Many of your seniors might advise you to start early to eliminate your stress further on in the year. However, easier said than done. Hopefully, by the end of this, you will have a clearer view of what needs to be done at this crucial point of time.
Disclaimer: this article is more suited to lower sixth students (year 12) or below.
It is rather daunting to balance those 6 subjects of IB plus the extended essay and TOK with medicine application (UKCAT, BMAT and interviews). Many would fret over which should be given higher priority: is it the medicine application, because if you don’t get in, then getting fantastic results in the IB does not seem so useful? Or is it the IB, since you need to meet the conditional offers that medical schools give you?
I would say they are both important but depending on the point of time you are in, you can give priority to one over the other. A brief time plan should give you this:
UKCAT: July to October
UCAS deadline: mid-October
BMAT: September or November
IB Coursework: (variable due to internal deadlines set by schools) generally, January to March
IB Exam: May (or Nov)
One might notice that the summer after Lower Sixth would hold much importance. So whilst ideally, one would use that summer to de-stress, relax and detoxify the toxins accumulated after one school year, your post-lower-sixth summer should instead be put to good use revising for UKCAT, BMAT, planning for personal statements and brainstorming ideas for extended essay and various pieces of coursework. It does sound like hard work but few tips to make it relatively durable:
- Divide the workload into easy-to-manage chunks.
Don’t cram all the revision in one day. Do a few questions per day and of course, nearer to the UKCAT or BMAT, do try to do the whole thing under timed conditions.
The same applies to IB revision.
- Remember quality, not quantity.
In those time chunks that you allocate to a subject, don’t focus on getting through as many questions as you can, but getting it correct. Try to get to the crux of why you got a question wrong, as a similar framework or thinking approach can be utilised for other questions. Good resources for these would be the UKCAT and BMAT question banks offered by 6med, the UKCAT ninja and BMAT ninja respectively. You might also want to enrol yourself in a 6med UKCAT/BMAT crash course to get some guidance and top tips.
- Set deadlines
Set your own internal deadline to complete the task. For instance, the deadline for personal statement is mid October (the time when you need to submit your UCAS), you might want to set your deadline of submitting UCAS to early October, which means you should complete your personal statement by late August to give yourself plenty of time to give to your supervisors or friends to comment and for you to correct.
So with UKCAT, UCAS, BMAT and coursework out of the way, you can then focus on interviews and the Final IB Exam. Again, a similar approach can be used. However, with the added complexity of IB exam being 6 subjects with 2-3 papers each, another useful tip would be to spice things up by swapping subjects when you start to get bored or lose attention. E.g. Why not do a Maths past paper when you get bored of revising for Chemistry?
Of course, do take time to relax, exercise and sleep! So, good luck and see you on the other side!