Welcome! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

My Lost Glory in Academics

In the past before I entered university, I used to get excellent results in examinations. I obtained 9A+ 1A in SPM and 4A* in A Level. I also achieved straight A's in every single school and college exams from October 2009 until August 2014, a 5 year record. In September 2014, I started studying Medicine at NUMed Malaysia. At that time, I was hoping that I could continue my academic excellence in university.

On 22 September 2014 which is my first day at NUMed, the lecturer explained to us about the assessment system. For Stage 1 and 2, there are 3 forms of assessment which are Progress examination, OSCE and assignment. Every assessment is given 3 grades which are Green (Safe pass), Amber (Borderline pass) and Red (Fail). In order pass a Stage, students need to pass all 3 forms of assessments. A good performance in one cannot compensate for a poor performance in another. At that time, I felt that Progress examinations would be my strong point while assignments would be my weak point since I previously studied A Level which is fully examination based. The pass mark for Progress examinations is usually around 52%. I aimed to score 80% or above in every Progress examination because that feels like getting grade A, even though there is actually no special grade for 80%. As for the OSCE and assignments, I was just aiming for pass.

Things went well in the beginning. On 3 November 2014, it was the Stage 1 Progress 1 examination which is the first exam in university. I felt that the exam was more difficult compared to A Level, as many of the questions require a lot of thinking. I also found the questions on anatomy very difficult, but there were only a few of them. Despite that, I successfully scored 84% in that exam which is a very good result and I was ranked 9 in the whole cohort. I was very happy about my results and that greatly boosted my confidence in studying Medicine. I wanted to maintain the same results for the next examination. In early December 2014, I started my revision for the Stage 1 Progress 2 examination. While revising, I did not put in any effort to improve my knowledge on anatomy which I had identified as my weak point, because I thought that anatomy is not important since only a few questions on it appeared in Progress 1.

On 12 and 13 January 2015, it was the Stage 1 Progress 2 examination. Unlike the Progress 1, this exam had 2 papers. For Progress 2 Paper 1, I felt that it was about as difficult as Progress 1. Once again, there were a few anatomy questions and I could not answer most of them. After Paper 1 ended, I went back to the university accommodation together with a few friends. During the journey, I discussed with them about the exam questions. They said that they felt the anatomy questions were not difficult. Also, there were a few questions which I was already very confident that I answered correctly, but my friends had different answers, and they were also very sure that they were correct. That affected my confidence on Paper 1, and I felt I did not answer it that well compared to the Progress 1. I was hoping that I could do better in Paper 2 to compensate for that. What's more annoying is that one of my housemate proudly said that the anatomy questions were easy and that he felt his "love on anatomy is beginning to grow".

It turned out that Paper 2 was much more difficult than Paper 1. Out of my expectation, there were many questions on anatomy, most of which I could not answer. After taking Paper 2, I knew I had no chance of getting 80% in the Progress 2 anymore. Worst of all, when my housemate (who said the anatomy questions were easy) knew about that, he mocked me by saying "How are you going to be a doctor when you don't know anatomy?" I was quite annoyed with him over that incident. Eventually, I scored 73% for the exam. I was disappointed that my score had dropped a lot compared to the Progress 1, and as a result I hated the Progress 2. The timing of the Progress 2 exam was also bad. It was scheduled immediately after the winter break, therefore I could not relax and was forced to study during the break. In addition, the deadline for the 2nd assignment was just 2 weeks after the exam, so I had to start doing the assignment immediately after the exam and thus could not relax.

On 11 March 2015, I finally completed the 3rd and last assignment in Stage 1. After all those assignments, I decided to relax for one whole month. In mid April 2015, I started studying for the Stage 1 Progress 3 examination. Initially, I aimed to get back 80% in the Progress 3. However, I soon realised that I had started my revision too late. There were a lot to revise for the Progress 3 since it would test on everything learnt in both Semester 1 and 2 and that made me feel very stressed. I knew I could no longer get 80% so I gave up on it. The Progress 3 exam was on 26 and 27 May 2015. Progress 3 Paper 1 again had many anatomy questions and I could not answer many of them. Paper 2 also had many questions on anatomy, but somehow I was able to answer some of them. Still, I knew that I had no chance of getting 80% in the exam. On 4 June 2015, the overall results for Stage 1 was released. I obtained 68% for the Progress 3 and I passed Stage 1 successfully. At that time, I was having 4 month summer break. Since I had passed Stage 1, I did not think much about my examination results. Instead, I fully relaxed and enjoyed myself throughout the break.

