Medical School Exams

Last night I was taking an A&P “quiz” (it was more like a mini-exam; 25 questions and it took about 30 minutes to take for a measley six points), and I wondered if medical school exams were typically multiple choice questions or short answer and essay during the first two years.

While I am in a graduate program, the course work is MS-1 class for class with only an exception of being able to decide WHAT you want to take in certain cases. My Biochem exam was pretty much the same as is taught at UM and the Histo exam will be the same one taken at Nova. My Neuro class, Physiology, and Biochem2 classes will all be the same as at UM.
I have taken 2 major exams…all were MC with only one having a matching section to it. Frankly, I like those kinds of tests. Even if you are shakey on something by being given a set of choices you can narrow it down.
In Biochem, the prof does throw in a few MCAT style passages since more than half the class will be preparing for the MCAT once again, which is good practice I think.
Hope that helps.

Our tests seem to be mostly short answer. No multiple choice yet but sometimes theres fill in the blank.

All of our 1st year exams are multiple choice. Most of the answers are A-E selections, but 2 or 3 are “extended matching” with up to 20 or so confusers in the list. The explanation that we were given for the format is that it will help to prepare us for the boards.

In my experience, and from what I know from folks who attend several different medical schools, your 1st & 2nd years exams are primarily:
– multiple choice
– extended multiple choice
– matching
Due to the volume and need for rapid feedback, most school seem to use those bubble-selection answer sheets…run'e, through an OCR scanner & they're graded. It was pretty rare that we had any short answer questions and even rarer for an essay question. We had to write a couple of papers, generally in the more touchy-feely ethics & medical-legal jurisprudence type courses.
I think the most striking difference to me in med school exams vs the typical Ugrad exam was they style of the answer options. You know, in Ugrad, of the 5 or so choices, if you know much of anything about the topic, you can quickly eliminate 2 or 3 choices vastly improving your odds. Frequently, the info proposed w/i each choice was obviously wrong, incongruent or plainly nonsense. The distractors were usually easy to see through.
In med school, it is drastically different. There was the usual 5 or more choices, but the distractors were much much more effective!! Med school professors tend to maintain questions banks. To extend the scope of them, they write their questions such that with a subtle alteration of the wording in either the questions stem or the answer choices, any one of the choices can be correct. So, you're now selecting b/t many correct answers that are applicable to the stem, congruent in content and all make perfect sense. Your task is to select the MOST CORRECT choice…a much more challenging charge.

Thanks for the responses. On the A&P quiz, there were several “most correct answer” answers on the test, which I had never seen before. I guess I better get used to them.

We’ve only had multiple choice thus far (I’m a first year student) other than the lab practicals. The thing that gets me about these multiple choice questions is, not only are they more subtle and complex, we also get stuck with these “D. Two of the above are correct. E. Three of the above are correct.” questions, or even the “F. None of the above are correct.” So if you flat out know one or two are correct, but can’t absolutely eliminate all the others, you’re still in trouble. huh.gif Oh well.
P=MD (pass=MD) wink.gif

The tests at our school (so far) are a combination of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer essay, and matching. We have quizzes that are typically multiple choice and matching with a short answer question or two thrown in from time to time. The tests and quizzes come up far more often than when I was an undergrad. Every week we have at least a quiz or two. Some weeks three. Some weeks two exams. Exams can be long…three hours or more. Quizzes usually take 10 to 20 minutes.

QUOTE (DocToBe @ Sep 22 2002, 12:08 AM)
We've only had multiple choice thus far (I'm a first year student) other than the lab practicals. The thing that gets me about these multiple choice questions is, not only are they more subtle and complex, we also get stuck with these "D. Two of the above are correct. E. Three of the above are correct." questions, or even the "F. None of the above are correct." So if you flat out know one or two are correct, but can't *absolutely* eliminate all the others, you're still in trouble. huh.gif Oh well.
P=MD (pass=MD) wink.gif

