Dr Kajal Shah gives her top tips for final year dental students
1. Make a list
List all the key topics that you will need to work through before finals – this will help you to break up your revision into more manageable volumes, preventing you from feeling overwhelmed.
You can find a helpful list at the following link: http://www.dentalcareerguide.co.uk/students/exam-revision/revision-topics-checklist
2. Time is key
Organise your time wisely between now and your finals.
Allocate a selected amount of time to each topic and ensure you have enough time to go through each topic at least once if not twice.
Try and alternate topics rather than doing one topic for a long period of time as this can be counterproductive.
Starting early will not only help you identify areas of difficulty, but will also allow you to feel much more prepared and relaxed when finals approach.
You want to leave enough time to get through all the material without having the need to cram five years of dentistry within a couple of weeks!
A key tip is to list any difficult topics or queries you may have as you revise and ensure to clarify them with tutors or other colleagues – chances are that it could easily come up in your exams or vivas.
Besides, covering all grounds means you will feel much more prepared and confident in your exam.
3. Break it up
Staring at a book for hours on end can be pretty boring and unproductive, so a key tip is to take breaks!
By taking regular breaks, you will feel refreshed when you begin a new topic and are therefore much more likely to absorb information.
Remember, everyone has a different way of revising so find the way that suits you best whether it is reading straight from a text book or your notes, revising in a group, answering practice questions or watching online videos and lectures.
4. Remembering it all
Dentistry involves masses of information that can sometimes feel impossible to remember.
If you’re struggling to remember certain facts and figures, just write it on a post-it note to help you remember them!
Other helpful techniques are mind-maps, which are great for helping to link key topics.
In dentistry, all subtopics will inter-relate and mind maps are a perfect way to help you to remember your information much more easily by being able to visualise key information in your exam by reducing volumes of information onto a concise sheet of paper.
5. Be practical
Don’t forget your practical skills.
It is easy to get held up in masses of information needed for your written exams but it is just as important to ensure your practical skills are up to scratch for your Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE’s).
Get as much practice in your clinic time or free time as possible; for example placing a rubber dam or matrix band or administering an inferior alveolar dental block.
Practice makes perfect!
Ask a tutor if you are not sure – they will more than happy to show you.
6. Final year presentation cases
Be organised and use your time wisely.
Months from finals can appear that you have plenty of time to finish off cases, but the earlier you finish the better off you will be. I
n dentistry there will always be matters beyond control which can sometimes delay treatment plans such as a fractured tooth whilst a temporary crown has been fitted, or a tooth that requires a last minute root canal treatment.
Don’t forget to take pictures as you go along and ensure your clinical records including periodontal charts etc. are all up to date.
Radiographs are also key and remember to take these when they are required, not forgetting to write up a radiographic report for each.
It is important to reason why you are providing clinical treatment as this is one of the underlying elements for finals – universities want to know you will be a safe practitioner that will provide necessary and reasonable treatment.
It is no good telling the examiner you did it because your tutor told you to! Knowing how to treatment plan is a life long skill and the sooner you perfect this skill, the better practitioner you will be for life.
7. The final countdown
In the last few days leading up to your exams, avoid trying to cram large chunks of information.
Instead go through what you should know by now by flicking through summaries of your notes and testing yourself with example questions.
This will 1) give you confidence that you know most information and 2) highlight any remaining areas that you still have time to revisit.
Don’t forget, you have passed several exams to get where you are and finals are not made to be impossible.
Universities are keen to pass their students and just want to ensure you will be safe in the real world!
Best of luck!