HSFY- How I Scored A+ and Got Into Medicine (Part 3)

Brynn OngHealth Science First YearLeave a Comment

Health Science First Year Otago University- Semester 2

Welcome to semester 2! At this stage, you will see that some of your mates have dropped out of Hell Science for various reasons: poor exam results, stress overload or simply lost of interest. If you have made it to semester 2, congratulations! You are halfway there!

Hopefully by now, you have found your own effective study method.

Semester 2 is interesting. You have to take 3 core subjects- HUBS192, BIOC192 and HEAL192.

However, you also have the option to take an 8th paper. My advise?


There will be a long list of paper options (refer to Otago website) that you can choose from for your 8th paper. Obviously, this means more work and less time in semester 2- but is is well worth it.


Health Science First Year (HSFY) course takes into consideration your best 7 subjects only. So if you take the 7 core subjects (HUBS191, CELS191, CHEM191, PHSI191, HUBS192, BIOC192 and HEAL192), then your overall grade in HSFY depend on the marks of these 7 subjects. BUT if you have 8 papers (7 core papers + 1 optional paper), then you have one “backup” paper in case you screw up one of the core papers (you still need to pass ALL the core papers though)

The core paper that most people do terribly at is HEAL192- Foundations of Epidemiology (What a f#$king hard paper!)

*Note: HEAL192 subject title has changed to PUBH192, relatively similar content*

I took BSNS104 as my 8th paper- the best decision ever. I will talk more about this in the next post.

In this post, I will elaborate in detail- how I studied for each subject, the mistakes I made, what I could have done better, useful resources and personal recommendations for each subject in HSFY semester 2.

HUBS 192

The study of human anatomy and physiology. To take this paper you need to pass HUBS191.

How I studied for HUBS192

  • Basically at this stage I know the study method that works for me
  • I just repeated the same thing as I did for semester 1
    • Printed off the lecture slides before the lecture, attended all the lectures and focus 100% on listening, understanding and annotating the printed slides.
    • Memorise, memorise, memorise from the printed lecture slides
    • Practise past year questions
  • I must confess- I was feeling very confident with HUBS192 after my HUBS191 results (95%) and did not work as hard as I did for HUBS191
    • I was TOO confident- spent less time on HUBS192 and as a result I did not do so well for both term tests
    • Like PHSI191- I put more effort and focus on HUBS192 in second half of the semester and scored pretty good for the finals.

For labs and GLMs- went to all the labs, did all the GLMs with friends. Free easy marks.

Term tests- Usually intensive preparation 1 week before. By using the study method above, I typically revised 3-4 lectures a day, then attempt to revise ALL the lectures one day before exam.

Finals- Similar to how I prepare for term tests, except that I will do ALL the past year questions.

Mistakes I made 

  • TOO confident and TOO comfortable with HUBS192
  • Skipped some lectures

Useful Resources

  • Lecture slides- your staple study material
  • Aptitute- HUBS192 notes written by A+ medical students. Purchase from university book store
  • Past year exam papers- do ALL of them

Personal Recommendations

HUBS191 and HUBS192 are very similar. Therefore, I personally recommend

BIOC 192

The study of human biochemistry. To take this paper you need to pass CHEM191.

How I studied for BIOC192

  • Basically the same as HUBS192.
    • BIOC192 has more depth– I found that you actually need to understand each topic properly and not just blindly memorise all the lecture slides.
    • The lecture slides contain lots of examples- you don’t have to study all (can be very complex). Refer to lecture objectives to see which examples they want you to know.
    • Labs and GLMs are very important– 20% of the exam marks are based on lab contents and GLMs
    • Definitely attend BIOC192 revision tutorials organised by the department- very useful content + exam hints

For labs, blackboard tests, GLMs- went to all the labs, did all the blackboard tests and did all the GLMs with friends. Pay attention in lab and know what is going on. They will be assessed in exams!

Term tests- You have a pool of hundreds and hundreds of MCQs given to you close to the term test date. Half of your term test questions (25 questions out of 50 questions) are from this pool of MCQs. Obviously, do all the questions in the MCQ pool, check your answers with lectures or friends and study your lab stuff as well. BIOC192 term test is relatively easy and usually students tend to do well in it.

Finals- I made sure I understood most of the concepts for most topics before memorising them (especially Tony Zaharic lectures). Most questions in BIOC192 require understanding the principles and applying them to different cases. If you understood these principles and read questions carefully then you will realise the questions are not too hard. Remember to study labs and GLMs!

Mistakes I made

  • Memorising everything- Not ALL the contents in the lecture slides were examinable, some of them were just simply used for examples
  • Memorising blindly- yes I still make this mistake, I should have learn to understand the content first BEFORE memorising it
  • Not doing the GLM booklets- as a result I did not do so well for my GLMs tests.

Useful Resources

  • Lecture slides
  • My notes- download here
  • Self-written BIOC192 finals answers- download here
  • Pool of MCQs for term tests
  • Past year exams
  • Practice questions on blackboard

Personal Recommendations


BIOC192 is another subject that I am very familiar with after tutoring this subject for 5 years. From my experience, students tend to do badly when they do not understand the concepts and blindly study everything. Like I stressed before- not ALL contents are examinable, you need to know which part to study (understand + memorise).

As such, I have wrote a complete set of notes for BIOC192 lectures for students. My notes are produced based on my tutoring experiences and lecture objectives. They were used for my BIOC192 tutorial sessions. You can download it below for free.

BIOC192- complete notes v2.0

I have also wrote answers to some of the questions in BIOC192 final exams. Please be aware that they are by no means the perfect answer, if you spot any mistakes, please leave a comment or contact me.

BIOC192 self-written answers

My Results?

HSFY Otago sem 2 results


Comparing these two subjects to semester 1 subjects, I would say the difficulty level is about the same. As long as you have an efficient way to study/ way that works for you then you should not have too much trouble. As usual:

  • Start early– the earlier you start, the more time you have.
  • Study and revise consistently
  • Do past year exam papers– important!

I have many, many more resources that I can share with you for free- just e-mail me at brynn1991@yahoo.com (don’t worry its not a spam!). If you have any questions, concerns or comments, feel free to leave a comment or contact me =)

Read part 4 of this series where I talk about HEAL192 (PUBH192) and the optional 8th paper.

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