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By NaPratica

Every beginning of the year is the same story. The results of the entrance exams come out and we are flooded with stories of unshakable superheroes, who have passed the most difficult tests and who make us think: “It is impossible to compete with these people.”

Yes, this is a common cycle for many people. But the truth is that passing first in a competitive entrance exam is not what everyone imagines. Those who achieve this feat, most of the time, suffer pressures like anyone else.

An example of this is 19-year-old student Rafael Lara from Minas Gerais. He was placed first overall in the University of São Paulo (USP) entrance exam this year, but if he had missed one more question in the first phase, he would have been out of contention for a place in the Medicine course – the most competitive.

Rafael Lara gave an interview to NaPrática and spoke of the psychological pressure he was subjected to, demystified the heroism of the first placed and, of course, gave tips on the USP entrance exam. Check it out below.

Interview with Rafael Lara, first place in Fuvest 2023

NaPrática: How was your education in general? In which schools did you study and what most interested you in school and in your daily life as a child and teenager?

I studied at Fundación Torino, which is a school with a humanistic approach. So I studied a lot of philosophy and literature. There was a human purpose there, to think about the world.

NaPrática: How did the desire to study medicine come about?

My desire to study medicine came later. At the beginning of the pandemic, I found out I had type 1 diabetes, and I became more interested after that. I knew I had a chance because I was never bad at math, and I think I chose medicine also because of scientific research, which is what I’m most interested in.

NaPrática: When did this project start and how was the planning at home for the mission?

I think something very important at the beginning was to give importance to self-knowledge, to understand what I needed to study more. In all, I took a year and a half of the course. In the beginning, in the first year, I delved a lot into theory. He knows? Seeing the class, really, making a summary, taking notes, to understand the theory in depth, and I did a simulation a week.

NaPrática: Did it help in the test?

I took the exam in the first year and I didn’t pass. I realized that I didn’t have a good test strategy and, in the second year, I started to focus on my theoretical gaps. I asked a lot of questions and, close to the test, a few months before, I started doing just the test. And this is something really important: trying to do the test at home faster, because on the day everything is different. Nervousness makes you surrender less and you take more time on each question.

NaPrática: And when taking the tests to train, did you study what went wrong?

Yes! When testing, the idea is to make mistakes. I asked questions that challenged me because getting the questions right doesn’t help. You won’t learn by asking questions about topics you already know. It’s like in life, really. When you fail, you learn.

NaPrática: And how was your study process? Cursinho, home office? What did you actually do?

That’s a tough choice. In the online course, it wasn’t working anymore, in the middle of the pandemic, because of mental health. In face-to-face sessions, I didn’t do well because I talked too much with people and that got in my way. So I needed to balance. Ninety percent of the time I stayed at home, and the rest I spent at the preparatory course.

InPrática: Medicine is a course that demands an almost perfect entrance exam, that is, that it does well in all disciplines. But if you could name one part of the proof that was most important, what would it be?

In Medicine, the cutoff score was 81 questions. A tip for those who want to do well is to try to stay well above the cut-off point. In my case, I stayed exactly in the cut and had to do really well in the second phase. Another important point is that Fuvest, in a way, gives a very high weight to the Language test. Writing and Portuguese language are very important and people’s grades tend to be bad on these tests. And, in addition, it is necessary to answer the questions completely in the second phase, which is an essay. The candidate needs to answer the question and demonstrate how he arrived at the answer.

In Practice: Many students report physical and emotional exhaustion during the pre-university year. How did you handle this situation? Do you think it had effects on your health today?

In my case, I didn’t think I was going to pass, much less I thought I was going to pass first. In the end, what bothered me the most was the fact that studying for the entrance exam is a cost that demands a lot of dedication and is very lonely. I spent many hours alone here in my room. It’s important to be very careful so that wear doesn’t overwhelm you.

In Practice: And how did you do it?

I believe that life has three pillars when studying: the academic, the emotional and the physical. One of them will always be more atrophied. As I have diabetes, I need to take care of myself a lot and, therefore, I did not give up physical exercise and sleep at all. I slept nine hours a day.

Now, in the social pillar, I was very worn out. I tried to overcome this with the help of music. And when I couldn’t do it anymore, I’d go out with someone for ice cream. Taking a vacation, too, in the middle of my studies, helped me a lot. But, from ENEM onwards, I was very anxious and each test made me even more anxious.

After the first phase I returned to Belo Horizonte crying. And, for the second phase, I began to mature the idea that it would not pass. In the end, I think it’s important to say that I was lucky. The entrance exam demands dedication and a little luck too.

NaPrática: Do you consider that this process was worth it in the end? What are your expectations for the coming years?

Rafael: It was worth it, for sure. I fulfilled a dream. I trembled with happiness. I don’t have a defined vision, but I want to develop myself as a human being, to always have people from a positive personal circle by my side, people I love. And I want to impact society through research, follow the path of helping people and saving lives.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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