top sixth form kent a levelsMore and more at Newcastle Medical School I’m finding that exams aren’t actually evil. In fact they might just be a useful learning tool- a view shared by everyone at RIC.

When used properly I’ve found testing has helped me to identify areas of study that require more attention, and present to me learning techniques which are valuable and effective. This allows me to hone my revision skills and create a solid and confident knowledge base.

Unfortunately at most schools this is not how I felt exams or tests were treated. You might get an end of term test, in which all that really mattered was the grade you achieved, after which you could move on. This was not the case at RIC. Here tests were used regularly and properly. They weren’t to be feared or loathed but appreciated for their genuine usefulness. RIC’s use of testing and reflection mirrors a lot of what I use at medical school and I am particularly thankful that I learnt these techniques when sitting my A levels.

RIC also removed from education this unecessary air of conflict and competition. As a teenage boy I don’t much like being told what to do. I found sitting my Alevels whilst repeatedly being told to do my top button up and call people Sir, really quite frustrating. At RIC, as I’ve so often said, the only thing to rebel against is education itself (which with such enthusiastic, supportive, and capable tutors seems a little bit daft). The first names used, own clothes worn, and tutors who would queue up with students at lunch meant relationships developed were ones of mutual respect (much like at university with lecturers). This meant I never felt in conflict with staff, and instead saw them for what they were, people astonishingly willing and able to assist my learning.

Competition is not king. RIC taught me this, and my time at Newcastle Medical School continues to affirm it. Learning is not supposed to be difficult, and tutors are supposed to help you. Anyone that believes otherwise is an intellectual snob. Patients will not care how arduously I worked to attain my qualifications, nor do exam boards. RIC recognises this and so creates a happy cooperative environment in which students and tutors can work well to develop and enrich themselves whilst attaining the best possible examination results, (whilst passions for subjects remain intact.)

Passionate and engaging tutors encouraged me to take a mature approach to learning that not only made A levels, dare I say it, enjoyable, but also equipped me with the skills set to tackle the challenges I have faced in my first year at medical school.

Dr Rachel Woolley also offered me constant, personalised and quality advice, guidance and support when applying for medical school. Ensuring my personal statement and interview preparation was the best it could be. For this I am very grateful.

Moving from Gravesend Grammar to RIC was a fantastic decision and one I’m very happy I made.

Conor McManaman

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