Health: studies like any other

From May 30 to June 1, Montpellier students take the competitive medical examination. It's the culmination of a first year that is reputed to be tough. It's also an opportunity to take a look at some of the preconceived ideas about health studies...

David Richard

The first common year of health studies? It doesn't have the reputation of being a long, quiet river. "Some people compare the PACES to a frightening experience where failure lurks, and from which you're not sure you'll emerge with a diploma in your pocket."says Denis Mariano-Goulart. The truth would be quite different. "Actual failure rate after two years of PACES? Around 6%".reveals this professor at Montpellier University Hospital, who chairs the jury and the PACES teaching committee.
Myth n°1 A ruthless selection process. Yet no fewer than 43% of students (including first-time and repeat students) manage to pass this reputedly difficult year, including 13% in medicine. This figure is higher than most undergraduate success rates (the national average is 39.8% - INSEE - 2016). 51% of health students voluntarily reorient themselves during the course; only 6% actually fail.
Myth n°2 It's the only way into medical studies. "Not true! 10% of 3rd year medical students do not take the competitive examination".. If you have a Master's degree or a doctorate, you can be admitted by application. On the other hand, PACES doesn't just lead to health studies. Are you interested in other horizons? There are a number of gateways enabling you to continue your studies in other areas, without necessarily losing a year.
Myth no. 3 Enrolling in a private preparatory school is a significant boost. To succeed, there's an even more effective system: tutoring. "Enrolling in a private preparatory school multiplies your chances of success by 5. Taking 3/4 of the tutoring classes multiplies them by 6", explains Pr Mariano-Goulart. It's true that the figures are close. But tutoring has one definitive advantage: it's free, and open to all...

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Tutoring: when success comes through friends

"Without tutoring, I'd never have passed the exam!There's anenormous amount of information to be acquired, and to succeed you need guidance", explains Johanna Krief. The young woman used tutoring in her first year, before becoming a tutor herself. Tutoring? "Students who have gone through the same difficulties as you and who are ready to help you". It's a free scheme, financed by the university.
The decisive advantages of tutoring include exercises co-prepared and validated by the same teachers who will be preparing your exam and sitting on the jury. There aretutors in each subject, and help is provided in the form of sessions between lunchtime and midday or in the evening. There is also a duty desk at certain times to answer questions directly, or correct an exercise..."explains Johanna.
Her advice for success: "be motivated, don't give up". And don't forget: "don't miss the tutoring pre-entry course, which lasts 15 days in mid-August, so that you're already in the swing of things when the new school year starts, and can make initial contact with the tutors".