With the UCAT around the corner, as well as school assignments and exams, it can be quite a stressful time for students. Many students will spend the majority of the day practising UCAT- style questions and completing practise exams, as well as devoting a large amount of time to UCAT preparation. However, this does not mean your hobbies and interests should be forgotten about.
After a long day of lessons, it can be quite daunting to sit at a desk and prepare for the night. Sometimes, motivation to ascertain a place in university to study Medicine can flicker as the late nights become endless. Therefore, it is even more vital to keep up with your hobby, albeit not as strenuously.
For some, physical exercise helps to clear the mind and improves cognition. Competitive sports such as rugby, basketball or even rowing are great stress relievers and help to keep you focused. However, you don’t have to join a club or new sport to feel the benefits. A fifteen-minute run in the proximity of your house, or even sprinting up and down the stairs can help to boost your mood.
Your hobby doesn’t need to include exercise, so long as it is something you are passionate about and will help to recharge your batteries, while leaving you refreshed for your next slot of study. Reading a book, or listening to music, can help you to temporarily switch-off from the high-pressured mindset, as well as provide you with a well-deserved break. Painting a picture can be extremely therapeutic and help you to relax your mind.
Your hobby can help you with UCAT preparation also. Books can help you to develop a sense of empathy, while assessing what characters would do in certain situations. Cheerful music can help you to develop the correct mindset for the Understanding People construct of the UCAT exam. Even sudokus or word-searches will enable you to use your brain in different, more analytical ways.
Dancing had helped me before my UCAT to become more rejuvenated, which led to me obtaining entry in university to study Medicine.
However, be careful not to fall into the trap of social media. Generally, the majority of people will spend an excessive amount of time on it and feel guilty later on, once it has impacted on their work. This behaviour is not productive and will only lead to the wasting of valuable time. Have a timer nearby and set it to have an adequate break, while not spending an exorbitant amount of time on social media.
At this vital stage, UCAT preparation will be extensive, and free time may seem short in supply. Yet, organisation is key to ensure you get the best out of the week study-wise, while finding time for yourself. Every week, draw out a timetable, allocating revision slots for school, as well as UCAT study. This will help you to identify free time, so you can enjoy your hobby guilt-free.
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Adapted from a blog post written for MedEntry by Dervla, a 98th percentile student in the HPAT (similar test in Ireland), who is studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin.