Portfolio Examination

Probably more than anything in Phase 1, the portfolio is something where a relatively small amount of effort can go a long way if you get the little things right. Many people don't realise that, at the end of the day, the portfolio examination counts as much towards academic honours at the end of the degree as all of the phase 1 end-of-course examinations put together! So its worth doing well!

I have proof-read countless portfolio essays over the last few years, and can spot a good one from a bad one. Please find below a few general little tips for writing a good reflective essay, as well as some sample portfolio essays, some of which were distributed by the faculty, and some of which were done by my friends.




Official Stuff
Click here to go to the part of the Medicine Program website dealing with the Portfolio Examination.

My Portfolio Tips
  • Keep in succinct - You really don't have that many words up your sleeve, considering you are reflecting on two years worth of work. So make every sentence count - if it doesn't make a point or doesn't add anything to the essay, get rid of it.
  • Don't generalise - The difference between meaningful reflective writing and fluffy rubbish is in specifics. Anyone can make wide sweeping generalisations that sound like they are straight out of a dictionary of clichés, but if you back everything up with a specific personal example, it will do wonders.
  • Treat each capability equally - Don't use up your words on one at the expense of another.
  • You are not perfect, nor are you utterly useless - Always try to keep a good balance between the positive and the negative. You're certainly not doing yourself any favours if you only talk about your bad qualities and bad experiences. But by the same token, don't make the same mistake you made in your med interview when you said that your worst quality was "being a perfectionist". If you don't talk about at least some negatives and areas for improvement, your essay will come across as fake and unreflective.
  • Keep a nice flow - While you don't want your essay to turn into a narrative, ideally you want it to have a narrative flow. 
  • Make it interesting and original - Imagine yourself as a marker who has just read a ton of these things for many straight hours. Constantly ask yourself these questions. Is it likely that someone else has written essentially the same thing that I just wrote? If I was reading what I just wrote, would I be bored to tears? If the answer is yes, then scrap it and think of an original, interesting experience or idea to replace it.
  • Forget introductions and conclusions - Even though starting such an essay is often the most difficult part, an introduction is generally not the way to do it. Inevitably, introductions and conclusions end up being generalised, unnecessary appendages that eat into a quite tight word-count. Unless you have a very good reason to have them, don't worry about it!
  • Be specific! - I'm going to say that again, because it seems to be a problem that a lot of people have.


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Matt Schiller,
Jan 8, 2010, 10:19 PM
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Matt Schiller,
Jan 8, 2010, 10:19 PM
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Matt Schiller,
Jan 8, 2010, 10:19 PM
Ċ
Matt Schiller,
Jan 8, 2010, 10:19 PM
Ċ
Matt Schiller,
Jan 9, 2010, 5:40 PM
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