How to Study For Finals: Tips & Advice from Faculty Members

Hard to believe it, but term 1 is winding down. You are only weeks away from relaxing in your finest turtleneck, sipping eggnog, and enjoying good times with family and friends.

Image: Martin Dee/UBC Communications & Marketing

But first, let’s talk final exams and studying tips. Our faculty members have been where you are – many times before. Here’s their best advice for getting through exam season.

Tamiz Kanji, instructor 

My study tip is to acknowledge when your studying time is impactful or not. If you’re staring at study material and not engaged or you are distracted – take a break from it. Start up again when you are ready.

Brian Rodrigues, professor

Get a group of your friends/classmates and study together. Not more than 4-5 individuals. Divide the lectures into segments. Thus if you are 5 students and there are 20 lectures, allocate 4 lectures per individual. Then get each person to go through the material they learnt. Explaining material to the group really makes concepts clearer. I find the BEST way to learn and REMEMBER is to try and explain the material to your colleagues.

In every course that I’ve taken, either as an undergraduate or graduate student, I ALWAYS studied with friends. And always aced everything. Other students were always amazed that we only studied 1-2 days before any exam (together) yet were never stressed (and always had the most fun).

Ingrid Price, senior instructor

I always liked putting things into my own words – but narrowing it down to less and less words until I had a key word that I could use to remember information. Also, I love acronyms! Anything to help me remember. I am a bit of kinesthetic learner so, I used to walk my dogs and study at the same time – often with recipe cards that had notes on them that I could look at as I needed to as I was walking. Also, I used to try to study when I was most focused cognitively – so morning/early in the day was my best time for focusing.

Ali Meghji, lecturer

1) Don’t spend the first 2 days of the exam period cleaning your apartment regardless of how productive it makes you feel.

2) Think about the application of everything you study and how each piece of information might help you in the future. Once you recognize its’ utility, it’ll be easier to remember.

Michelle Fisher, lecturer

Start early! Schedule time every day to study one topic. There is plenty of time later to have a life. No, I changed my mind. This is your life so fit in a small reward here and there to keep you motivated. Go outside.

My Habits:

1) I like to listen to lectures on my tablet during my commute.

2) I also like to sit outside and study and will try to study in uninterrupted blocks of time as long as the exam i.e. 2 or 3 hours.

3) I also like ear plugs for exam writing since the clicking sound of typing and noisy air conditioning bother me.

Tony Seet, instructor

When I was studying for exams, I used the different libraries around campus. After staying at the same library for a long period of time, my mind would start to wander so I would pack up my stuff and find a different library to study. The fresh air and change in scenery would help me to refocus and it was an interesting way to see the other parts of campus

There are a number of resources available if you feel like you’re struggling to manage your workload and stress.

Empower Me: Available 24/7 to students anywhere in North America. Call 1 (844) 741-6389 (toll-free) to be directly connected to the Empower Me Clinical Response centre.

UBC Counselling Services: Their phone number is (604) 822-3811, and they’re located at Brock Hall (1874 E Mall).

If you ever feel you need support after hours, you can also call the Crisis Centre, which confidential and available 24/7: (1-800-784-2433).

UBC Wellbeing Coping Strategies Handout.

Wishing you all the best for your final exams.

– Karie Hanson, program advisor and manager



Take a Study Break, Watch a TED Talk

If you have been following our blog for a while, you might remember we highlighted a few TED Talk videos last year. These covered a variety of topics from body language to innovative science. With exam season underway, you may think watching a TED Talk instead of studying would constitute a waste of time…but hey, it’s more productive and inspiring than using your study break to watch Netflix. Today we’d like to share with you a TED Talk we found particularly insightful: Ken Robinson’s “Bring on the learning revolution!”

What are your favourite TED Talks? Share with us in the comments or on Facebook.

– Ivan Yastrebov, Communications and Marketing


Making the Most of Your Last Month as a Student


April is here already and it’s hard to believe that exams and graduation are right around the corner. This can bring up a whole slew of emotions as you prepare to transition out of university life. A Dr. Seuss quote comes to mind, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Here are a few ways to help you move forward in the final weeks and month of your degree:

1. Attend AMS Block Party

You’ve worked hard in all of your classes and deserve a reward! What better way than to celebrate with your friends at the AMS’ Block Party? Tickets are sold out, but there are still some people selling theirs through different outlets – check out UBC Facebook groups and Craigslist.

2. Keep in Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with the people whom you have grown close to over the past couple of years. This will help you maintain a sense of normalcy as you transition into a new chapter in life. Your friends and loved ones will also be able to help you adjust to any life changes that are happening such as finding a new job or housing.

Bonus: While keeping in touch with your friends and classmates is important, there are also many benefits to keeping in touch with the Faculty through the Alumni office!

3. Make Plans for Your Future

While it may be hard to leave your time at Pharm Sci behind, taking the time now to plan for the future will make life easier moving forward. Not only will it help logistically, but emotionally you will begin to tie up loose ends and get excited about a new chapter in your life.

4. Plan a trip

Instead of jumping into full-time work, think about taking some time off to travel and relax. Whether it’s for a week, a month, or longer, it will be a great adventure and will help you process the life changes that you are going through. Need an idea for a trip? Check out this USA road trip that was mapped using genetic algorithms.

5. It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

While it’s rewarding to plan the next chapter of your life, there is still another month left before graduation. Make the most of it by reconnecting with old friends, making new memories and acing those final exams!

What are some other ways you’re planning on making the most of April?

– Ivan Yastrebov, Communications and Marketing


Wrapping up PAM: A Retrospective

What a month it’s been!

As March comes to an end, it’s time for us to reflect on our campaign for Pharmacist Awareness Month 2015. It’s certainly a busy time of year for many people – and organizing a month’s worth of events has proven to be no small feat. The usual questions come to mind: What have we accomplished in the span of four weeks? Have we reached our goals? What improvements could be made in the future? But regardless of how we stack up against our own metrics for excellence, it remains of the utmost importance to keep in mind why we do Pharmacist Awareness Month.

Ultimately, we aim to make a difference through advocacy. And a key part of advocacy is recognizing what it means to be a pharmacist and sharing it with others. Today’s world demands strong co-operation, more involvement and greater responsibility from its healthcare professionals in order to serve the population’s needs. By identifying how the public perceives the profession and reinforcing the right while correcting misconceptions, we can reaffirm our role within the fabric of Canada’s healthcare system.

Pharmacist Awareness Month is an opportunity to connect students, the public, and pharmacy professionals.

At our SUB Pharmacy Fair in the first week of March, pharmacy students shared their knowledge of common conditions and the services pharmacists can provide. We found that many people didn’t know that pharmacists could be a source of information beyond medication, but were impressed to learn the depth and scope of our education! We drew crowds at the grand opening and closing events with several performances by our multi-talented pharmacy students.

During our Pharmacy Information Evening in the second week of March, we brought the future into the fold, playing host to potential pharmacy students from UBC, SFU and various high schools. Participants learned more about the UBC pharmacy program and mingled with current pharmacy students.

At our two symposiums, which rounded out the third and fourth weeks of March, we provided value to current pharmacy students by hosting interactive presentations with several accomplished pharmacy professionals. Even as students we can still be unaware of the countless opportunities a career in pharmacy can offer and these events seek to bridge that gap. Special thank you to our speakers: Dr. Wendy Leong, who discussed her unique interprofessional collaborative experiences in the community setting; and Winnie Ma and the pharmacists accompanying her, who shared their experiences and insight into hospital pharmacy.

And while these events occurred on campus, our community education and outreach programs sought to foster awareness outside of UBC. We organized several community education presentations at high schools. We also hosted a booth at Kerrisdale Community Centre and posted informational posters and information at a number of other community centres.

We hope our PAM 2015 events have brought more clarity to our roles as healthcare professionals in the community.  At times it’s been trying and at others, inspiring – but there will always be tremendous value in demonstrating to the world that we are proud and passionate pharmacy students, seeking to positively influence human health and wellbeing.

We would like to thank all the members of the PAM committee for working tirelessly on this campaign as well as the UBC Pharm Sci faculty members for their support, and of course, the many volunteers who offered their time during exams and other obligations to help make our events a success! It was truly a team effort. We can’t wait to see what the next Pharmacist Awareness Month brings!

Your PAM 2015 Co-Chairs,

Elaine Chang and Kevin Sin


What do pharmacists do? Raising awareness through UBC PAM

Community Presentation Poster

A key component of Pharmacy Awareness Month (PAM) is community outreach. Our goal is to raise awareness about the profession of pharmacy among the greater community and the work we have done in this area over the past month has pioneered the way for subsequent UBC PAM committees.

Our approach to community outreach this year has been primarily through setting up advocacy booths hosted by pharmacy student volunteers in various community centres around the Lower Mainland. These booths allow students to gain valuable experience in speaking about the profession, and also empower members of the public with a greater understanding of how pharmacists can be of service.

Our first community centre advocacy booth was held at Kerrisdale Community Centre on March 14. We arranged to display pharmacy information posters in the community centres that were unable to host a booth this year.

Pharmacy is a tremendously exciting and evolving profession and we are proud to spread the word through these community outreach projects. We want the general public to be aware of what pharmacists, as the most accessible healthcare professionals, can offer – from medication management and counselling, to administering vaccinations, and adapting and renewing prescriptions. We are also endeavouring to address common misconceptions around the safety and efficacy of medications in our community outreach work.

Advocacy ain’t always easy, but someone has to do it!

– Jeremy Antepyan and Maci Wong, PAM Community Outreach Coordinators 2015


PAM Kicks Off With Annual Pharmacy Fair

PAM Fair Event Header

The annual Pharmacy Fair is a key part of UBC Pharm Sci’s drive to bring awareness to the influence and nature of the practice of pharmacy. The Fair is hosted for one week in the Student Union Building, and comprises of twelve different activities and exhibits. Visitors will learn about various medical conditions and how pharmacists can help. The Fair is staffed by UBC Pharm Sci students – several of whom will be performing live! The Pharmacy Undergraduate Society (PhUS) are also on hand to provide information about life as a pharmacy student and answer questions.

The Pharmacy Fair finishes today, so if you haven’t already had the chance to check it out come visit us at the SUB!

– Bill Huang, Pharmacy Fair Coordinator

Check out the full timeline of events below:



A Round-Up of Our Best Health, Wellness and Study Advice

Our mission with this blog is to share content that will inspire you and help you to make the most of your time at UBC Pharm Sci. We’ve rounded up our favourite posts on health and wellness, and our best study tips just in time for midterms.

How to Ace Your Exams

Four Study Tips to Succeed

Getting Your Motivation Back

Making the Most of Your UBC Pharm Sci Experience: Insider Advice

Run the Distance – Preparing to Ace Your Exams Like a Marathon Runner

TED Talk Tuesday: Freeman Hrabowski and the Four Pillars to College Success in Science

Doing Better in School? There’s an App for that.

Welcome Back Series, Part 3: Study Spaces

A Handy Guide to UBC Cafés

How to Stay Healthy on Campus

Welcome Back Series, Part 2: Well Being

4 Self-Care Strategies to Help You Thrive

Six Ways to Stay Healthy this Flu Season

Reaching Out – Campus Resources for Mental Health

Healthy Eating and Exercise on Campus

Best of luck with your exams!

– Ivan Yastrebov, Communications and Marketing


Healthy Eating and Exercise on Campus

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl at Sprouts

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl at Sprouts

Your New Year’s resolutions may be a distant memory by now, but it’s still important to keep up with healthy eating and exercise – and not just because your mother told you to eat your greens. There are numerous benefits to taking the time to look after your physical well-being, such as an increased mood, better focus and enhanced memory (to help you ace those exams). Here are some simple ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your lifestyle on campus:


Looking for a free way to get some exercise in between lectures and studying? Take a break and go for a run! Our campus sits on the beautiful endowment lands, which also include Pacific Spirit Park. The Ubyssey have compiled a handy trail guide here.

Going to the Gym

If working out in the gym is more your style, UBC has you covered. On the lower (free) end of the spectrum there is the Aquatic Centre which boasts swimming pools and a small gym downstairs, all free with your student card. Next up is the Bird Coop, which offers a large selection of exercise equipment (and a climbing wall!) all for the low price of $30/term. Gold’s Gym in the University Village also offer a range of membership options.

Eating Out

Head over to the SUB basement for some healthy and tasty food from Sprouts. This vegetarian, student-run cafe serves delicious, healthy, local, organic and fair-trade meals throughout the day, and even provides a by donation lunch on Fridays!


Whip up healthy meals at home using the local, organic and affordable produce from the UBC Farm. Start out by sampling goods at one of the many farm markets held throughout the year. You could also enrol in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where you’ll receive a weekly box of fresh produce straight from the farm. You could even consider splitting the membership with a friend.

Any other ideas for healthy living on campus?

– Ivan Yastrebov, Communications and Marketing


Why Pharmacy? Ainge Chang’s Story

This is the last in our series of personal stories and testimonials from Pharmacy students about their experiences at UBC Pharm Sci. The deadline to apply for our new Entry to Practice PharmD program is February 2nd, 2015.

ainge“”What’s the right program for me? What should I do?”

