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How to ace biochemistry?The best guide for 1st year

                            By Hamza Ali(CR 2nd year MBBS)

Let’s get one thing straight: Biochemistry is the easiest subject in first year. By default, that also makes it the most neglected one and hence the one that will give you most of your nightmares during the prof season. So, my golden advice to all of you: start studying early.
Before I say anything else, I must add that there is still a lingering air of doubt as to who runs the biochemistry department. Suffice it to say, no matter who runs it, your job is to do biochemistry well enough to ace it no matter who’s taking the exam. All you have to do is work smart and be regular.
The Guide:
What I’ll do in this guide is I’ll give you a few important pointers and will give you a brief review of the resources (and books) that will be available to you. So, here’s a few important tips
·        Get the syllabus outline. We use the very same one used by UHS; You can find it on the UHS website. Follow the outline religiously.
·        Figure out which book is easy for you and do it well. I’ll give you a brief review of most of the common ones but it’s important to not use too many books. Certain topics you’ll find are better written in some books than other. Choose your book(s) wisely.
·        Give ample time to Vitamins and Minerals. This chapter is by far the biggest and toughest chapter in First year. It’s very time consuming and it’s better to start studying it sooner rather than later.
·        Do a little bit of biochemistry every week. Don’t Ignore it for too long, but don’t let it take up too much time. Balance is key.

What to expect from the lectures?
The lectures for biochemistry are useful if you listen to them closely but at the end of the day, you’ll still have to read everything on your own. However, it does help if you read up the topics taught in the lecture the very same day. My advice? Listen to the lectures if you like but bring your book along. Read the topic from the book and come up with questions during the lecture. Ask those questions from your teacher. Asking a question is the best way to solidify a concept. Do this and you’ll never have to read biochemistry outside your lectures (except for tests of course).

Book reviews
1.     Harper’s: A solid book with lots of interesting things. Unfortunately, it’s almost useless for you. This book is just not worth the trouble. Most of the things mentioned are outside the scope of our syllabus and the things that are included aren’t even dealt with in adequate detail.
2.     Lippincott: Your life saver. Although this book does NOT contain all the topics you’ll need to pass the prof, the topics included in it are dealt with in a very satisfactory manner. The diagrams are very useful for quick summaries. Best chapters? The ones on proteins, Enzymes, Hemoglobin metabolism, nutrition and vitamins.
3.     Satya: Perhaps the most user-friendly book in this list. Very easy to read, very easy to remember. If you want to pass with minimal effort, doing this book alone should be enough. It has most of the chapters in our syllabus and covers them in a lot of depth. I’d recommend you to keep it as your main book during first year
4.     Chatterjee: Has a lot of informational on a lot of topics. VERY DIFFICULT to read. A bit unreliable with respect to facts and figures. BUT it does have a good MCQ section at the end of each chapter. Keep it in pdf. Can sometimes be helpful but try to stay as far away as possible from this one.
5.     Mushtaq: Saving the most controversial for last. Solid book, has almost everything you’ll need but has two major problems. Firstly, the design of the book is meh. It makes you want to stay as far away from this book as you possibly can. Secondly, Dr Naqshab HATES it. Don’t ever mention it to him. EVER. But to be fair, the book itself is really good once you get past the crappy design. And it is Dr. Shakeel’s FAVOURITE book. So, in the end, it’s your choice if you want to get this one or not.
Note: There are other books in the market (such as Hashmi’s , faiq , lehninger, Mark’s etc) but I haven’t used any of them. Truth be told, it’s better to do a few books well than briefly going through a lot of books.

Bottom line:
Biochemistry is easy if you do it right. Be regular, make sure you’ve got vitamins and minerals down and that you understand your basics well. In the end, it’s the little things that will get you to the top.

One last advice? Have fun while doing biochemistry. Ask questions and discuss them with your teachers and peers regularly; try to enjoy your work rather than consider work and enjoyment as two separate things! Good Luck!


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