Jiwan Toor studied biochemistry during his undergraduate years at Simon Fraser University, but he knew he could use a refresher on some of the key topics. He took HMX Biochemistry as a way to brush up on his knowledge prior to entering his first year of medical school at William Carey University.
How challenging did you find the biochemistry course?
There were some parts of the course that I knew really well and I found really easy; I would say about 20 percent of the course was like that for me. But it was still nice to go over, because I believe in spaced repetition in order to really make things concrete in your brain. That’s going to be an advantage heading into medical school. The rest of the course, when we got into certain pathways and certain parts of metabolism, I hadn’t seen it in a long time It was really nice to go into that material and kind of re-learn that stuff again.
What parts of the course did you find most useful?
I really liked learning about a concept and then listening to the patients talk about their disease – that was really interesting. And then seeing the physician talk to them just contextualized their symptoms into real biology. That was really nice to see.
I think the other thing I really liked about this course, that I wish my other courses were like, is that you learn a concept in a five- or ten-minute blurb, and then you’re getting quizzed and assessed on that, and you have two chances to get that question right. So the stakes go down and there’s no anxiety, so you can actually assess yourself to learn. [This] is a huge thing for medical students, because we have to do so many questions to study for our board exams in the future. If you treat every board exam question like it’s the end-all-be-all, you’re not going to end up actually learning anything. So I liked that aspect of the course. You learn something in five or ten minutes, then you get quizzed on it. It’s really low stakes – and then there’s a really nice explanation, even if you get the question right or wrong.
Who would you recommend take HMX Biochemistry?
I think it really does depend on how many times you’ve seen biochemistry. For me it was a while since I had seen biochemistry; you see it in bits and pieces throughout your undergrad, but I hadn’t seen it in a nice, laid-out course like this for a while. So it was nice to go through the material. It still lit up those synapses that were firing in your brain three years ago when you were actually taking that biochemistry course.
Even if you did want to look into something in more detail, you had the background and framework to look into that material at a deeper level. I actually did that quite a bit – I would find myself quite often going to the internet and looking at topics that maybe weren’t covered in HMX but I could now understand because I had just learned the fundamentals.
How do you think your HMX experience will help you going forward?
I noticed that the course took a bit of a global perspective on metabolism, which was helpful from a regulatory standpoint. That was helpful for me because then I can understand the processes on a global level, and on a micro level I know how they’re regulated, I know how they’re controlled, which was really well talked about in the course. So that’s going to help me when I’m taking my biochemistry course in medical school, in my first semester – I’m sure of that.
And just that spaced repetition, even with material that I’m strong with. For instance when we’re talking about protein structure, I had seen that material a lot, but seeing it again is still helpful, it still makes that material more solid in your brain. The less things I have to study before medical school the better, because then I can focus on other material. I don’t want to say that I’m not going to be studying biochemistry as hard as my other courses, but I think that there’s going to be times in my biochemistry course where I can kind of take it easy a little bit and focus on something else.