Hello everyone-I just finished my first semester at McGill so I thought this would be a good time to reflect a bit on what happened. Most importantly, I think everything is pretty much summed up in what ends up to be the exam season academically speaking.
To begin with, this exam season has been quite different to what I was used to in Edinburgh: I had many more exams. If we take into account the lab quiz which I had a few days before the official exam season began (because I thought it would count much more than it did), then I can say I had 6 in total, for 4 courses. Moreover, one of them was an anatomy lab exam, which was carried out in the style of a bell-ring: we had 70 seconds to answer 2 questions per 1 protection in the lab. In Edinburgh, since we take only 3 courses per semester, the number is cut down in half and even lower since I’ve had semesters with only 2 exams before Christmas.
And of course this follows, but I had much less time to prepare compared to what I was used to. In Edinburgh the week before exams start is quite empty: I used to spend it all on one or 2 exams. But here, I had my lab quiz at the beginning of it and my first exam on Friday, so not much time actually dedicated to studying since the actual semester ended a few days before the exam season. After that, I had very little time to prepare anything for the rest of them, which emphasises the need to stay on top of your material during the semester. I wouldn’t say that was extremely hard-some courses were easier to handle than in Edinburgh whilst others required more work and a different approach to studying. This is where that adaptation to a new education system comes in handy. I’m glad I did it since I feel I’m more prepared academically as a result.
Also, some info on grading and exam results. Grading is different, with most of the courses requiring over 85% for an A whilst in Edinburgh, we know that even getting that 60 or 70% is A LOT of hard work. Also, exam results can come back surprisingly early! I had my final exam result for one of my Anatomy courses the day after I sat the exam. And I should also mention the exam was carried out online, which I actually enjoyed since I could use my own computer and it felt less stressful. For my neuroanatomy course, the final overall grade for the course came back before Christmas. Quite fast I would say. Not that I’m complaining.
Finally, also to do with the grading system: here the grades are used to calculate your GPA. The maximum GPA can be 4, I believe, but I suggest you do a bit more research on that since in the US, or even for other Canadian universities, it may be a bit different. Even an A- can bring it down, but I would say it’s quite an interesting concept compared to the system back in Scotland. Getting 70% is hard, but anything above that is considered a 1st, without much detail I think (maybe A1/2/3 but depends).
To conclude, it’s been quite the ride, but an interesting one. I guess everything depends also on the type of courses and which courses you’re taking, so your experience may differ from mine. But nevertheless, some general points can still hold true for everyone. Now I’m just enjoying some free time (I’m actually search up jobs and internships but not attending any lectures for once) and trying to fix my sleep schedule, if there’s any. I hope you got some important details out of this post and that it may help you analyse the academic side of exchange a bit more. Happy New Year!
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