Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Biochemistry

Currently listening to: Yesterday - The Beatles

It's over. Finally. After 9 months of intense studying, sleepless nights and days, anxiety, anger and nervousness, second year is officially finished.

Today's biochemistry exam was a decidedly average affair, the MCQs were good, the SAQs alright and the essay was okay but nothing special. The SAQs were about glycolysis and gluconeogenesis and I definitely messed up some of the pathway inhibitors though I think I got the metabolites and enzymes correct. The essay was about carbon dioxide transport in the blood. I wrote as much as I could with all the details I could remember and got to three pages, I hope that's enough.

I then went home and slept like a log for four hours. Having spent the past four weeks literally living in Mile End library and having slept there last night it felt nice to be back in my room for more than 20 minutes. After my nap I also felt less loathsome about everyone and everything...at the end of the day if you only sleep for an average of 3 hours a night for several weeks, eventually you begin feeling and looking like an extra from Dawn of the Dead. I am therefore very glad to say goodbye to the sleepless nights, endless energy drinks and the tedious revision that has come to sum up my life.

Anyway, results are out on the 17th, I'll update then to let you know how it goes. Depending on that I'll also be doing my UKCAT at some point as well as getting the med application together. In terms of results, if I've got a first then it's definitely proof that there's a God out there who has a soft spot for me. If I get a 2:1 then I really should thank my lucky stars. If I get a 2:2 I won't be surprised.

I can only hope that my efforts have paid off.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Who said biochemistry revision can't be fun?





11 hours to go.

Feeling: Panicked.

In: Damage control mode.

Still to do: Pyramdines and purines.

Still to do: Pathway memorisation.

Pulling: An all-nighter

Sleep: What's that?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Microbiology

Currently listening to: Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry

Today is probably the tiredest I've been over the whole exam period...three hours sleep last night...the effects of the past 3 weeks are starting to build up. Thank Christ there's only one more exam left.

Today's exam was Clinical Microbiology...well not much to say really, it was like nearly all my other exams...good MCQs, a great essay and terrible short answer questions in Section B...I'd completely forgotten the details about Hepatitis B and hepatocellular carcinoma. The essay was about discussing various bacterial, viral and parasitic gastrointestinal infections and the role of the microbiology lab in their diagnosis, I think that went well, having spoken to my friend afterwards we seemed to have covered the same points which gives me a bit more confidence. Plus I got 72% (A) for the coursework component...I'm praying that this is enough to make up for the poor SAQ performance.

I should really revise tonight, but I really need to sleep first, I must have dozed off at least three or four times in the exam itself, only for two or three minutes, but still...Tonight will definitely be an early night as I know that tomorrow night will be a repeat of last night, i.e. lots of cramming and staying up. I'll be glad when this is all over and I can start going to bed like a normal human being...before the sun rises.

Next exam: Essential Biochemistry

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Physiology

Currently listening to: Help - The Beatles

I'm feeling a bit confused and bewildered right now...possibly because of the fact that I've only been kept concious over this past week by pretty lethal amounts of Red Bull, tea, coffee and pretty much any stimulant except amphetamine. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that in the past five days, I've had about 20 hours of sleep in total...I bring whole new meanings to the term "cramming"...

The confusion and bewilderment also has a lot to do with today's exam, Biomedical Physiology II: Cardicac and Respiratory....the exam went surprisingly well. Yes, shocking! Anyone who's read any of the my previous exam reports will see that nearly all of my exams have had an area which I think will let me down, often the short answer questions in Section B. Whilst I wouldn't describe today's exam as perfect, I'd definitely describe it as challenging yet manageable, intense yet comfortable...in short an all round decent paper.

The MCQs went well, the SAQs were about capillary structure and function and the lymphatic system, I think I managed to get most of the points down. I think I got most of the points about the capillaries though I might have missed out some of the finer details of oedema. The essay was about the physiological response to haemhorrage, and I think I managed to get down most of the key points and the details.