I’m sure every student has asked this before, during, and even after his or her time at UBC. Like a buffet, the options available at UBC seem endless; so entertain these questions from my current experience as a UBC Pharmacy student:

“Do you want a profession that is constantly evolving?”

The scope of practice for pharmacists is ever changing. Pharmacists are now qualified to provide vaccinations, smoking cessation services, medication reviews, and prescription adaptations. The UBC Pharm Sci program has faculty and students at the forefront of these innovations and ensures we are kept up-to-date. I’m excited that we are advocating for practice change to optimize pharmaceutical care.

“Do you want to be constantly learning?”

There’s no hiding that there is great camaraderie among pharmacy students, especially as we learn together through trials by fire. But the learning doesn’t just stop in the classroom or after graduation. Pharmacy provides experiential learning and continuing education opportunities for students and pharmacists, respectively, to complement your existing knowledge.

Along with your medication knowledge, you’ll improve your communication skills, as you’ll encounter people from all walks of life. Compassion, empathy, critical thinking and developing a professional appearance are only some ways you’ll grow as an individual. There is no greater motivation for self-improvement than after reviewing a filmed patient counselling session and thinking, “Is that really me!?”

“Do you want to contribute to someone’s primary care?”

What has perhaps been most rewarding thus far is being able to recommend the most suitable treatments for a patient’s given condition, and then have them return to thank you for your care. Granted, I’m only a student now, but the patient encounters I’ve had in the practice lab and as a pharmacy assistant reaffirm why I am in pharmacy – and that is to care for someone.

Bottom line is, pharmacy is only one of many programs here at UBC and I can only tell you my story. Thanks to UBC Pharm Sci, I feel empowered to apply and share my knowledge about medications. If you want to work in a trusted profession, consider pharmacy. If you want to be able to apply your clinical skills, optimize care for someone, and communicate effectively (while having some fun along the way), consider UBC Pharm Sci. Remember here at UBC, Tuum Est.””

– Ainge Chang, Third Year BSc(Pharm) Student


Why Pharmacy? Anna Chen’s Story

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a series of personal stories and testimonials from Pharmacy students about their experiences studying at UBC Pharm Sci. To learn more about our program, register for the upcoming information session. The deadline to apply for our new Entry to Practice PharmD program is February 2nd, 2015.

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“Why choose pharmacy? Besides the fact that pharmacy is a rapidly changing profession offering new and exciting career options, and besides the fact that we have one of the newest and most beautiful buildings on campus (which has even made its way into locally filmed “The Flash”), I chose pharmacy because of the training (both in-class knowledge and technical skills that I apply at work), the great networking opportunities at fun and professional events, and because of the wonderful people in the Faculty.

I currently work as a pharmacy assistant at a privately owned pharmacy, where I shadow practicing pharmacists in the community, and perform technical work. Through the facts and knowledge that I have learned in classes and the communication and technical skills that I continue to gain from lab and tutorial, I have been able to begin to apply some of that knowledge in my work. I am able to see how practice is currently, but also learn about new and innovative ways that we can practice once we graduate and are practicing pharmacists.

Though pharmacy students may sometimes complain about the hours that they spend studying, that’s not all that we do. Currently as a member of the Pharmacy Undergraduate Society (PhUS) Social Committee, I have helped plan fun events such as the PhUS Gala this past November. At events such as these, pharmacy students are able to socialize and network beyond the classroom. Pharmacy is not only an intelligent and professional faculty, but a social one as well.

Lastly, my favourite part of studying pharmacy is the people that I have had the pleasure to meet. My classmates, my professors, and the staff are some of the nicest individuals I have met in my life thus far. Though each entering class of the faculty may seem large and daunting at first, throughout the four years, I know I will have the chance to get to know these wonderful people on a deeper level. Some of the closest friends that I have today are ones that I have met through studying pharmacy.

So why pharmacy? Whenever my family and friends ask me why I chose to make the switch from Science into Pharmaceutical Sciences, I tell them that it furthers my training into a new and rapidly changing field. I tell them that these people are not only smart, but they are great at networking and know how to have fun with events like Gala and at Dodgeball Night. I tell them that I couldn’t imagine going through my studies without the great support of my classmates, professors and the staff of this wonderful faculty.”

– Anna Chen, First Year BSc(Pharm) Student