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July 30, 2021, 05:48:45 am

Author Topic: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed  (Read 2380 times)

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Billuminati

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Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« on: January 08, 2020, 02:11:26 am »
+15
How I got here: Hello everyone, my name is Bill and I have just completed my first year of Monash biomed in 2019. In this journal Iíll be documenting my journey through the final 2 years of my degree and anything that may come after it. My unit reviews on the Monash Subject Reviews thread already serve as a mini uni journal for me in first year, detailing every nitty gritty detail of my experience with all the assessment tasks I had so far in every unit. Now, I have decided to start a full uni journal as an exercise in reflective writing, which Chantal said was very important for doctors and health workers. So Iím a class of 2018 graduate who failed the UMAT epically (57%ile, failed section 2 with a 43). My high school exams also screwed me over *cough 2018 methods exam 1 cough* and here I am now. I toughed out one year of biomed already with a 4.0 GPA and an OK WAM, one of my goals for the next 2 years would be maintaining this GPA and improving my WAM to the mid-high 90s. However, given that an unstated prereq to ALL courses is sanity, my other, arguably more important goal, would be to not go crazy and to take good care of my mental health even in the stressful atmospheres of GAMSAT preparation, semester exams or med interviews. Bottom line is, I donít want to be in need of a doctor before I become one :P.

Plans for the rest of my degree: Given that itís biomed Iím taking, I donít really get that many electives to begin with. Iím taking a 6-unit minor in chem (CHM1011, 1022, 2911, 2942, 3930, 3972) and two level 3 physiology units (PHY3181, 3990) because theyíre required for an MTeach in chem and bio, for some reason the education faculty considers 6 units as a major lol. The chem units are all bludge units (except for CHM2911), so coupled with my interest in chem hopefully theyíll carry my GPA and WAM. In particular, from the unit guides I can already see that CHM2942 (biological chem) and CHM3930 (medicinal chem) will have significant overlaps with our biochem/molecular bio units (BMS1011, 1062, 2021, 2062). Iím taking PHY3181 (hormones and reproduction) because hormones are just fancy organic molecules and I enjoyed the hormone lectures in BMS1052 so much that I wish to specialise in endocrinology if I get into MD. The reproduction component doesnít really interest me that much, it looks too similar to dev bio which I deliberately avoided due to the amount of memorisation required. The research project (PHY3990) I want to do is naturally the one hosted by the unit coordinator of PHY3181 (Renea), which is on the effects of hormones on prostrate cancer tissue. This combination of PHY units has many of my astrology-obsessed mates commenting that itís so typically pervy of my star sign (Scorpio apparently, I remember my birthday was the day before my year 12 English exam).  In addition to my units, I shall treat GAMSAT preparation as a separate unit during the winter and summer breaks.

Plans after my degree: Like virtually every other Asian biomed boi out there, Iím gunning for the juicy postgrad MD/DDS courses. Iíll take an honours year if I have to, to give myself more transferable skills and an extra 2 attempts at the GAMSAT. If I still fail, I might go into secondary teaching, though Iím leaning away from this now. My high school teachers warned me against a career in teaching because of the overwhelming amount of paperwork and that thereís a general trend where parents and kids are increasingly entitled, disrespectful and demanding. Iím also considering electrical or chemical engineering. I prefer chem eng cuz itís pretty much thermodynamics which I enjoyed in chem, but Iím also interested in developing AIs with the knowledge Iíll acquire in an ECSE specialisation and neurophysiology from biomed. In Australia, jobs in these specialisations are limited, so Iím OK with relocating. My ATAR from 2018 just makes the cut for the accelerated Masters Program, so Iíll apply for that for entry in 2022 along with an MTeach.