Now, either I've actually done terribly and I'm in total denial, or I finally had an exam that went well! I'm thinking it's the latter however, and having done a pretty thorough exam post mortem with friends, we seemed to have all got the same points down, so hopefully I'm on the right track for a good grade.

Physiology coursework is an average of 72% (A) so that should be a great help to push me into the all important 2:1 bracket.

Anyway, it's stupid o' clock and I'm close to collapsing from exhaustion, so goodnight to you all!

Next exam: Clinical Microbiology

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Techniques

Having had about 9 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours I'm pretty tired and hacked off today, all for an exam that was about as nice as being shot in the heart. The MCQs were pretty so-so, I had to leave a few out because I really hadn't revised the physicsy stuff like MRI/NMR that well, but I think I did well on ELISA and antibody techniques. For once Section B's short answer questions went very well, they were about electrophoresis and PCR, which were topics I'd revised well. I think I managed to do well on that. Sounds okay so far doesn't it? Wrong, the essay ruined everything.

The title of the essay was to describe real time PCR and contrast it with traditional PCR, giving examples of where the former would be used. Whilst I'd revised traditional PCR a lot and started off the essay with an excellent, almost textbook recital of the damned thing, I knew virtually nothing about real time PCR (much less its applications). I tried my best to blag it but I don't think I'll get away with it, I really know nothing about real time PCR. So that's it, I answered the question incompletely which probably means I'll get less than half marks for that section.

I got 65% (a B) for the coursework component of this module, but I don't think even that will be enough to make up for the poor essay performance and pretty average MCQ answers. I had really hoped that I'd finish this year with eight good grades (i.e. only As and Bs) but I really don't think that's likely anymore.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Practical uses of centrifugation?

Currently listening to: Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol

Let's keep today's post simple, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's how I'm feeling about Techniques cramming revision:


As for practical uses of centrifugation (one of the objectives on the syllabus I'm working through), here are my thoughts:

  1. Used to bore students senseless
  2. Used to drive students to the brink of suicide
  3. Used to drive students to the brink of commiting murder against professors and all academics
  4. Used to remind students that they ought to have studied harder during A levels so they could be at med school and not faffing about with this crap.
  5. Occasionally used to separate biomedical particles according to their density

An answer worthy of a first? What do you think?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Nutrition & Metabolism

Another cold. Yes. Another one...two in a month?! I'm seriously beginning to suspect that I might have some sort of immune problem....then again it could just be all the stress I've been under lately...

All through school and my first year of university I maybe only had one cold a year...in second year of university however I think I've had about six or seven colds, and here's the latest one which helpfully also comes at the same time as the hay fever season kicks in...double whammy.

So that's how I woke up on the day of my nutrition and metabolism exam...sore throat, headache, runny nose, general malaise and pissed off-ness. I hastily took a few paracetamols and continued cramming feverishly (literally). The exam itself was okay, the multiple choice questions were alright, didn't know much about peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, so I had to skip that question. Section B's short answer questions weren't very short at all, in fact they were mini-essays, and yet again this section was got through simply by winging it and hoping that the examiner won't punish me too harshly for writing absolute rubbish. The Section C essay went quite well, it was about maintenance of blood glucose concentrations, and I think I managed to write a decent answer.

The worst part wasn't the exam itself, but doing it with a sore throat and cold...it felt like my throat was on fire, but I'd forgotten to bring a drink with me so I started coughing really loudly which earned me a few glares off some of the other students. The blocked nose and temperature also made it difficult to breathe and generally made me feel stupid and lethargic. The exam really could have gone either way...at least I have an A- in the coursework.

Still, at least now I'm at the half way point, four down, four to go.

Next exam: Techniques in Biomedical Sciences.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Pharmacology

Currently listening to: California Sun - The Ramones

Whilst the rest of the country went through a general election, resignations, various political back-stabbings, the Lib Dems prostituting themselves to the Conservatives and the commencement of the reign of the Dear Leader of Big Society David Cameron, I carried right on with pharmacology cramming revision, staying up till the early hours memorising tonnes of drug names and structures which all culminated in today's exam.

On the whole today's exam experience was much like all of the other ones...the MCQs were good, the essay was reasonably okay (about drugs affecting acetylcholine) and Section B was an absolute disaster involving lots of frantic scribbling, haphazard guessing, bullshitting and the actual making up of scientific "facts" (I'm not joking). In fact I'm too scared to even perform my usual after exam post-mortem lest I realise just how much rubbish I wrote for that section.

In short it could have gone better...I'm not expecting any firsts, still five more to go eh?

Next exam: Nutrition & Metabolism

Monday, 10 May 2010

Coursework roundup

The last few marks from Semester B's courseworks have been uploaded...I did quite well and I need to gloat :)

Clinical Microbiology (they gave the combined mark of the poster, practicals and spot test) : 72% - A
Essential Biochemistry Practical 3: 74% - A
Essential Biochemistry Practical 4: 69% - B

I never thought I would get As or Bs for the biochemistry courseworks as I still have no idea what they were on about, though luckily practicals don't come up in the end of year exams. I guess all those hours making countless graphs and tables in the library paid off!

So coursework averages for each module in second year are as follows:

Biomedical physiology II - 72% - A
Clinical microbiology - 72% - A
Human molecular biology - 70% - A
Nutrition and whole body metabolism - No mark given - A-
Basic immunology - 68% - B
Essential biochemistry for human life - 67% - B
Techniques in biomedical sciences - 65% - B
Biomedical pharmacology - 61% - B

Four As and four Bs! Much better than last year...lets hope the end of year exams follow a similar pattern!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Immunology

Hey all, sorry for the late update. I had my second end of year exam on Thursday, that being Immunology, speaking of which they finally released the coursework results, I got 68% (a B)...which is something to be very thankful about since a third of the year were done for plagiarism, so as it happened I had one of the top results, in fact I don't know anyone who got above 75%...much bitterness and anger from many Immunology students...

The exam went okay, the multiple choice section was alright, if a bit rushed, Section B was awful, I can't see myself getting more then half marks for it, if I'm very very lucky and Section C, the essay, was about the immune response to skin infections which I think went very well.

The trouble is that all three sections are worth roughly the same (i.e. 34%, 33%, 33%) which is unfortunate seeing as Section B was only one short answer question but Section C which I think I did quite well on was an essay requiring lots of detail, planning and content, though worth exactly the same as the other sections. So sadly doing well in the essay section won't necessarily make up for a bad Section B performance. I don't know, my main worry is doing well in the coursework, then letting myself down badly in the exam and getting a mediocre grade overall, i.e. a C, which would be really disappointing.

Next exam: Pharmacology

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Eight Labours of the Grumpy Biomed: Molecular Biology

Currently listening to: Jerk It Out - Caesars

The rather pretentious title aside (I like Greek mythology, what can I say?) today was the first end of year exam, Human Molecular Biology. I think the exam went alright but I'm not cocky enough to describe it as "easy" and I'm definitely not brave enough to guess what I got. The multiple choice section was probably the toughest as it required thorough knowledge of all aspects of the course, which is quite hard to manage when you have seven other subjects to revise. The short answer questions were a mixed bag...the first question went well, I think I got most of the points about DNA denaturation and reannealing...the second question on the various parts of the nucleosome went less well, to be honest I did attempt to blag a lot of it...luckily this was worth 13 marks and question 1 was worth 20...

The essay was the final question and bizzarely this was the one I think went best, it was about describing post-transcriptional modification, I managed to get down all the necessary points about capping, polyadenylation and splicing, I just hope I went into enough detail!

At the end of the day it's all over now I guess, I should really start preparing for immunology which is on Thursday. Also luckily I have an average of 70% for the molecular biology coursework element which is worth 25% of the whole module meaning I already have 17.5% of the module under my belt...that should be a help on the way to the all important 2:1...