Biochemistry for Medical Students
Overview Textbooks and References Ten-year series, OSCEs, Tests
  • Introduction
  • Syllabus
  • Timetable
  • Examination
  • Tips
  • Textbooks
  • Booklist
  • Senior's Notes

    Online references
  • Lectures - Terre Haute [Topical, Comprehensive]
  • Lectures - Indiana Uni [Topical, Comprehensive]
  • Graphics Gallery [Diagrams, No explanation]
    Links and Directories
  • NUS Biochemistry Department
  • Martindale's Biochem links
  • Past Year Questions
  • MBBS TYS Essay Qns 88-97(MS Word)
  • MBBS 2000 Pro
    Online Quizes
  • Uniformed Services Uni exams
       [5C1, 10 years, Topical]
  • Kansas Uni exams
       [5C1, 10x50 qns, No answers]
  • Temple Uni quiz
      [MCQ, 7 X 50 qns, Topical]
  • Molecular Bio, Biochem, Genetics
      [3C1, 10 random questions each time]
  • USUHS Biochem exams - by topic
       [5C1, 40 per topic per year, 10 years]

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    Category of subject: Preclinical
    Duration of posting: Entire Year 1
    Final examination: End of Year 1 (1st Professional MBBS)
      Biochem is one of the 3 main topics in 1st year medical school (the other 2 being Anatomy and Physiology), although the distinction is increasingly blurred under the new Problem-Based Learning system. If you liked organic chemistry, you'll like biochem, otherwise you may find yourself drowning in the details. Contrary to popular belief however, biochem isn't just chemical structures and pathways, but also has clinical correlation. Of the 3 year 1 subjects, it has the least relevance to your clinical years. The topics are wider and less structured than anatomy, but are more logical and easily understood if you work at it. In recent years, exams focused on the clinical aspects of biochem, and a lot less on pure regurgitation of say, entire chemical pathways. It is probably the easiest subject to "score" in, though distinctions themselves are few.
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    Official syllabus available?: No
    Main Topics:
    (1)Protein structure and function
    (2)Carbohydrate metabolism
    (3)Lipid metabolism
    (4)Amino Acid metabolism
    (5)Nucleic acid/Haem metabolism
    (6)Protein synthesis, Collagen
    (8)The genome & genetics
    (9)Molecular medicine
    (10)Membranes, Cell signalling
    (11)Neurotransmitters, Immunochem
    (12)Cancer/cell cycle
    (13)Histology now also tested here
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      As previously mentioned, my time was before that of Problem-Based Learning, so input about the new system is appreciated. In any case, the basic lecture-tutorial system probably remains mostly intact, with the occasional practical/demonstration thrown in.
      Tests are less frequent than anatomy, but the weightage is as high, if not higher, so don't flunk them!
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    Continual assessments made up a large percentage of our final marks in 1997 - 40%.
    - We had 3 tests in our time, consisting of short(section A) questions:
    - Semester I - 10 questions(10%)
    - End Sem I/ Start Sem II - 15 questions (15%)
    - Semester II - 15 questions (15%)
    Final exam
    - Timing: End of Year
    - Papers: 1 Essay paper only (in 1997)
      3 hours
      Section A: Answer all 15 short questions (3 marks, 6 mins)
      Section B: Answer 2 out of 4 long questions (20 marks, 45 mins)
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    Primary textbook
    (1)Senior’s notes - Good for only some topics, but essential (if it's not outdated yet). Got my "A" with this alone!
    (2)Lippincott reviews: Biochemistry - Easily understood, well organised, good concise review.
    NB: The department has a habit of recommending weird official texts, review critically before buying them.
    Reference text
    (1)Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations (Devlin) - Thick book used mainly as the official reference text.
    (2)Harper’s Review of Biochemistry (Rober K. Murray) - Good Reference text
    Other must-have stuff
    "Essential/Recommended readings" - especially for Prof Kon, and topics not in Lippincott (eg Genetics).
    Nice to have
    (1) Biochemistry: A case-orientated approach - Problem-based approach, expensive, but may be useful.

    Revision guides & MCQs
    - Any recommendations? ;)
    Book review sites

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    Study tips
  • Most of what is tested will be that which is taught in lecture - less out of “syllabus” material (of course, if you want that Distinction, you will need to read extra - but of the 3 subjects, this is the only one you can get a A for solely by reading lecture material) So don't skip lectures, because a lot of this stuff isn't in the textbook.
  • After each topic is completed, make a summary chart, especially for the Metab topics, and those with interconnected chemical pathways. At the end of it, you may wish to have a huge integrated chart, like the one in Lippincott, but grander. Practice drawing it from memory, at least the key steps. Note especially steps/chemicals with clinical correlations.
  • If you are studying and it looks like one big mess of equations and steps, take things easy :
    Ask, what is the point/purpose of the reaction?
    (1)start with the reactants and product.
    (2)add in any key steps/enzymes
    (3) then add the remaining steps
    Exam tips
  • Watch the time carefully, especially for section A (6 mins each) - don’t get carried away. For section A, the answer is usually short and direct. If you find yourself going round and round or it is an indefinite answer, you may be on the wrong track. Answers tend to be “inspirational”("aha!") - if you have the answer, you'll know its correct. If you're not sure about it, it's probably wrong or missing the point.
  • Section B questions will be : a long question on one topic, a question integrating across topics, or data interpretion question. Generally speaking, there will be one metabolic question, one genetics question, one from cancer/basic biochem, and one more question.
  • However, beware of spotting for Section B, not even topics - sometimes the questions are really undoable, and you are forced to do the rest (which you didn’t study for).
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