Plans for the summer break Relentless GAMSAT study/procrastination. Iím trying to study BMS2021, BMS2031 and CHM2911 in advance because they contain topics on GAMSAT section 3 that werenít taught in 1st year. Iím also busy moderating a VCE discord server and answering any questions from the current year 11-12s there. As Chantal noted, teaching is the best form of learning and you can remember 95% of what you teach. By helping high schoolers with understanding bio and chem concepts, Iím forcing myself to really understand the foundations of what Iím learning now, which makes absorbing new content from biomed so much easier, itís a win-win. Iíll also be giving myself work experience should I one day decide to pursue a career in education, even if I miraculously get into med school, ideally I wish to practice medicine for a few years then come back to be a professor. I wouldíve applied for a PASS leader position for 2020, but I heard it will be better to do this in my 3rd year when Iíll have less units. Just counting down to when Iíll be free again. T-minus 186 days until sem 1 result release day. Totally donít want to know exactly how long I have until GAMSAT day. Signing off for today.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 02:31:13 pm by Billuminati »
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2020, 12:02:29 am »
+3
10/01/2020 Update: Finally finished studying physics and physical chem concepts that weren't taught to us in BMS1031 and CHM1011. Only systems physiology left to go before I start trial GAMSAT exams, already have section 1, 2, organic chem, physical chem, physics and most of bio nailed and good to go. Also I realised that using the right hand rule in the exam may look very suspicious to the invigilators lol
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 12:06:30 am by Billuminati »
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

laura_

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2020, 08:36:26 am »
+2
Hey Bill! Great to meet you. (I love your profile GIF btw, very cool.) What interests you about medicine and being a doctor? ;D
she/her

2020: Biology [43]
2021: Chem, Spec, Methods, Lit, HDS101 [HD], HDS106

2022: Speech Pathology?

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2020, 07:32:59 pm »
+3
Hey Bill! Great to meet you. (I love your profile GIF btw, very cool.) What interests you about medicine and being a doctor? ;D

Cheers Laura, the main thing that appeals to me about being a doctor is the personal development aspect of it, I think it's a rare job that can turn you into a better person as you go into the profession instead of making you more cynical/jaded like most jobs do. I used to want to make a difference as an oncologist, but I realized very quickly that it will be very bad for my mental health seeing patients suffer and their families grieve. I was sick when I was a baby for a month and my mum described the differences a good and bad doctor could make on children's health using my experience as an example (I must've been too young to remember). That got me into pediatry for a while, but given that it requires even more responsibility and burden if I potentially mess something up and that I'll literally have lives of future generations in my hand, it might be too much. Endocrinology is my current choice because it's low risk, I loved the endocrine content taught in BMS so far and I get to be a part of the solution for the obesity/diabetes crisis. I know most people got their inspirations for med by seeing one of their family members get sick/die, but tbh my family has limited exposure to medicine thanks to healthy genetics that run in my family. All 4 of my grandparents are 80+ years old and really healthy. I got some inside info of the profession from my grandaunt who's a gynecologist, she gave me a realistic view on medicine as a career with all its pros and cons, so I guess that would be enough to make up for the lack of contact with the health system for the time being, although I would prefer to find out more myself via a placement or something
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 07:38:05 pm by Billuminati »
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2021, 02:56:32 am »
+9
Just a quick update on the hell that is Monash biomed (and no I didn't die of rona  :P)

Due to mental health reasons, I took a gap year for the entirety of 2020 as soon as rona hit here. So, technically I got held down one year, but I was surprised no one actually judged me in my new cohort for being slightly older. This semester was hella a wild ride, my grades were up from first year despite the numerous horrible group projects, Iím probably annoying the hell out of other students and lecturers by spamming the forums with my dumb questions and I canít stress enough that my sleep cycle is FUBAR. I did BMS2011, BMS2021, BMS2031 and CHM2911 as my elective, and I'll write reviews for those as soon as I get my results back. In the SETUs, I'm a massive Karen especially with my anatomy unit, for which I have an exam in 3 days, you'll see why when I write my review on it on results day.

I've taken the GAMSAT back in March with some preparation as in going over my lecture notes from first year, and somehow got a 66 overall score on it (62/62/70), showing up as 82-83rd percentile on the sigmoidal curve ACER provides. Luckily, this displaced my abysmal UMAT results located on my home page of the ACER portal so I won't have to look that in the face anymore. I'll definitely be sitting the GAMSAT in September and March next year.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2021, 03:00:45 am by Billuminati »
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2021, 12:47:32 am »
+3
Now is officially the halfway point through hell month, have anatomy (BMS2011) and biochem (BMS2021) exams out of the way now. Still have physiology (BMS2031) on Friday and chem (CHM2911) next Tuesday to go. Low key panicking for chem cuz itís closed book.
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

laura_

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2021, 06:00:57 pm »
0
Good luck with the exams left to go! Are they in person this semester?
she/her

2020: Biology [43]
2021: Chem, Spec, Methods, Lit, HDS101 [HD], HDS106

2022: Speech Pathology?