Yep, these are called multiple multiple choice questions and can occur two ways:
-- 1st: in a list of choices there will be 4 or 5 single choices and then tagged onto the end will be a series of choices that combine choices 1~5
-- 2nd: there will be a question stem followed by 4, 5 or 6 statements and then all of your answer choices will be combinations of the 4~6 statements
How best to attack these? In actuality, these are the same types of questions, just presented in a structurally different format. And, they are the toughest of the multiple choice-style questions.
My personal strategy -- dumb it down!!!! Read the questions stem thoroughly!!!! Get a solid feel for what information is being sought. Then approach each individual answer choice (or statement in style #2) as if it were a True/False question. I actually mark 'T' or 'F' next to each one.
Now, go back to the stem and see how your T or F status relates to what the stem is requesting. If it is requesting a collection of true statements, then go to your answer choices and eliminate any choices that includes a false statement from your T or F survery. If the stem is wanting you to isolate the flase choices, merely do the opposite -- elminate answer choices that include true statements.
At this point, RARELY is there more than 2 answer choices left to choose from & most often, there is only 1 choice remaining. Generally, if there is more than one choice can select the most correct answer by which choice includes all of the statement that fit the stems criteria (all false or all true) AND do not include statements that are not applicable to the stem's requirements.
Like I said, dumb it down -- do not let the mass of text before you intimidate you! The same goes for Ugrad exams, med school exams, the MCAT and your licensing Boards.
Occasionally, you will get flustered...I learned this in Calculus!!! My solution when I get rattled or have a long string of, "Damned if I know?" questions (I have learned that that feeling of "Damned if I know for more than 2 or 3 questions in a row is an early sign of me becoming fuzzy-headed). When this occurs, I STOP the exam, close my eyes, try to clear my baffles and proceed to the end of the test and work the exam back-to-front. Of course, vignette-style question will require some adaptation to this tactic, but I simply 'change my scenery' by going backwards for a while. BE DAMNED CAREFUL HOW YOU FILL IN YOUR ANSWER SHEETS IF YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT THIS STRATEGY!!!!! Sometimes, I will jump to a point in the middle of the exam...anything to get me away from, temporarily, that section that had frustrated me. Almost always, after answering a few questions I am confident of, I can go back to the pervious area, now with a clearer head, and re-attack successfully.
Another test taking tip...if you find tha they are asking about something you are vaguely familiar with, but uncertain...leave it blank. Virtually always, there will be additional questions related to the same topic that can/will provide clues as to the correct answer choice.

Hi folks,
All exams except for the performance exams like: Doing an H & P for Physical Diagnosis were multiple choice. The lab practical exams in Histo, Gross Anatomy and Pathology were fill in the answer.
Dave's strategy for the multiple multiple choice questions is exactly what I encountered. You have to break everything down and really make sure that you are answering the question that is asked. We also had some extended matching in some classes like Microbiology and Virology.
Pathology tended to use the case-scenario. This is the exact same format that the USMLE uses for Step I and Step II. Did I mention that Pathology was the single most useful course in my medical school career. Our exams were two hours and we would have more than 150 questions to answer. You had to know the material is very specific detail but it was great stuff when it came to studying for USMLE Step I.
USMLE Step I asks you to take your basice science and apply it to a clinical situation. You may have no idea of the clinical manifestations but there was always something in the question that you could pick the correct answer with a knowledge of the basic science behind the question. The folks who are straight memorizers would crash and burn on this type of exam.
USMLE Step II asks you to use both basic and clinical science to come up with a diagnosis. Many times you may be asked for the next diagnostic step in arriving at a diagnosis. If you have been alive during third year, you should be able to answer these types of questions. Internal Medicine is your bread and butter for this exam. I totally ignored everything except medicine and still scored very high on this exam. You have to put everything together with thoughts of getting to a diagnosis in this exam.
USMLE Step III is going to ask me to develop a diagnositic plan and treat patients under a variety of circumstances. I have been reviewing my medicine and my family practice stuff because, as a surgeon, those things are beginning to become remote.
The USMLE gives me seven year from the time I take Step I to take and pass Step III. The State of Virginia says that I have a permanent medical liscence once I have passed Step III. The scores are reported back to my medical school so I want to do very well on this exam very early before I forget everything I learned in Senior Medicine.