Getting Ready for the First Exam in Veterinary School

I will be a veterinarian in 45 months. As much as I am excited about this statement, I am also anxious to know where my 45-month journey lead me. I have just finished my third week of my veterinary school life. I am proud to say that I am surviving and still going for my dream career. The first year class schedule at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine starts at 8 a.m. and finishes almost at 5 p.m.

The first semester classes include: Gross Anatomy I, Physiology I, Microscopic Anatomy I (Histology), Immunology, Veterinary Behavioral Medicine, and Clinical Correlates. It was no surprise that the first exam in veterinary school is Gross Anatomy I, and it takes place in the third week. So, three weeks into my 45-month journey does not give me much time to adapt myself to the professional student life and to cope with the fear of the anatomy exam. Here, I would like to share my experience getting ready for the first exam (and many more):

Don’t procrastinate: One of our professors warned us at the orientation that we would receive so much information at once, as if we are drinking from a firehose. This is a fact. Procrastinating, even for a few days, is not a good idea. Not being able to catch up to the class material can create a big stress. When you go home every day, try to study what you have learned that day. Please remember, “Procrastinate can become the stress.”

Find your study group: I didn’t realize how much I knew and do not know until I joined a study group. We quiz each other over the material. Sometimes, we take turns explaining the concepts to each other. Besides studying, we also give each other emotional support because we are in the same boat; we are going through the same suffering and joy. I feel so much relief to know that I am not alone.

Make it a long-term memory: Memorization may work, but I would not recommend it as a way to learn in veterinary school. This is true for anatomy class. Instead of trying to memorize the muscle’s name, attachment and action, try to draw a relationship of the muscle group and visualize where those muscles are. This will become long-term memory that you can recall whenever you need to.

Find your learning style: For example, when I study the physiology and immunology, I like to rewrite the concept of those subjects in my own words.

Find a sleep schedule that’s comfortable for you: Veterinary school’s schedule is hectic, and you will be exhausted by the end of the day. I have to keep studying productively, so I can have a chance to sleep longer hours. During the weekdays, with the amount of studying to be done, it’s hard to get more than eight hours of sleep. So for me sleeping seven hours per night is good enough.

DO give yourself a reward: It is not easy to balance your veterinary school life and personal life. I usually give myself the Friday night off. I give myself a nice meal or watch the movie with my friends or family. Even on a random Wednesday morning, I buy myself my favorite coffee. This simple reward keeps me going and waiting for the next reward.

I have learned so much in the past three weeks, and I think that I “BTHO the anatomy exam” as Aggies will say. At Texas A&M Veterinary School, I am surrounded by strong, supportive people, from the faculty, upper classmen, and my classmates. At the end of every day, even though I am very tired and don’t want to study, I don’t give up. This is what I want to do and this is where I choose to be.