On 29 September 2015, I began Stage 2. At that time, I felt that the 4 month break seemed to pass so quickly and I was still in holiday mood, so I could not get myself back to study. Then, one day in October 2015, I was thinking back of Stage 1. I realised that in the beginning of Stage 1, I was an excellent student, just like before I entered university, but starting from the Stage 1 Progress 2 exam onwards, my exam results dropped a lot and thus I had lost my excellence in academics. The Stage 1 Progress 1 exam was the last time I ever obtained excellent results. I felt sad thinking about that. I told myself that I must make a comeback by regaining my excellence in academics. I set myself the target of getting 80% or above in my next examination which was the Stage 2 Progress 1. That got me out of my holiday mood and back to study. I started revising for the Progress 1 examination in late October 2015 which was quite early. This time, I put in my effort to revise anatomy in more detail, since my weak point was anatomy. The revision made me feel quite stressed, but I persevered in order to achieve my aim.

The Stage 2 Progress 1 examination was on 11 and 12 January 2016. It turned out that this exam was very difficult as it tested on a lot of fine details, many of which I did not pay much attention during my revision. So, despite having done a lot of revision, I still could not answer very well in this exam. On 18 January 2016, the results of the Progress 1 exam was released and my score was 72%. I did not reach my target of 80% and I felt quite sad and disappointed over that. Later on the same day, I heard of the news that the JPA scholarship for leavers of the KPM Bursary had been suspended. It affected students who would be entering university from January 2016 onwards, and would not affect me and other students who were already offered the scholarship. I felt sad and pity for those students, and I gave them words of encouragement through the Facebook group for Bursary students. Then, thinking of myself, I realised how lucky I am to be sponsored by the JPA scholarship to study Medicine at NUMed. Even though I did not get 80% in the exam, I still passed and thus would be able to continue my course under the scholarship. Actually, my disappointment of not getting 80% in the exam is nothing if compared to the disappointment of those students who might be unable to further their studies due to the suspension of the JPA scholarship. Therefore, I should be grateful with my score in the exam, as long as it is a pass. Because of that, I was no longer disappointed about not getting 80% in the exam.

In late April 2016, after completing the last assignment for Stage 2, I started revising for the Stage 2 Progress 2 examination. Many students and even the lecturers claimed that this exam is the 2nd most difficult exam in our entire Medicine course. Therefore, even before I started the revision, I already expected that it would be very stressful. My expectation was true. I experienced extreme stress throughout May 2016 where I was busy revising. Amid the stress, I was worried that I might even fail the exam because I felt that I could not finish the revision in time. I was just hoping to pass and nothing more than that. I dared not even think about getting 80% as I knew that would be impossible. On 31 May and 1 June 2016, it was the Stage 2 Progress 2 exam. After all the hard work, I was able to answer reasonably well in the exam. The overall results for Stage 2 was released on 8 June 2016. I scored 64% in the Progress 2 and I passed Stage 2 successfully. Even though my results was worse compared to the previous examinations, I was grateful about it because I still passed.

From Stage 3 onwards, it is the clinical years. Compared to pre-clinical years, the learning process for clinical years is quite different, where there is a great emphasis on self-directed learning. As a result, clinical years is much more difficult and stressful. Therefore, I am definitely just aiming for a pass. I do not aim for better results as that will add to my stress. My attempt to regain my excellence in academics during Stage 2 had failed, and it looks like I will never be able to regain it again, but that doesn't matter to me anymore. Now, I have realised that whether I scored just a pass or 100% or anywhere in between, I am still graduating with the same MBBS degree, since my performance in exams will not be stated on the degree certificate at all, so regaining my academics excellence serves no real purpose. Medicine is a difficult degree course, so it is not reasonable to aim for the same level of performance in exams like A Level previously.