Top 5 thoughts medical students have during the exam period (and how to deal with them)

UKMLAforums would like to present the “Top 5 for medical students” blog series. We give a warm welcome  to our new blog series editor – Sumona Mandal. Enjoy! 

To kick off this blog series we’re starting off with a topic all of us as medical students can relate to- EXAM STRESS. Easter is a well-deserved break from term-time, but we all know Easter comes with deadlines, time-tables and late nights. Here are some thoughts that might be going through your head, and some ideas on how deal with them

What if I’m working wrong- are other people working better than me?

In a competitive environment like medical school, it’s easy to get caught up with what other people are doing. You are surrounded by people who work differently to you. There will be people who make you feel as though you are not doing enough or the right thing, but focus on what you need to do to learn. At the end of the day, you are all learning the same information, it is about how you best maximise what you learn. If this means working fewer hours to have breaks to recharge, or using visual methods rather than reading out of the textbook, it doesn’t matter, as long as it works and you get the results you want!


Am I working enough- what if I fail my exam?

With so much content and the difficulty of exams, it is easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. Take everything one step at a time. Focus on learning as much as you can, being able to use this knowledge in an unknown situation and most importantly, trust yourself. The medical school chose you for a reason, and if they believe you can get through these exams there is no reason you shouldn’t believe in yourself!


How am I going to be able to recall this information?

One of the biggest fears is the unknown- there is no way you can guarantee what the exam questions will be and whether you will know the answer, but there are ways to maximise your chances. Some of the highest efficacy study methods are testing and spaced repetition. Use flashcards and ask yourself questions at regular intervals to maximise what you retain so you can replicate the knowledge in an exam situation.


I don’t feel like I can keep this going for another month

The revision period can feel never-ending, and you may feel as though you cannot face revising day in, day out. Burnout is a common problem medical students face, and it is important to recognise the signs of burnout and do something about it as soon as possible. Take some time for yourself, even if you feel like you have a million things to do – go on a walk, spend time with family, exercise, bake- whatever you need to rest and get yourself motivated again. You cannot work efficiently if your mind is exhausted!


Is this worth all worth it?

There can be times where you wonder whether all the stress, the work, the late nights, the coffee, is worth it. Try talking to friends and family and reminding yourself why you are doing it. Everyone has different reasons as to why they want to be a doctor- revisit this, focus on it, and think about the bigger picture and the impact you are going to have on your patients’ lives. It will be worth it in the end

Exams are difficult and stressful times, but we all have these thoughts and can support each other. Remember that after exams we are one step closer to becoming doctors, changing people’s lives and doing what we set out to do when we entered medical school. You can get through, believe in yourself!

About the Author

Hi, I’m Sumona and I’m a UCL medical student. I’m passionate about medical education and I hope that my posts are interesting and inspiring for you. Check out my personal blog for posts on travel, food and my experiences being a student in London!



The UKMLAforums team would like to wish you a Happy Easter holiday! Don’t forget to comment below what you will be revising this easter. 

What to know more about the UKMLA?

Check out our post on frequently asked questions on the  UKMLA exam, or our informative posts on the the AKT and CPSAs which will both be a part of the UKMLA exam. 

Need some more goal setting tips? Click here to read our guide on setting direct and indirect goals and how to make sure you reach your goals.

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The life so short, the craft so long to learn – Hippocrates



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