Things I wish I knew before… taking my subject papers – the LCME edition

Written by: Soh Iwin (20-E5)

Designed by: Sargun Kaur (20-E4)

“Eureka! I finally know how to study for this subject!” Well, we have all experienced this Eureka moment before, where we discover something new about a subject which we wished we had known sooner. Perhaps we were once lost as to how to study for a particular subject, perhaps we had misconceptions on how to study for it. In this article, I (a LCME student) will be sharing some discoveries I made on my subjects! Regardless of whether they are new or familiar to you, let us learn together! 

Literature: Practice is key, literally… 

Shakespeare, Austen, Albee… wait, a sonnet has fourteen lines? What are Jacobean and Regency eras? As a literature student, these were some of the struggles that I used to face in my first year of junior college. However, my chief learning point for literature is that practice is key. Unbelievable as it may seem due to it being a humanities subject, practicing in literature greatly helps you in your exams, especially in poetry, comparison essays and topic sentence generation. Not only does it help you to string your thoughts into sentences at a faster rate during the exams, it also helps you to be familiar with the common scenes and quotes that can be used. In the past, I used to regard literature as a subject where I just had to listen to lectures to sieve out the content and skills; however, it was after I took 30 minutes to understand poems that I realised I needed to speed up!

Foundation is key for chemistry with Chemistry!

“While you can play during the December holidays before JC2 starts, you should definitely revise your sciences,” was a piece of advice given by my teachers when I was in JC1, and I have come to realise that this is true! Many chapters in Chemistry are interlinked, with future chapters building on the previous ones. Thus, inadequate understanding in one may cause you to be unable to pick up the rest, and you will struggle at an ever increasing rate. This particularly applies to chapters such as Chemical Bonding, Chemical Equilibria Introduction to Organic Chemistry, with the former being a bedrock for many future chapters. So start consulting your teachers if you are stuck to prevent snowballing! 

Mathematics: One of the subjects where you can improve the fastest

… at least, in my opinion, although this may not apply to everyone! For me, I started off my JC1 Mathematics journey by merely reading the notes and doing a few tutorial questions. I did not realise that I needed a lot more practice until I barely passed my very first Mathematics test. Practising much more helped me to jump a few grades much faster compared to my other subjects. This was when the school-provided revision packages came in handy, as I could revisit the questions that I previously did not know how to do before the exams. Of course, some of my friends depended more on understanding the concepts and formulas over spamming practice questions, and that worked for them as well. Ultimately, different students require different approaches and thus different amounts of practice, and it is up to you to figure out how much you need! 

Economics: Understanding saves memory space

One cannot simply memorise 94 pages of the Market Failure notes and expect to ace a timed practice on Market Failure. Instead, truly understanding graphs can help to save memory space. This is because not every demand and supply graph in the practices will be relevant to account for the tests’ graphs and what can be inferred from them. Rather, understand why you drew each detail of the graph and what they mean, write it out, and this will help you and your marker to understand the economic analysis you are making! In the same vein, memory space may be saved when one understands the economic jargon, keywords, and when to use them, rather than simply memorizing paragraphs of economic analysis. I don’t know about you, but that’s my takeaway from Economics!  

General Paper: Traverse is your best friend

If you are someone who has been leaving all of your GP packages aside for the past few months, you may be chuckling in disbelief at my assertion. However, your GP packages (such as Traverse) do have some value, even if you only have the time to read a few key pages of them before the exams. This especially applies to your Rehearse package! Yes, Rehearse may seem daunting with its thickness, however, it provides a good summary of necessary skills such as the interpretation of some keywords for Paper 1, the types of questions that can be tested, and how one should tackle them. When I didn’t have enough time during my preparation for the Promotional Examinations, I managed to crucially expand my vocabulary for summary questions by studying the synonyms from summary answer keys in Rehearse. But of course, this boils back to the importance of starting early to be well acquainted with the different essay and comprehension question types before the exams! 

As we reach the end of this article, I would like to say that everyone has different studying methods, and these were just based on my experience with my subject combination! Ultimately, If you are stuck in a particular subject, fret not, for with hard work and a willingness to try, you will eventually find the best study methods that you are most comfortable with! 

Disclaimer: This article is wholly based on the views of the author, and may differ across different people. The views are not representative of that of the College, nor The Origin. The author also paid for all of the dishes reviewed out of her own accord, and for the purpose of writing this article.

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