Friday, 31 May 2013

End of year exams

End of year written exams took place yesterday and today and represented the culmination of year 1 of graduate entry medicine and sought to test us on everything taught since September (so 2/3rds of the pre-clinical basic sciences curriculum). To say that these exams were causing massive amounts of stress for everyone in the year would be the understatement of the century; up til now we'd only had formative exams in January which were shorter and tested us only on the modules taught during semester 1 (mostly fuzzy stuff like medical sociology and public health) but end of year exams are an entirely different kettle of fish however and would test us extensively on the anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry etc of the different body systems we've studied so far this year. And even more scarily, they actually count and failing comes with pretty terrible consequences which I don't even want to think about (though I know they'll continue to rob me of my sleep until results day).

There were 20 sets of short answer questions spread across two papers - unlike the January exams we don't yet know how many questions you need to pass to pass the year overall (yes, I'm aware our examination system is unnecessarily convoluted), but usually it's 12/20 questions. On the whole I'm not sure how I feel about how I've done. This mainly stems from the fact that the two papers seemed to be trying to test us in completely different ways and I have no idea if the marks I've gained have been evenly distributed across enough questions to merit an overall pass:

Paper 1

Not fun. I didn't like this paper one bit. Throughout the year we've been taught in a very "here are the facts, now go away and memorise them" sort of way. This is a pretty common method of teaching at medical schools from what I know and unlike with biomedical sciences, there's no expectation to do extra reading or to be able to link two distinct aspects of science and to theorise about different things. For example, in our reproductive system module we've learnt about dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and the contraceptive pill, BUT, we've never been specifically taught how the Pill can be used to treat dysmenorrhea (i.e. the "linking" of the two principles). But in the exam yesterday there was a question on this very matter.

Well, I did the best I could and attempted to apply my knowledge of how the Pill works to the underlying causes of dysmenorrhea but since this was never explicitly stated in a lecture, I have no idea if what I'm saying is right or if I'm just "inventing" science.

This paper was on general very scattered and did not correlate well with the lectures we were given - questions were thrown in haphazardly and one set of questions i.e. worth 10% of the paper, was on the brain and neuroscience (we don't get taught neuro til next year) which resulted in a desperate attempt by me to scavenge some marks by a combination of guesswork and scribbling some likely sounding stuff I'd heard on Casualty the other week. This was a pretty disappointing experience if I'm perfectly honest with you - I'm almost certainly going to fail that question and it's not a fair representation of my talents (or my classmates' talents for that matter) since we were being examined on something which wasn't even taught.

Paper 2

Right, today's paper was much better which was a huge relief. It wasn't perfect and I definitely think I've screwed up some of the more minor questions on the musculoskeletal system, but on the whole, it was far more in line with our lectures and coursework and there weren't many questions which required "linking" of two distinct aspects of science. Frustratingly, I'm doing that thing I always do when I've done an exam i.e. obsess for hours about stupid little mistakes I've made and wonder if the examiner will be kind enough to turn a blind eye to them - it's mostly one mark and two mark questions, but they all add up!

Now what?

So now it's all over and the sun is out, so I'm going to take the weekend off and try and relax. I've been free of exam stress for about 6 hours now, and it's a very weird feeling - this huge cloud of stress has been hanging over my head for the past two months and now it's just...gone. I keep feeling guilty for not revising then I remember there's nothing to revise. I have OSCEs in under two weeks so I'll start preparing for those in a few days and after that I'm sure that my neuroticism will get the better of me and I'll start going through my written notes so I can be prepared just in case I need to do resits. But I really, really, really hope it doesn't have to come to that, I don't think there are any words which can describe just how much I want to not have to go through this whole rigmarole again in a few weeks!


  1. Almost there Grumpy :) 2 more weeks, an OSCE and you're done?

    I found "osce umbrella" (a youtube channel) really useful when i did my year 1 and 2 OSCES, i definitely recommend it!

    GOOD LUCK !!