Stormbreaker-X

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2021, 06:18:59 pm »
0
All the best, we will be supporting you on the sidelines :)
VCE 2021.
Goals:
Economics 50 RAW (Fingers crossed)
Also check out:
https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=193174.msg1182903#msg1182903

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2021, 08:30:34 pm »
0
Good luck with the exams left to go! Are they in person this semester?

Due to rona they all got moved off campus, so for closed book exams we need our microphones and webcams on our laptops turned on.
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2021, 09:15:28 pm »
+2
Update: Exams are officially over now, just finished my chem exam. I will be writing the unit reviews for the subjects I did this semester (BMS2011, BMS2021, BMS2031 and CHM2911) starting now. Please stay tuned for the Monash subject review board.
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2021, 04:23:37 pm »
+3
I've finally put in my timetable preferences an hour before they closed at 9AM, now I'll move on to writing those unit reviews for the subject review megathread.
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2021, 11:52:29 am »
+6
Update: I found a hack that allows you to see your timetable on Allocate+ a day early. You go to the my timetable tile on My Monash and click the "next week" button a few times, but it won't let you change your allocations until tomorrow morning

So far I have classes on Monday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and all of Thursday (most Thursdays aren't actually full days due to some labs not running every week or running as Zoom classes), but I might make that all of Tuesday and all of Thursday instead. Alternatively I can move my Thursday morning genetics lab to Wednesday afternoon (which was a highly in demand session) and have a full Tuesday, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday afternoons.

PS I'm posting my BMS2021 review tonight, and CHM2911 review tomorrow night. In the mean time, if any 1st year biomedder want a Y1 S2 survival guide, please head to the links below:

BMS1042: https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1148977#msg1148977
BMS1052: https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1148978#msg1148978
BMS1062: https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1148979#msg1148979
And for those of you doing CHM1022/1052: https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1148980#msg1148980
« Last Edit: July 05, 2021, 12:20:39 pm by Billuminati »
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2021, 10:25:13 am »
0
It turns out I had more stuff to rant about in BMS2021 than I initially thought, so I'm posting both BMS2021 and CHM2911 reviews this afternoon or tonight. On the bright side, I've just secured my perfect timetable exactly as planned on Allocate+.
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2021, 08:01:40 am »
+2
Alright, as promised, I have posted reviews for all the subjects I've taken in semester 1 2021 onto the Monash Subject Review thread, I'll link them below. My results come out in 1 day because I signed up for early SMS results release. Once they do, I'll update my final grades, my thoughts on how easily or harshly the exams were marked, as well as if I think the faculty scaled everyone's marks up.

BMS2011 (anatomy): https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1193923#msg1193923
BMS2021 (molecular bio/biochem): https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1193811#msg1193811
BMS2031 (physiology): https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1193924#msg1193924
CHM2911 (inorganic + organic chem): https://atarnotes.com/forum/index.php?topic=43048.msg1193848#msg1193848
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry

Billuminati

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Re: Bill's Ride through Monash Biomed
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2021, 08:42:53 pm »
+4
General life updates: A couple of things have happened over the past few weeks after the results for sem 1 came out:

1. Iíve registered for the September GAMSAT sitting a few days ago, itís round 2 for me and realistically Iím aiming for around 67-70. Now Iím familiar with the question styles from my first GAMSAT sitting in March, Iíll focus on getting into the exam writersí heads and write similar questions for myself to answer.

2. My unit Moodle pages just came up for sem 2, although there are no useful info on them at the moment. I was keen on watching all the week 1 lectures during O-week so that at worst Iíll only have 11 weeks of lectures to binge when SWOTVAC comes given my usual level of procrastination.

3. I was invited by the BMS2031 teaching team to attend an 1-hr Zoom call on how they could improve labs. Iím looking forward to it because Iím quite interested in education myself and this is a perfect networking opportunity for a potential PHY3990 project with Juliaís physiology education lab group.

