Female med student in tears studying.

Lean on His Strength and Power During Exams

This is going to be a long one. My academic journey has never truly been a smooth and predictable one – during all the exams that counted (Elementary school checkpoint, IGCSE/O Levels, A Levels, I’ve performed well, but during the term, well, it’s a lot more trust-the-process (I’m a straight D student on all non-major exams). It’s not because I don’t work hard or study, but rather because I take a long time to absorb concepts and information only really goes into my head at the very last few weeks leading up to the exams.

Once entering medical school, I promised myself it’d be different, that I’d be a straight A student and work harder than I ever have before. Spoiler alert, I did not keep that promise.

From the very first module assessment, I suffered. It felt like everybody else had adapted to the intensity of the medical curriculum almost immediately, their discussions elaborate and medical, while I was having trouble linking different concepts and pathways together in my head. This was a repetitive cycle throughout my entire first year of medical school – thinking I’d finally gotten the hang of it, working really hard, writing the paper, and then coming out of it failing (anything below a C is considered a failing mark) while all of my friends seemed to be getting A-s and B+s.

In my batch, I’m one of the only 2-3 Christians, and I do take my faith and call to love people seriously. Otherwise, I’m also not the sorts to party, or go out clubbing, or engage in that kind of activity – I did my fair share of staying home while everybody was out to study throughout the entirety of year 1.

Despite this, everybody seemed to be doing so much better than I was. Throughout each monthly module test, up until the last one before our end of year 1 exams (which, if I’d failed, would lead me to re-sit the entire semester with the junior’s class), my classmates continued to soar while I hid my grades in shame.

This was a very challenging period for me. I cried out to God, asking Him really difficult questions –

“Why have You forsaken me, Lord?”

“Why do non-Christians who live for the world seem to be doing so much better than I am?”

“Why are there people who don’t study a quarter as much as I do who are excelling while I’m slaving away at my books and not even being able to pass?”

This affected my faith as well – it was difficult to view God as a loving God who cared for me when it felt like He had all the power to reach down and fix things for me yet he didn’t.

Finally, by the time my final exam study leave had begun, I’d accumulated fails in almost all of my module exams. These exams contributed to my overall grade, and to put it simply, it wasn’t looking good for me. I’d been added to a group with all the others in the same boat as me, with performance so bad the university had predicted for us to fail the exam. It was humbling and embarrassing, seeing all my friends thriving while I struggled alone. I couldn’t find it within me to share these struggles with people because they were all doing so well, and I was humiliated. It’d be even worse if I failed and had to drop to the batch below and repeat the entire semester, that way EVERYBODY would know I’d fail.

The 2 weeks of study leave were some of the lowest days of my life. I’d alternated between slaving away at my books to sobbing and crying out to God, begging Him to help me out of this, begging for Him to somehow help me pass, despite it being virtually impossible. He had definitely pulled me out of challenging situations before, but this one encompassed a level of impossible I’d never encountered before. there was absolutely no way I’d be able to learn the entirety of year 1 medicine, it’s anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, histology, pathology etc in 2 weeks.

But I worked, & I prayed, & I worked, & I prayed, & by the time the exam day had come, I’d made peace with the fact that if I’d failed God was still good and He’d had a perfect plan for me.

And in the end… I PASSED!

I had only just barely passed the theory paper (which honestly was all I’d needed) but my clinical paper was really good, better than I could ever have asked for the verse I’d held on to during this painful, emotional, confusing 1 month of waiting was this:

2 Cor 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

No matter how impossible, cling on to Him, He’s got you. He loves you so dearly and He cares for more than just your salvation, though that in itself would be enough. He’s not someone big and scary who wants to keep you on your toes and judge and bully you, He wants you to turn to Him, rely on Him, and lean on His strength and power in your weakness. No matter what the outcome, He is good. No matter what you think, He ALWAYS knows better.

God bless you, thank you for reading.


  1. Godwin 7/4/2024
  2. Alison Hyllam 7/5/2024

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