Pre Med: FSc or A Levels
Dear readers! Before you start reading, let me make this clear that this blog is not a comparison between the two systems but just an attempt at helping all those faced with this dilemma in making a better choice. Among all the messages and emails I received, this was the most frequently asked and needless to say the most significant question. Trust me, I know what it is like. You are stuck at that point in your life where people will try to dictate you and pretend to know what is good for you better than you know it. However, let me make this very clear, this is your decision and only YOU get to make it. Letting someone else make it for you will be temporary salvation but you might end up blaming them for something that was your fault all along. That is where this blog comes in. Let me take you through the process of decision making step by step as I did it in my time.
1) Ask yourself if a government medical college is all you are looking for or can you afford private education?
2) Do you think you grasp concepts better than you do rote learning?
3) What grades are you expecting in O Levels?
4) Are you willing to give up your social life and settle in an environment that is very different from what you know?
5) How determined are you? How badly do you want your goal?
6) Are you willing to go through the FSc books after you are done with A levels in a time frame of just 3 months maximum?
Once you have asked yourself these questions, the choice should be pretty clear. What? It's not? Did you just think 'It is not that simple lady'? Like I said. Been there. I know.
Weigh the pros and cons. Know your strengths. If you are good at rote learning and willing to work really hard, you can end up here after doing FSc. If you crave great environment, social life and conceptual learning, believe in yourself enough to work through those FSc books after your A levels and secure excellent grades in A levels, you will still end up here. The point is, no matter which path you take, you always have a chance. No matter which path you take, all you have is a chance. So take the one which makes you happy. Take the one which in your point of view will put you at an advantage. Both paths will lead you to your goal with just the right amount of hard work and perseverance. To prove my point I will quote a few of my class fellows, who most kindly shared their experience with me.
'FSc is difficult to adjust to but it is the better choice of the two if you want to enter any govt. Med school. Reasons:
1) Equivalence of o & A levels students is pretty low.
2) After A levels preparation of Mcat is tough as the syllabus is completely different and time is short.
3) With fsc you can achieve 1000+ marks quite easily if you have resolve.Whereas with A levels 8A* in O levels and 3A* in A levels will earn you 990 only.
4) Urdu is the major obstacle in FSc in which scoring an 80% is extremely difficult even for Matric students but after O levels you can opt for Pak culture,the course of which is easy and it is almost the same as 2nd year FSc's Pak studies. Moreover the course will remain the same in both years. Finally, achieving 90+ is easy too. So that ultimately you have an edge over fellow FSc sufferers.
5) MCAT is easy after O levels and FSc as you have a conceptual approach to solving Mcqs( from O levels experience) and you have spent 2 whole years(FSc) on the syllabus you will be tested on.
6) After O levels you can easily get admission to top colleges like GCU,Fc,Punjab college,KC,LC etc.The competition here forces you to study hard.
7) FSc is comparatively less costly too
8) FSc is not ,like most say , all about cramming. Learning with concepts is the best approach to it. You should be able to reproduce all the points you have learned not necessarily in the wording of the book.
FSc demands hard work unlike A levels. Adjusting to the system is hard but a good academy or college will hone your skills to retain and reproduce data.'
(Muhammad Usama Gilani)
'I chose A levels because it gave me the freedom to study Maths as well Biology, which is not possible in FSc. I did this as I still had not decided whether to become a doctor or to go towards the engineering side. This gave me 2 more years to decide on which career path I wanted to be on. But truth be told, I still don't know why in the end I chose MBBS over engineering. Perhaps a little bit of parental pressure and the job security of doctors played a little role in my decision to join the Doctor's Side. I'm still conflicted over this decision, I'm like Kylo Ren except maybe less whinier and with shorter hair.'
(Raja Mobeen Ahmed)
'A biased answer to a biased question. Of course A levels. Hands down. Although FSc has its benefits like for example better score whereas in A levels the equivalence reduces your marks. Which is really really unfair. Plus FSc gives you more assurity of gaining admission in medical. BUT A levels teaches you how to actually study. Or study smart you can say. It broadens your mind. Instead of just aimlessly stuffing information in your mind, you actually understand what you read. And there is the added benefit that you can attempt the entrance exam much better than FSc peeps.'
'Being a topper I strongly feel that it entirely depends on your career preferences if you aim to stay in Pakistan and do medicine or engineering then FSc is a better option however if you are willingly to go abroad for higher studies or pursue your career in business or social sciences then A levels is a better option ... O levels ensures a better understanding of basic and general concepts and then when u do FSc it's easier to learn and retain the new concepts with a better grip rather than cramming them blindly ... It is advisable to opt local board for secondary education as nearly all top govt medical and engineering universities prefer FSc students and it is easier to secure admission there . The admission process requires equivalence certificates and as in A levels no absolute marks are stated so all the students falling under one grade e.g 'A' will have the same marks in equivalence certificate which results in lower aggregate marks as compared to FSc students . This combination of O levels and FSc will benefit the students in two ways firstly, O levels empowers the students to think out of the box and be accustomed to conceptual study which helps you once you are into professional studies and secondly as in FSc marking is on absolute basis, students can prove their abilities by scoring high and making their mark amongst other students.'
(Khadija Nadeem Zaman)
All the students I quoted above are Kemcolians.
Now I will leave you to your decision but before I do remember that there is no such thing as playing safe. It is a risk either way. What is written for you will reach you no matter what so decide and stick to it. May the odds be ever in your favour.
Feel free to contact me with your questions and queries.