4. At the last minute, I dropped CHM2942 because the lab content was so confusing (too many self-designed experiments with almost no hints) and the unit looks like itís not well coordinated as there are actually quizzes you have to complete inside the tutes. Normally I use tutes to reinforce lecture content, but if Iím too concerned about the quiz at the end, Iím likely to be distracted and not pay so much attention. I have enrolled myself in CHM2922 which is physical+instrumental chem because the other day in my VCE server, I was trying to answer some kidsí questions on spectroscopy and electrochem but ended up confusing myself, so I figured that I couldnít become a competent chem teacher without doing that unit. It looks like there will be a lot of maths involved, but Iím keeping my fingers crossed that it wonít require too many new skills from CHM1011.

On another note, since this marks the halfway mark through my 3-year biomed degree, I feel like Iím having a mid-degree crisis, so I decided to calm myself down by turning this journal update into a year 2 sem 1 survival guide, reflecting on what study/life habits Iím likely to change for sem 2.

General Y2 S1 observations: So for those who are unfamiliar with how biomed units work at Monash, in 2nd year 1st sem youíll be studying BMS2011 (anatomy), BMS2021 (biochem) and BMS2031 (physiology) along with 1 elective of your choice. My elective was CHM2911 which is basically an extended, 2nd year version of CHM1022 focusing on organic and inorganic synthesis. Not that long ago, anatomy, biochem and physiology were the 3 prereqs for a postgrad MD and a general consensus is that theyíre the most intimidating premed core units. Iíve found that the best way to tackle this semester is to adopt an integrated approach, or to put it more plainly, use a subject youíre confident in to steal the other subjects with overlaps.

For me, the subject I was most confident with was chem maybe from all those late night Breaking Bad binges. I used Le Chatelierís Principle I learned in year 12 (and expanded upon in 1st and 2nd year uni chem) to steal physiology, because when you think about it, physiology is basically equilibrium systems applied on a biological and macroscopic scale (homeostasis). It boils down to when you have too much of something, you don't want more of it. Likewise, if there's a stimulus that takes your body away from an ideal level of something, you'd want to restore it back to the optimal level by making a change opposite to the direction of the change caused by the initial stimulus. If you understand physiology in terms of equilibrium systems, it is virtually impossible to forget the physiological trends compared to if you memorised them via brute force. The autonomic nervous system, neuroendocrine and pharmacology stuff you learn in BMS1052 (1st year neurobio) comes back as well, so knowing how the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work is crucial (there is also overlap of this with your anatomy unit if you decide that anatomy is your most confident subject that you use to steal others).


Similarly to physiology, you can also explain large chunks of biochem away with Le Chat's rule, especially in the metabolism lecture topic which itself overlaps heavily with BMS1011, your 1st year biochem unit. The various signalling pathways and specific phosphorylation cascades introduced to you in biochem come in VERY handy in physiology as well when you're asked to explain exactly what happens when a neurotransmitter/hormone binds to its receptor and how exactly the given signalling pathway alter physiological function on a molecular scale. These pathways also overlap with other lecture topics you cover within the same biochem unit, an example would be overactive growth/proliferation signalling pathways= cancer.


Finally anatomy is the tough one which traditionally required a lot of brute force memorisation. Luckily, in physiology, they teach you a lot of anatomy because as they say, form fits function. Once you link form to function, learning anatomy will definitely be a lot more intuitive, partially eliminating the need for rote memorisation. The benefits of physiology knowledge on anatomy study is reciprocated, because anatomy explains some difficult physiological concepts that the physiology lecturers take for granted and donít explain adequately. An example would what muscles are active during passive/active/vigorous inhalation or exhalation, and how that would affect passive/active/vigorous inhalation/exhalation rates. All the hormone stuff in physiology and embryonic development stuff from biochem complement really well with the reproductive anatomy and embryology content. Since both the anatomy and physiology units are organised (pun 100% intended) into body systems (cardiovascular, urinary, endocrine, respiratory, digestive and reproductive), you can pretty much understand one from the other.


