Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Paper One

OSCEs done and dusted, it was on to the written exams today. Two papers, eight questions, all formative, so no big consequences for failing. Today's was the first paper which had four questions each with several parts to them (a, b, c, d, etc). Thing is, these kinda short answer questions are different to the questions I had before during undergrad. During undergrad, each module would have its own exam paper. Let's pretend it was a biochemistry paper. You'd cram everything you knew about biochemistry in the days running up to the exam. You'd do the exam, then promptly forget everything about biochemistry within hours of putting your pen down. Then you'd start cramming for genetics or whatever was your next exam.

No such thing here. The questions here are all drawn from the different modules studied during the course of this term, so it's all jumbled up. For example, part a could be about biochemistry, part b could be on anatomy, and so on. This is presumably to stop people selectively learning, which I suppose is necessary (you don't want a doctor who doesn't know any anatomy), but it does tend to put a bit of pressure on you. Each question is worth 20 marks and usually you need to get 10-12 marks to pass a question. Five out of eight questions need to be passed overall. So here's how I found the questions:

Question 1

Really liked this question, no problems really. Lots of medical sociology. No complaints here.

Question 2

Whoops! From the fluffiness of medical sociology to some serious anatomical theory and then some public health. I think I did alright here, but there was a particularly nasty anatomy question which threw me a bit.

Question 3

Totally FUBAR, to use military parlance. This question was split between anatomy of the nervous system (which we had a single introductory lecture on - and are due to have an entire module on next year), and questions on cancer. The questions on cancer were alright, but the ones on neuro anatomy were a total write off, and unfortunately these parts carried the most marks in this question. I didn't have a clue, and frankly you'd hope that instead of testing you on a single introductory lecture they'd test you on stuff you'd actually been taught in a comprehensive kinda way.  I think a lot of people came out of the exam feeling rather pissed off and genuinely disappointed at this question:

Question 4

Nice question here, lots of biochemistry, lots of public health. No complaints again. Certainly no need for an outraged gif at any rate.

Final thoughts

Well, Qs 1 and 4 went well enough, I think I've managed to pass them. Question 2 might have been a pass, I hope so anyway, but I won't hold my breath on Question 3. Whilst there's no guarantee that the same topics won't come up again in the next paper, the chances are that they won't. So I'll be putting slightly more effort into revising those things which didn't come up today. Really hope the second paper is nice, I don't think I can explain just how much I want to pass these exams, it'd definitely make me feel more confident in my abilities and learning techniques!


  1. It sounds as though your exam went better than mine! Good luck for the next one :)

  2. Haha- the 3rd question sounds like my first exam at med school. A whole question about the embryology of an annular pancreas, when all the teaching we'd had one it was one lecture slide!

    Hope the exams go well- I enjoy reading your blog, keep us updated! :)