The exam - and one I have not been looking forward to.
There are just so many things that they can test you on here, it seems impossible to revise everything. Some things seems to come up regularly. Cancer, and cell structural proteins - but they are both quite big subjects.
Others seem to come up at random.
The format is to do eight questions out of 12 in the first part - all of these worth 10 points. Then answer questions on a research paper that you have been given beforehand for the remaining 20 points.
Q1 is about the microfilament network. I'm better on the microtubule network, but I gave this a go.
Q2 looked horrendous, asking you to draw a sketch graph of the activation energy of an enzyme catalysed reaction. After reflecting on it for a bit though - I decided this was really just the same as a normal chemical reaction graph that I'd done in S205. I'm hoping so anyway - so tried that too. Also covered SDM and catalytic sites.
Q3 was about membrane proteins and included secondary and tertiary structure questions. I tried this one too.
Q4 was about eukaryotic nucleosomes and apoptosis. I tried this, but really couldn't remember half the proteins involved (well half is probably an overstatement - I don't think I got any of them - until I was walking down the street after the exam!).
Q5 was about mRNA splicing and the removal of introns. It also covered RNAi methods - I tried this, but again couldn't remember the relevant proteins.
Q6 was about ribosomes, and I tried this working from first principles. I knew how they worked, but hadn't revised any of the details, so I sort of shot in the dark for the explanations they required.
Q7 was about RTK signalling receptors. I had revised this - but not quite in the form the question was asking. I scratched around - trawled my memory, and guessed at some of it.
Q8 was about apoptosis and necrosis, and a bit about tumour development. I tried this too.
Q9 was about tumour development - but I couldn't remember the techniques they asked about. I think I skipped this one
Q10 was about small G proteins, RAS and VEGF. I tried this one too.
Q11 was about ageing and mitochondria. I might have attempted this - I can't remember. I wouldn't have got far if so.
Q12 was about stem cells, intestinal cells and the WNT pathway. I couldn't remember enough detail to attempt this one.
The paper is a bit of a shock to most of us. Not so many of the common topics seem to come up, and quite a few oddities come out of the woodwork in the first part. Stuff that hasn't been on previous years papers and I think many of us were scratching around for things we could answer. In the end I did manage to find 8 questions to answer, but some of them rather badly. It was good in that the first question I could answer, but then as I scanned down the paper, circling those I might try, I'd got to the last question and only ringed about 3, and some of those rather hesitantly. At the end I attempted a couple more questions as I had lots of time spare, to see if I fared any better.
In contrast the research paper seemed a lot nicer - there were a couple of questions that had to be answered with knowledge from the course, rather than digging out figures and things.
So all in all - a bit of a shock and although it was never going to be an easy paper - it was harder than most of us were expecting I think.