Second year is nothing scary. In fact, its set up is fairly similar to first year, just with one day of clinical skills. Entering second year you should have a fair idea of how you work best and if you stick to that you’ll be fine. Yes, the exams can be difficult (specifically christmas) but if you just get on with it, all will be well. Study groups are without a doubt the best way to tackle this year. These allow you to gain a good understanding of all the material without having an unreasonable workload. Remember, this is your last year on campus, enjoy it! There’s plenty of time to be serious in the future.

PHARMACOLOGY (christmas and summer)

Pharm is easily the biggest challenge of this year. The new drug names and higher application of first year phys and biochem can seem daunting but it is in fact very doable. This subject consists of a Christmas (30%) and Summer Paper (51%) as well as a two week long research project (19%).

It’s a good idea to get your hands on Lippincotts (a very accessible but comprehensive book) or Rang & Dales if you prefer to do more reading. Using these books as a supplement to the lectures will put you in a very good position. Leaving pharm to the last minute is not advisable. Although cramming can be a last minute solution, it will make your exams significantly more miserable and scary if you’re facing this stuff for the first time. Make simple notes and learn the relevant phys , drug names and method of action well. Looking at past papers is a great way to focus your learning. Side effects, contraindication etc should be left to the very end if you are feeling very comfortable and are certainly not needed to pass. The summer exam is much less scary after completing Christmas. This is a subject probably best tackled alone as all you really need to do is sit down and learn it.


This two week long project is very hit and miss. It can be your best friend for making up a lack lustre christmas paper or potentially getting your name on a published paper, or else it can be the most tedious two weeks of your life. Try pick a project title that seems interesting, try pick a location thats easy to get to and try make your PIs like you. Once you produce an anyway decent version of what they’ve asked you to, you’ll be fine. It can be a great insight into research so if you get something interesting enjoy it, if you get something awful just get through it and take the marks. It’s best to get the paper done asap as not to take away from crucial study time later in the year.


The last piece of the anatomy jigsaw shouldn’t prove too challenging for anyone. Labs and lectures should do a lot for covering you. The research poster takes up most of your time when it comes to this subject and is once again luck of the draw. Those getting cranial nerves will get a much better overview than those getting something more specific. Unfortunately, you just need to get over it. Although Head and Neck can be a little more tricky than previous regions, its still about focusing on the important things such organs, muscle groups, osteology etc. The projects will give you a good idea of whats important. 60% of this exam is done outside of the written paper so you shouldn’t feel too stressed come exam week. This shouldn’t be a danger subject.


This is an exam with nothing too difficult and lots of choice. It’s a fantastic subject for a study group, particularly when it comes to hefty topics like immunology. There is scope to leave out some material in this subject with minimal risk. There isn’t a huge amount of learning and the clinical element of this paper (75%) is split between endocrinology which should be very similar to 1st year phys, biochemistry which requires minimal learning and immunology which is a useful one to learn well. It’s a very student friendly paper and the past papers provide great practice.


This exam is notorious for two main reasons. Firstly, many people leave all study for this exam to the night before – however, changes in the your exam timetable may make this undoable (believed to now be the first exam of the week). Secondly, this exam is on everything from fruit flies to nanotechnology to cancer. Whether it’s useful or ridiculous is irrelevant, you still have to do it. The key elements of this subject should be Cancer and inflammation, but there’s no guarantee the paper will reflect that. It’s best to access readable notes in lay language on each lecture series and read them consistently during your study. These notes can be accessed from past years or from your study group, just ask around. 


Neuro consists of 5 sub-subjects: neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuropsychiatry and neuropharmacology. Once again this subject is best addressed with a study group. There’s a lot of cross over between all of them, with neurophys and neuroanatomy providing a good place to start. The Neuroanatomy viva can be mostly covered through study in lab time. Neuroanatomy and neuropsychiatry are asked through MCQs and are both doable. Neurochemistry asks a question on neurotransmitters each year and is a guaranteed decent marker. Neuropharmacology is the one to watch with whacky questions being asked regularly enough, just know your basics and adapt the best you can. Lecture notes are scant for pharm and chem so attendance or recording the lecture is a good call. All in all this subject takes up a lot of time with two papers and a slot of 6 lecture weeks dedicated but its content is generally straight forward. Crossman and Neary is probably a good buy for neuroanatomy and referring to your pharmacology books can also help.


This subject is split into microbiology and pathology. Path is very straight forward and the mcqs reflect this. On the other hand Micro is extremely challenging. It’s generally recommended to try get some basics down like categories of bacteria and basic virology. Basically try as best you can with micro until you feel its too much then stop. You can pass this paper on Path and it’s certainly the easier option. Micro is however is extremely important in the long run so the more you learn the better you’ll feel in the future. Ultimately what you need to do is practice as many sample or pass mcqs as you can get your hands on. Believe it or not, these alone should get you a decent pass! Take home message is to try your best with micro, but path and sample MCQ’s will get you through no bother.


Not much to say, just show up every tuesday, pay a bit of attention, do what you’re told and you’ll easily pass your OSCE and have a fairly enjoyable time. The only downside is there’s a good bit of hanging around. Whether you spend this having a coffee or in the library is up to you but once again, second year isn’t the time to be too serious. Enjoy your Tuesday, they give an relaxed and mostly interesting insight into whats to come. If you glance at your Tally & O’Connor here and there, you’ll be top of the class, but it is by no needs a must until before the OSCE.

Basically, do your work and you’ll be fine. Second year is a great year, when you’re settled into your class and into college. Do as much as you can do enjoy that and have as much fun as you can! The pav will never be in walking distance again!

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