What should we do this summer?
After one of the craziest academic years of all time, it is finally the summer holidays. I actually can’t believe I’ve finished year 12- it’s certainly been a very enriching year and I have had so many awesome opportunities and a chance to develop lots of skills outside academia. Since school is finally out (although I haven’t set foot in school since March…), I thought I’d consider the question: what should we be doing this summer to get ready for our medical applications? I am going to talk you through my plans in a bid to give you a bit of inspiration if you’re stuck but please remember that ultimately you can choose what you do this summer. Also, these are just plans so may be a little optimistic!
Other than relaxing of course so I don’t burn out, I have a few main goals for the summer. The first is to revise for and do well in my UCAT. This is going to involve lots of practice questions every day as well as some honing my technique. If you want to read more about my UCAT experience, I made a blog post all about it so have a read of that. Another goal of mine is to revise the content I covered in my A levels this year so I feel fairly confident for year 13. I’ve always been someone who likes to revise little and often, learning as I go, so this approach has helped me in previous years. I also plan on going to more webinars, lectures and other online events to help strengthen my personal statement and have more things to talk about at interview where necessary (also these events are generally just super interesting to go to!). All in all, that makes for a pretty busy summer so how am I making sure that everything gets done?
Quite simply, I am using a weekly planner and have spent some time separating all my tasks out onto each day of the summer. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without my weekly and daily planner- they are literally the holy grail for staying productive! First, I went through and made note of any events I had planned, such as summer school, a holiday and any other random days out I’d planned in advance. This stopped me putting revision days in those slots where I clearly couldn’t study or be productive all day. I also added in any online events I’d signed up to. I have some online lectures planned (Nottingham University is currently hosting a great lecture series if you want a place to start and UCL have started one too) as well as a few webinars and Instagram lives that I want to go to. It’s important to me to jot these things down otherwise I will forget which would be a real shame. I am also a tutor, so I wrote down all my shifts too to help stop me planning to do too much work on some days. Next, it was time to plan the actual work I want to get done this summer. This included my UCAT preparation, school work and anything else I want to read up on or do. I tried to make my plans as specific as possible so instead of just writing UCAT (because I knew already I wanted to prepare for that), I would write UCAT practice paper or question bank or specific videos. This really helps me to focus my time and allows me to be much more efficient. I have done a similar thing with my school work and planned further reading, writing the specific chapter I want to study as well as the study method and the specific topic I want to read around rather than just ‘biology revision’ and ‘further reading’. I have tried to make my plans as realistic as possible too, but I guess I’ll find out how realistic they are when I attempt to follow them. I have also mostly left the weekends blank (except for UCAT) to give me time to switch off and do other things. This also allows me more flexibility to move tasks around if something comes up.
Whilst this summer is a great opportunity for us to work on our medicine application, I think it’s equally important that we find time to relax and do other things besides work in the holidays. Medical schools also value well rounded applicants so our hobbies shouldn’t be pushed aside. I can definitely fall into the trap for feeling guilty when I’m not being productive too but am trying my best to combat this fear of doing nothing. This summer is definitely going to involve lots of playing the guitar, doing yoga, seeing friends (safely of course) and just chilling out (aka netflix). I don’t want to go into year 13 exhausted already, but refreshed and ready.
Ultimately, you can choose how much or little you want to do this summer (although UCAT prep is advisable!) but I definitely think it’s worth some consideration. At least roughly planning our time can really help us to achieve our goals and use our time effectively. I’m going to link some of the events I’m planning on attending below and I’d love to hear about your plans too. Have an amazing summer!
You’ve got this!
Written by Aimear Wolstenholme (student who has engaged with Medsimple programmes)