Written by: Saba Khaliq
21st century hippies!
That’s what the millennials call us.
A bunch of drummers, in tattered clothes, razored scalps, neon nail colours, singing and tripping on streets as untamed pets.
We, in popular opinion, are over-aged thumb suckers clinging onto guardians, governments, institutions, any entity to put our burdens on.
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We, as often perceived, are gropers in the dark alleys of this sad century, eager to tag beings or bygones as the “establishment” that is responsible for all our misery and helplessness. We are the ones fed as infants at the age of 18
This isn’t entirely true, yet not utterly wrong. A tinge of truth survives in all these opinions, however bizarre, however banal. And the evidence of this truth manifests in our academy studying habits as well.
We boast of our progressive educational fields, a vast number of disciplines and inter-disciplines catered by indigenous and global universities.
We boast of our dexterity and multidimensional perspective on life harbouring unity and peace. But can we boast of our creativity and dedication when it comes making the most important decisions of our lives? Probably not!
We are trained as servants of a system that uses education as a tool of public obedience as blind as a moonless night, as dumb as an after-rain siesta.
We are trained to fit into a hole created for us even before an idea of our conception was carved in our parents’ minds.
It even makes its gory claws into our own Pakistani education system. Unreasonable age limits decided by our schools for our children have proven to be a drastic effect on our younger generation.
Rote learning even the creative segments of studies, mostly languages, is another tool used for inhibiting our mental growth and the power to question as free folks.
The entire idea of spoon-feeding reaches its culmination point when a student steps out of college and opts for a field that requires some preparation for entry tests viz. ECAT, SAT, MDCAT etc.
At this point, the academy mafia jumps on the bandwagon and begins looting the stressed out poor students dreaming of a successful future by getting admission into a prestigious institute of the state.
This culture of entirely relying on these academies operating as a labyrinthine mesh in our country has not only demoralized and stressed out students but also turned education into a hideous business.
Whenever there rises, in public and saner segments of society, a reservation concerning the role of these academies, their owners, administrators and sadly some students come rushing to defend this mafia.
The influencers running these academies, specifically the ones getting students prepared for MDCAT, have a whole lot of reasons when it comes down to protecting their interests.
The students, resembling toys in the hands of these money monsters, face defeat in the name of fake faith, induced helplessness and onerous anxiety in this game of academies. Here are a few lies the academies make you believe in in order to keep their business in tune in the season for MDCAT specifically.
Here, also, are the remedies to shatter these lies and carve your own way through them in order to succeed in your goals:
1. Key Books for Tests
The academies get their own books printed based on the syllabus issued by respective authorities for MDCAT each year as if the textbooks lack something vital for the entry test.
What could be more authentic than the textbooks printed and chosen by the educational boards of Pakistan? What could be more helpful in preparing for the entry tests that have their syllabus taken from these very textbooks?
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The students need to trust in their textbooks. Prepare every topic from every aspect from the book given by federal or your respective provincial government.
Get the lines and concepts imprinted on your mind with complete faith in your comprehension and retention. These academy-produced entry test books sets only add up to the pile of anxiety already burdening your brain in this time of perplexity.
So, do one thing! Be a bit less harsh on yourself in such a time. Invest all your energy in the already bought books and keep your mind focused on what the syllabus contains.
2. Self-devised Mock Tests
The academies go as far as predicting your score in the final MDCAT through their self-devised tests. There’s actually nothing that grave about taking mock tests.
But the giants go on liking these tests to the one that, in real, is going to determine your chances of getting into a medical or dental college or university. This pretentious and unreal resemblance between the tests begins the ridiculous game of faith.
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Nobody knows how the paper is going to be set let alone insisting on what will be included in it. Anyone who brags about knowing the topics as well as the MCQs that are important (enough to be definitely made part of the exam) is not to be trsuted at all.
The students start believing if they score well in these mock tests, their success in the ultimate test is certain. This also generates another problem.
The students focus completely on the topics from MCQs are given in these academy tests when in fact, the topics that weak with respect to the student dissolve into the unconscious, not showing up till the final test date.
3. Consuming Time for Self-study
The academies, grinding the students in a four to five-hour routine a day, compel the students to spend most of the time of a day in their four-walled cells. And even when they head back home, the targets set by the teachers for the next day and the impending series of tests ahead hardly leave behind any room or energy for themselves.
Resultantly, the time they had to spend preparing the tests individually, by working on their unique weak points, isn’t enough to indulge in self-study. Applicants appear in MDCAT as individuals and not a group of students belonging to one academy.
Self-study requires you to apply the assessment tool before hopping onto the learning tool. Assess how much of the syllabus is already pinned in your mind before starting the preparation for MDCAT.
You have appeared in the FSc examination or its equivalent. Hardly would anyone believe that nothing from these exams remains in your brain. So, go for the following pattern while assessing yourself:
- Get a past paper printed and solve it
- Check for the MCQs you attempted wrong and trace the topics that they were taken from
- Revise the singled out topics
- Take another test and repeat the same procedure with the wrong attempts
By the third assessment, you will notice most of the topics are prepared without much stress throughout the way. You will also have shortlisted the topics that can be revised a week before taking MDCAT.
4. Dodge the Distractions
Distractions can come your way as uninvited guests only leaving your whole time was wasted away without noticing. Academies, with all the massive number of students stuffed beyond capacity in a single room, can harbour these distractions.
Class fellows, their day-to-day gossips, their personal weaknesses and inability to cope with the stress will eventually lead you into their state of mind. This will distract you from the path you had to endure with patience and perseverance.
Do yourself a favour! Quit the academies or institutes that nurture this intrusion and obstruction. Go for a secluded place at your home and make it your study corner for this preparatory time.
This obviously does, in no way, mean that you must detach yourself from family, friends or the daily routine. This would just keep you more focused and connected to your paramount purpose in succeeding and serving.
5. Unhealthy Competition
Since stepping into the premises of our first school, we have been taught about the inevitability and undying value of competition particularly in studies.
We grew up believing in the myth and any person of authority preaching its divinity, not realizing that all this time, we were unapologetically wronged and played with.
Competition could have been healthy and fruitful if the losing party was not made to feel like a complete failure in front of all the contenders and if the winning party was educated on not growing all haughty and hateful after the win. There should have a middle ground.
But that idea or the slightest hunch of questioning or imagining is taken away from the students by virtue of these academies. The mere thought inculcated in the applicants that they were chosen for this noble profession and that they need to beat the highest scorer and that these two months mark the most crucial and defining phase of their existence is just too cruel for the poor souls.
A better way to avoid the tactics of stress and competition leading to a better performance is to limit your competition to yourself. Work on yourself! Mark your own deficiencies. Compete with them with an unwavering yet realistic belief in your abilities. This way, it only becomes a win-win situation for you.
6. Planning on Your Time
Academies take away the liberty of planning your own time table, suitable to your skills and priorities. A student may wish to work more on synonyms than correction of sentences.
But the academy won’t comply. The student would have to prepare the topics in the due time given by these institutes and would not catered as an individual since he/she is part of a greater system now.
Listen to yourself.
Choose for yourself.
Wind your clock yourself.
This way you will be doing justice to your time and memory customizing your time table for preparation yourself. You would hardly need any academy for that.
While singling out all these vices and their cures, one can only wish the students working day and night to fulfill their dreams can achieve what they wish.
This would of course need proper planning and management but hope and belief are the two pillars supporting your dreams all along. Keep them standing with dignity in the course of time, well beyond these demanding couple of months.
Good luck pals!