also takes the pressure off as exams approach and helps to minimise last minute nerves. It is important that you spread out your revision and maintain a healthy lifestyle, taking breaks and regular exercise during the revision period to avoid burning out too quickly.

Get a revision book

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