On the home run with the Infectious Disease (SK320) revision

Three weeks from today, it’ll be down to the final morning of the SK320 revision before the exam in the afternoon.

For a 30 point course, the volume of material is enormous with 1400 A4 pages. That’s roughly equivalent to 2000 normal Open University sized pages and doesn’t, of course, include the 20-odd tutorials with their associated notes. Some of the “read if you have time” references were even larger with HEAT running to around 3000 pages all by itself.

So what’s left to revise? Well, loads seeing as it’s been taking longer than expected to get my revision notes into shape.

I’m in the midst of phase one, in which I go through my copy of the learning outcomes and chapter summaries and add diagrams and notes from the text that seem to be missing from the summaries. Given the sheer volume of the original text, this is taking ages to do and I really need to get that done in the next two weeks before I move onto phase 2 of my revision. For S377, this took a while due to the diagrams but it’s mostly text this time around. The group this year has one very visual person who’s been plugging away running up diagrams for many of the major topics which look like they’ll be quite useful in that final week.

Phase two, which I do in the final week is reading through the enhanced summaries produced in phase one. For SK320, there are 30 pages which amounts to roughly ten pages per block – a fairly manageable amount of text to read through and, hopefully, memorise. Also in this phase I’ll be looking over the past papers and specimen exam paper. Since this is a fairly new course, there are only two past papers but in principle I could also look at the past papers of the predecessor course, S320.

One addition to phase two this time around is the part C topic which, this year, is on MERS. We’ve to research this and on the day will be asked to write a report on specific aspects of it. I’ve read over the initial research and given that it’s only a 500-600 word answer that they’re looking for, that’s probably enough to read over. What I’ve not, yet, done is sort out two potential tables or diagrams which they want in the answer.

Finally, there’s also the business of gathering together the things for the exam bag. This time, that’s fairly easy as it’s the same things that I needed for S377 which means the various coloured pencils, rulers, pens, pencils, Lucozade, wine gums and ID. Going by the quite strict timelimits on the parts of the exam, there won’t be time for a whole lot of “wine gum moments” but it’s hard to say at this point as I’ve not really looked at any past papers.

Last, but not least, is a bit of familiarisation with the exam format. As with most biology papers, this is divided into three distinct parts. The first is 10 from a choice of 12 short questions covering the whole course but not in a whole lot of detail. As always, these are a bit hit and miss but, usually, my revision notes get me through this section. The second part is the data handling question which can sometimes be done without knowing a whole lot about the course itself though it can throw you a bit if you know nothing about the topic covered. Finally, there’s the research question which this year is on MERS. I’m not really keen on that type of question as you could do loads of research and find that they asked something that you didn’t cover or you could do a very basic amount and find that it was on exactly what you’d read.

Marks-wise, if you’ve passed the assignments, the overall course mark is entirely dependent on the exam mark. That in turn is broken down with 50% on the short questions and 25% each for the data handling and research questions. The research question has a peculiar marking scheme: 1 mark for a title of up to 10 words, 2 for an abstract of up to 40 words, 2 each for your introduction and conclusion, 2 for each of two diagrams/tables, 2 for the style and 12 for the content. Given that the question they tend to ask you to address usually seems to have four parts, that’s three points per part so it’s not a total disaster if you can’t answer one or two of them. Thus far, I’ve done rather well with the marks on this course and a disctinction seems within striking distance but, of course, that could change dramatically on the day.

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