Coping with A-Levels and Applying for Medicine
There’s no denying that A-Levels are difficult – and so is applying for Medicine! You have to write a Medicine personal statement, do the UCAT and possibly also the BMAT, prepare for interviews and wait anxiously for offers. One of the hardest things for me was to cope with doing both while still staying sane (or as sane as it’s possible to be as a future medic!).
Here are my five top tips for coping with your workload:
1. Keep up with your work
As tempting as it is to procrastinate, try to finish your homework and coursework as quickly as you can (but obviously to the best of your ability, don’t rush!). Try to get as much done in your study/free periods as you can so that you have less to do when you get home. You’re going to have to do the work eventually, so you may as well get it done and out the way! This definitely helps to avoid work piling up and reduces your stress. You can also feel less guilty when you’re relaxing after finishing your work!
2. Make a revision plan, especially close to exams
Planning will help you feel more in control of what you need to get done and make you aware of how long you have before each deadline, so it’s really useful for time management. You can build in the work you aim to do each day and block out time you plan to spend relaxing with family and friends or going out. I still find this really useful and I note down all my important events and deadlines on a big wall calendar so I can visualise how busy my week is going to be.
3. Revise throughout the year rather than leaving it all to the end
Trust me on this one! If you revise the content as you go, you will feel like you know the material and are on top of your work. It also gives you more time to understand concepts that you’re unsure of and ask for help if you need it. And you’ll feel less stressed if you get a sudden interview invitation at the exact time you were planning to prepare for mocks. On that note, make sure you prepare properly for your mocks; they’re there to help you and test your knowledge so treat them like the real exam and don’t put off revising for them!
4. Don’t stress if other people are getting interviews and offers before you
I remember some of my friends (who were not applying for Medicine) had all their offers within a week of applying while the medics were waiting for a single interview! Even some of my friends who had applied to the same universities for Medicine received offers months apart. It can be disheartening, but remember that even the same university for the same course gives out its offers and interviews at different times. Just because you haven’t heard back, it doesn’t mean you’ve been rejected! All the waiting will be worth it when you get that offer (and remember, you only need one)!
5. Take some time out to relax
As harmless as it sounds, one of the most nerve-racking bits of applying to Medicine for me was actually checking my emails and UCAS Track every five minutes! Take some time away from this and from your A-Level stress by going out with friends, watching TV, exercising, or whatever you like to do to chill. It can be hard to find time to rest, especially when you feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing mountain of work that you need to do. But make sure you set aside some time to unwind and do what you enjoy.
Words: Maria Ahmad