Leya is about to start her second year of Medicine at the University of Leicester. Discover what to expect in your first year at Leicester Medical School and get her tips on how to tackle the challenges you may face.
At the University of Leicester, we have a group work session almost every weekday. In these group work sessions, you’ll be grouped with about eight students and go through a set of questions that are related to a topic you will have recently studied.
For each of these group work sessions, there is usually around two hours’ worth of lectures that need to be viewed first. These are traditionally taught live, but due to the pandemic, they may be pre-recorded for you to watch in your own time before the group work session. If you plan out your time well, this is very manageable.
The Medical Students at the University of Leicester are given iPads as part of the course so that you can download the workbooks for each unit onto these iPads. The workbooks contain information related to the lectures, along with the questions for group work sessions.
I used these workbook entries as pre-reading for each session. I also did any recommended reading and any self-test material that was made available after the sessions. To ensure I was revising throughout the semester, I studied using flashcards daily. I found that this was overwhelming sometimes, but I performed in the top decile using these methods.
When I first started, I found that the content of the course was not much more difficult than the A-level science curriculum. Our first few sessions were closely related to the material studied in A-level Biology, which eased us into the curriculum.
There were also optional sessions on chemistry during the summer before we started, which covered content that may be helpful to know during the first year. This is recommended for students who have not undertaken A-level Chemistry.
For anyone worried about transitioning into the Medical School curriculum, I would advise focusing on creating an understanding of general concepts in each topic before trying to tackle the finer details.
In your first semester, you can expect to have to adjust your revision methods. That’s because the revision methods that are most used such as highlighting and rereading notes are among the least effective.
Alternatives to this are active recall methods, such as flashcards and practice questions, repeated across specific time intervals. The University of Leicester has formative exams, which are similar to mock exams, which usually take place a few weeks into the semester. This allows students to recognise and adjust their learning and revision strategies.
You can expect your motivation to falter from time to time, and this is completely normal. I would recommend keeping a copy of your Personal Statement around your workspace to combat this. Your personal statement is tailored to demonstrate to an admissions team that you are the right person to study Medicine, and to show your determination and passion for the profession. It can be beneficial to remind yourself of these points when you feel demotivated!
In terms of how exams are structured in your first year at Leicester Medical School, the first semester takes place from the start of the academic year up until the Christmas break. When you come back from the Christmas break, you do the first set of exams called the End-of-semester assessment 1 (ESA1).
Semester two occurs from these exams up until Easter break. When you return from Easter break, you do the second set of exams called the End-of-semester assessment 2 (ESA2). If you don’t score a weighted average that is high enough in these two exams, there are resit exams that take place in August.
The main types of exam questions at Leicester Medical School are SBAs (Single Best Answer) and SAQs (Short Answer Questions). SBAs are like multiple choice questions, except more than one answers can be correct but there is always one option that is preferred over the others. SAQs are open-ended questions that usually require an answer that can range from one word to a few lines. The HippoCampus Podcast is a podcast show hosted by students and staff from Leicester Medical School, and they have several episodes where they discuss tackling these different types of exam questions.
It’s a good idea to revise continuously throughout the semester to take some pressure off yourself during the holidays.
Whether you already live in Leicester or are new to the area, you can settle in by getting involved in societies and groups early on. You can usually join group chats on social media platforms for the course and societies that you will be joining. Here, you can learn about any events, where you can meet and get to know your fellow new students.
If you are new to Leicester, carve some time out to explore the city and visit some of the popular attractions such as the National Space Centre, Bradgate Park, and the Highcross shopping centre.
There are many societies that you can join at the University of Leicester. Most relevant is the Leicester University Medical School Association (LUSUMA), which is joined by most Medical Students at Leicester. They host social occasions, charity events, sporting competitions and academic supportive, peer-led experiences. They also provide academic resources that you can access as a member. LUSUMA is made up of many sub-societies that you can choose to join, such as CardioSoc, which is the University of Leicester’s cardiology society.
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