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The best way to learn is from your own mistakes but a better way to learn is from other peoples mistakes. We always hear success stories all over the world that gives us motivation and spirit to always work harder. What we don’t hear often is histories from people who have failed. As Winston Churchill once said those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Take some time to read and learn from the mistakes i made. So here are 12 reasons on why i failed my Professional Exams!

The first one is….

  1. Revising back the lectures was not my priority

This is one of the greatest mistakes that you should not do as a student. My mentor told me about the forgetting curve which is a data collected by a German psychologist named Hermann Ebingghaus. According to wikipedia, “The forgetting curve hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time.

This curve shows how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it.” Hence, you should revise back to always constantly remember what you are learning, because when you don’t you will feel like you haven’t learnt anything in the next couple of months. Trust me i know what will happen and you don’t want to be making the same mistakes i did.

Image from wikipedia

  1. I did not know my lecturers name!

This is the first mistake that everyone must not do. Students will always miss this part because you don’t think it’s important. Actually, this is a really important part, know the name of your lecturer! Respect them. You will able to learn better if you know the lecturer and when they know you.

  1. I had no clue about ‘generic knowledge”

You got to master all the generics knowledge to pass your professional exam! This is really important. They don’t usually ask about the uncommon disease for your professional exam. You have to know what is common in Malaysia and what you will find in clinical settings.

Obviously, the professional exam is the only exams separating you from clinical and pre-clinical. During my three weeks with Prof KJ, we did an intensive session on generic knowledge. So, you must know all about the generic knowledge.

  1. My notes were a mess!

Do your own notes for every lecture you go and write what’s important during lectures. Believe me, during study week you will see most of your successful friends will start to read their own notes. I have gone through 4 semesters and 1 professional exam and still can’t manage to read all the lecture notes during study week.

Don’t lie to yourself that you will be able to really read all the lectures in a short amount of time. Even if you can, you don’t know how much will actually retain in your memory. So, do notes early and glance back rapidly during study week then focus on the generic knowledge.

  1. I would do anything else besides learning

In USM, we have lots of free time and no assignment no work no lab reports. We don’t have a curfew and the front gate is open all the time. No, i am not against it, i really like it when they give us this ultimate freedom, but you have to make yourself study!

For me it’s kinda hard to open the lecture notes and start studying when you don’t feel any pressure, i will just relax and do something else because yeah nothing bad is gonna happen the next day.

I read a tweet by Dr Beni Rusaini on tips how to start studying, and he said try to answer one question, if you can’t it will trigger you to learn because yeah you feel like an idiot.

  1. Study week is when i really learn!

Probably you will hear these loads of time from your seniors and trust me i do to. But still we always wait for that “study week” to fire our gasoline. Maybe because it has become our trend since little and somehow, we always manage to score high and enter medical school.

Medical is different, don’t start to learn and understand the topics during study weeks, please and please at least understand the topics earlier and then memorize. You will be using a lot of brain capacity to remember lots of things, so start early.

  1. Lectures does not interest me. 

To be honest, I slept during the first lecture. It was not because i didn’t want to learn, actually i was really hyped about my first medical lecture, well who isn’t right? But i still can’t get my eyes to open.

It’s my first-time experience in all my life studying because i never slept in any of my class since little without the actual intention of sleeping. So, please just try and do something useful apart from sleeping.

  1. Meeting my lecturers was impossible

One of the ways i found to study smart while preparing for my supplementary exams was to always meet the lecturers. The exams you are going to take is a collection of question from all the lecturers that taught you in class.

Find a way to contact your lecturers and ask for what topic is important, what should i know from this lecture and what should i focus more on! One of my lecturers told me that the students who met her and did essay for her to check mostly will get full marks during the real exams! Learn smart, it will help you a lot!

  1. I did not form a study group earlier

I had always preferred to study alone because i can study at my own pace and I understand it clearly from going through books and the internet. I trust books more than my friends because you know when you have those certain kinds of friends that just confidently tells you everything without proof and it end up being wrong. Trust rate decrease to 30%.

However, study group is still a must especially if you can’t make yourself discipline enough to study. Form a study group so you can ask questions to each other, to make notes, to divide topics and learn from each other, to make learning fun! Find someone you are really comfortable with.

I think one of my weaknesses is that i question a lot about something. I want to know thoroughly on a particular topic and when i don’t understand or find what i want to know after reading for hours, it makes me frustrated and then i don’t continue studying. Hence, i have someone in my study group which is always able to answer what i ask and that is a blessing.

  1. I had no specific study time

I have some successful friends that we all know will not be available during a certain period of time because it is their study time. They set up their own time and will discipline themselves to not do anything else during that period. First thing you should do is find your best time.

Experiment on every part of the day, during the morning, the night, or maybe in the afternoon and then be discipline and consistent! Let others know that it is your time to study and you don’t want to be disturbed. This will help you a lot.

  1. I went out early during lab sessions

Sometimes i just don’t like being in cramp areas where you just have to gather closely and wait your turn to use the microscope or the specimen on the table. Usually i would just wait for someone to snap pictures and post it in our WhatsApp group or i would be the one taking the photos and then answer the questions from there.

You will find a lot of people that had just come to your table and ask for the specimen from you even though you had just hold it for like 5 seconds. Or the time when you are looking through the microscope for 10 seconds and when you pull your eyes from the eye piece you see at least 4 people waiting in line to use it too.

Yeah it does happen although not all the time, but enough for me to tell you all about it. A lot of question especially from the OSCE will come from the lab so use your time well. I would suggest recording all the labs in a systematic file, so you don’t have to worry about revising it before the exams.

  1. No system in keeping my jot down items.

One of the most helpful guide i found during lectures is to always jot down when the lecturers tell you that this is important and please read. That was when my specialty comes, apart from sleeping, is jotting down only the important stuff. It does help me a lot because most of what i jot down does comes out in exams.

The difficulty i had was i jot down in paper and i had to go through all the papers to find a small section which i circled and wrote above it the typical exclamation mark, hashtags and spikes to indicate it was important. So, save your time and list the important things in notes inside your phone or laptops. It will most likely come out if not in your semester exams, maybe your pro exams.


So that’s all for my 12 Reasons Why I Failed My Professional Exams! I hope you guys learn something here and try to not do the same mistakes as i did. Learning is suppose to be fun and easy. Remind yourself on why you chose this course and never ever give up because winners never quit!

Read more on List of Tips For Pre-Clinical.

Thank you.

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