Should You Start Studying For HSFY During Your Summer Holidays?

Brynn OngHealth Science First Year, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

Should you start preparing for HSFY during your holidays? Or should you enjoy and “charge up” before the semester starts?

I don’t think there is a right answer to this. Everyone’s situation is different- some will be working, some will be traveling and some might just chill at home. Whatever you do I hope you enjoy the process. The truth is HSFY is going to be a difficult, stressful year no matter what and it is important to prepare yourself mentally. If you prefer to rest and charge up so that you are “fresh” when starting HSFY- that is okay. If you are feeling anxious and would like to start studying- that is okay too. Know yourself and know what works best for you.

Did I Prepare For HSFY During My Holidays?

Back in 2010, I had about 3 months of holiday before HSFY started. I did ZERO studies, read nothing about HSFY and had ZERO expectations. I flew to Dunedin 2 weeks before the semester start date, frantically in search for a place to live while learning to cook and do house chores. I didn’t even know that I had to do the English diagnostic test until 1 day before the test! Imagine how unprepared I was for HSFY! When the semester started, there were 4 lectures a day plus labs and online tests, totaling up to 16-20 lectures and 1-2 labs and 2-3 online tests per week! I was struggling to keep up with the fast pace and even contemplated to¬†GIVE UP. But I persistently work hard and eventually caught the drift of HSFY. Fortunately, I had good supportive friends and seniors that helped me along the way and made the HSFY journey more tolerable.

If I have to do Hell Science First Year all over again, I will DEFINITELY do some preparation and reading in advance. Personally, I would find it helpful to know that:

  • It will be a stressful, fast paced year.
  • Lectures should be my main study resource! Ignore textbooks!
  • Practice questions are very important especially for CHEM191 and PHSI191.
  • Good, supportive friends is a must. No toxic or selfish friends.
  • UMAT is a bitch.

When I was a HSFY student, there was no single useful online website/ blog that elaborate on the Health Science First Year course. The main reason why I created this website/ blog is to hopefully provide you a better insight and prepare you for HSFY. All the posts are self-written based on past experiences and advice from successful ex-HSFY students. If you are reading this, kudos! You are one step ahead of most soon-to-be HSFY students.

Okay, So You Want To Start Preparing For HSFY, But How? Where Do You Start?

Let’s start by sorting out your accommodation. In general, most HSFY students stay in a residential college/ hall but some prefer to stay in a flat. If you want to know more about the accommodation options- read this post. In the post, I described in detail all the available accommodation options- their advantages and disadvantages.

Things to buy for HSFY

  • Stationaries- more specifically pens and scientific calculator
  • Laptop/ tablet (if you don’t already have one)- all the learning materials including lectures are all online, so you need a laptop/ tablet for sure
  • Other random important stuff: winter clothing, good pillow, labcoat

What about textbooks? Should you get the textbooks? In my opinion, no you shouldn’t. Read this post to find out more.

Then, I recommend reading my “how I scored A+ for HSFY and got into medicine” series. It is a 4 part blog post series that describe my HSFY year in detail. The series includes- what to study, how to study and important study resources. By the end of the series, you should have a rough idea on how the year will pan out and maybe do a bit of planning.

Next, for more in-depth information about the HSFY papers, read the following posts:

Each posts elaborate in great detail on what you can do now to prepare for each HSFY paper. Pay attention to CHEM191 and PHSI191 posts as these two papers are considered the most difficult in semester 1.

If you want to look through some of the HSFY lecture notes or questions, e-mail me at These study resources are from past year students and private HSFY tutors and will be invaluable for your learning. Please don’t freak out or panic if the contents seem absurdly difficult. Remember- you haven’t been to any of the lectures yet, so once the semester start the notes will make sense. Learn what you can but don’t get yourself stuck on a particular topic.

Provided you have done all of the above, I can promise that you are at an advantageous lead in the HSFY game. Although I can’t promise that you will slay HSFY, you should be in a better position to tackle HSFY now.

If you have further queries or questions, feel free to contact me at, I will always try my best to help.

Good Luck!

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