Another trend I have noticed is that exam difficulty is inversely proportional to in-sem assessment difficulty. For instance, anatomy which had extremely difficult lab tests had a super easy final exam (although itís closed book). Meanwhile, physiology in-sem labs and tests were all free marks, but the final exam was a killer. Despite being open-book, youíre not given enough time to check over your answers. Biochem was middle of the road both in terms of in-sem assessment and final exam difficulty, However, this doesnít seem to apply to CHM2911, because the exam was of average difficulty (leaning on the easy side) while the lab reports, assessed tutes and prelecture quizzes which were conducted open-book were absolute steals.

What I regretted: Cramming for the memorisation-intensive subjects *cough* anatomy *cough* due to missing lectures. While I was able to cram a lot of content into my brain just in time for the final exam during SWOTVAC, I still felt I didnít get the most out of my time in the unit. Additionally, falling 2 or so weeks behind in anatomy wasnít the brightest of ideas, it costed me dearly in terms of in-semester assessments where I scored poorly and I looked like a total idiot in the labs because I didnít know what I was doing.

To a lesser extent, this was also true for physiology. I was overconfident for the exam because my in-sem score for physiology was 67/70 and the exam which consisted the remaining 30% of the unit grade was open book. However the final exam screwed me over because by the time I finished the exam, I had no time to proofread/check my responses. I only crammed digestive and reproductive systems at the last minute and I was explicitly informed beforehand that these topics will be examined disproportionately on the exam by Julia, so I guess that was entirely my fault for leaving it all last minute to SWOTVAC.

I also regretted not putting so much trust in my team members for group projects, which ended up in me getting some mixed peer reviews and hard feelings. Despite one person who I interpreted was playing mind games with me in the peer reviews, Iím not about to dismiss a perfectly valid message due to a bad messenger. The other awesome group members with whom I really bonded last sem (we genuinely cared about each othersí personal development) also provided me with the same feedback that I shouldnít steal other peoplesí parts by completing everything on my own. I think Iíll come up with a better system to monitor team progress instead of assuming my group members are guilty until proven innocent.

What Iíll do next sem: I will continue to help other people on the Moodle forums because that will really help out my communication skills which is one of the criteria on the med interviews, as well as being an essential skill for a potential career in teaching. Besides, as they say, teaching is the best form of learning, if you can explain something well to someone else, you wonít have any problems explaining that you know your sh*t to the assessors on your final exam.

Since Iíve identified my shortcomings of last semester under my last heading, I feel what I need to do in order to address them is self evident. Although the solutions are pretty obvious, whether or not I can successfully implement them in practice remains to be seen, Iím confident Iím able to.

Iím aware that I didnít reach my goal of raising my WAM into the mid 90s (mine is just a tad above 92 right now), however Iíve been looking for ways that help me break that ceiling. One of the info sources I will mention a little later highly recommends spaced repetition, especially a flashcard app called Anki. I used Anki for bio 3/4, but for some reason it didnít really work well for me. Iím giving it a 2nd chance this sem, especially with the memorisation-heavy unit this sem ie microbio.

In accordance with my integrated approach, I can see that sem 2 is basically BMS1062 (biochem/molecular bio) disassembled, then amplified into 3 units, BMS2042 (genetics), BMS2052 (microbio) and BMS2062 (bioinformatics/molecular bio). My chem elective is CHM2922, which is very different from the rest, so Iím not sure if I can steal this unit with the knowledge from my other units. Most likely Iíll be using the physical chem stuff from CHM1011 to help me understand it. Iíll update this journal to give an indication of whether or not the integrated method still works for Y2 S2 (fingers crossed that it does).

I recently came across this very inspirational Reddit thread by a student-staff who once offered me some really valuable insights into how the postgrad med admission process works at Monash. This post which was announced almost a month prior to its publication inspired me to create my version of the guide for biomedders such as this very journal update, as well as suggesting some of the modifications to my study habits I intend to make this sem mentioned above: https://www.reddit.com/r/Monash/comments/ooo9gm/im_a_3rd_year_science_student_who_ended_first/
« Last Edit: July 25, 2021, 08:50:33 pm by Billuminati »
VCE 2016-2018

2017: Biology [38], Further Maths [44]

2018: Methods [37], French [38], Chem [40], English [44]

ATAR: 98.1

2019- : Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash (Scholars), minoring in Chemistry