Examiner musings on candidacy Pt I

Extracts from a messaging app conversation between some examiners…

How much time did you spend studying? I started a year before, but spent the first three months falling asleep at night trying to read Guyton’s chapter on cellular physiology. After this, I gave up and read West instead…

A couple of things I did which were effective. A few months out I decided to do 6 hours effective study per day on the weekend, and then go out. I made 24 checkboxes, and ticked each one off after I did 15mins of effective study. It is a lot easier to keep yourself focused for 15mins than 6 hours…

The other really useful thing was compiling a list of every viva opening question. I ranked them in order of frequency, and wrote a card on each one—the answer to the opening question, and what I thought the followup would be…  (The opening questions aren’t published anymore but there is a large bank of them to be found on older exam reports. WW.)

I think once you have read things once, re-reading isn’t very effective. You need to do something else to ensure you retain and understand the knowledge…

having to teach others is a good technique…

In my first run through the material, I was draconian about what I learned. If I came across something that I decided wasn’t core material, I discarded it. The stuff that was left, I made sure I knew backwards. Then on my second run through, I attached a bit more depth to the “core”. It worked for me, and was actually the first time I’ve studied this way. But I’d never recommend it to anyone else. It just might not work for everyone, and if you misjudge what is “core” you could come very badly unstuck…

The thing that made the biggest difference for me was working with anaesthetists who understood the material, and made it come to life in the operating theatre by using basic sciences to inform their decision making. This not only made the information ‘stick’ it also motivated me to study!

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