4 Ways to Avoid Burnout in Your UCAT Prep

4 Ways to Avoid Burnout in Your UCAT Prep

4 months ago by Chris

This is it. You are in the final months of your last year of high school. It is the last lap in the race to the finish line. It is time to grind… Or is it?

What is burnout? It’s when you’re drowning in mountains of workload, overwhelmed with panic / exhaustion / a combination of both and it is usually caused by prolonged or excessive stress. Burnout is pretty much that cheeky bugger that sticks their foot out and trips you over in your last dash to the finish line. This blog outlines 4 ways to avoid burnout in your final year of school and in your UCAT preparation.


1. Be organised (ish)

Now coming from a self-proclaimed procrastinator, this point is a bit ironic but I’m going to say it anyway. Note down assessment periods and other key dates such as when assignments are due, your UCAT testing day, medicine interviews and even that three day volleyball competition you have coming up. Whether it’s in your diary, scribbled on that monthly planner on your corkboard, synced to the MedEntry UCAT calendar or just noted down in your phone’s calendar, you’ll know what is going on. Hopefully then you’re not going to be surprised by any pesky assignments creeping up.

Also, read your emails! Your teachers send you them for a reason - whether it is your trials exam schedule, the slides to that powerpoint they showed in class that had some really good quotes or some final past papers including differentiation (which you asked for last lesson) to practice. It keeps you up to date and armed with information that could help if you knew it earlier rather than two weeks down the track.

If you’ve memorised word for word your Eliot essay but not your 1984 essay and then you find out your teachers decided to be nice and leave Module B out… If you have done hundreds of maths questions but barely looked over the theory from that last module of chemistry and then you only realise the week before trials that your maths exam is after your chemistry exam… That’s when you’re in trouble.


2. Know how to pace yourself

One of the most common mistakes that students make is going too hard, too early. For aspiring medicine students who are more often than not perfectionists, this can lead to the famous crash and burn right before, or even worse, during the UCAT exam period. Whether it’s school assessments or trial preparation, which oh-so-conveniently overlaps with your UCAT exam, the last thing you want to be doing is burning out.

So what’s the solution? Being organised (see my first point) means you can plan out your time and avoid high levels of workload. So if you know you’ve got trials in week 3 and UCAT in week 1, maybe make sure you are up to date with your subjects’ contents so that you can dedicate a time in the weeks leading up to UCAT to be able to fit in a final UCAT practice exam (under timed conditions!). If you know that volleyball competition is at the end of week 2, maybe you should have done a couple past papers for each subject in the holidays so that you can ask your teachers  for help with that difficult concept while you still have classes. Or you can be stuck in Coffs Harbour, panicking about what Eliot really meant in that last line of ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. 

Another solution is tapering: reducing workload in the leadup to important events in order to peak at said events.

Athletes do it, so why shouldn’t you? On the night before trials or UCAT, most students are running around like headless chooks or buried in ten years’ worth of past papers. Rather than doing this, this should be the time to put down the pen (or computer) and destress. How much can you really get done in those final three hours? This is particularly so for UCAT, which is a skills based and not knowledge based exam.


3. Keep your hobbies up

Contrary to my parents’ beliefs, it’s not possible to study day in, day out, only stopping to eat, sleep and go to school (which is still studying!).  Many students quit their extracurricular activities in the leadup to the final years of high school, saying they “just don’t have enough time”. That two hours you spend playing tennis or going to a pottery class every week is much better spent taking a break and doing something you enjoy rather than tearing out your hair to find a more sophisticated word for ‘explores’.

Whether it’s basketball, baking, painting, board game night with your family or taco night with friends, these are the little things that make life enjoyable. Year 12 isn’t all about studying so don’t stop the things that make you, you!


4. Health is everything

You have heard it before but I’m going to say it again just to drill it in. Health, health health! If you slept at 3am last night, you’re not going to be able to concentrate for long enough to retain any information. Another downside is you’ll probably end up either lashing out at your family, napping or breaking down with tears covering your legal studies textbook. Keep eating those nutritious meals your parents cook you (and say thanks for everything that they do for you!) and get in at least thirty minutes of exercise for just a couple days of week.

If you are experiencing burnout, try your best to set aside your workload (even for a couple hours) and find a way to destress. If that still doesn’t work, reach out to your friends and family and know that your marks don’t define you. Good luck!



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