More frustration on the premed toil.

Well, I had a genetics exam today, and despite taking practice tests and doing all the problems several times, I blanked out. This was our second lecture exam. I got a D on the first exam and will probably do the same on this second lecture exam.

To make matters worse, I am repeating this course. I first took genetics in the early 1980s and got a C, then I retook it 2 years ago, and got a C. Now I am getting a D. The best I could hope for is a B, and even that is a long shot. I have missed too many points to get an A.

Should I try to take a W? I don’t know if my professor will let me at this time of the semester.

A similar thing happened to me in Biochemistry II. I earned a C the first time I took it; retook it a year later, and still got a C.

Again, it all boils down to inability to recall during tests. I am currently reviewing and self-testing.

I realize that it looks bad to retake a course (from a different professor) and still not “ace” it, but I am doing my best. Obviously my best is not med-school caliber work.


I am in a different, yet similar, situation. My test anxiety is under control finally but my real life is not.

I’m opting for W’s instead of anything less than an A- …

I’d opt for the W. Whenever you are in a situation where you need to perfect a final test just to make a B or higher, it doesn’t look good. Kind of like having to come back from a 3 touchdown deficit in the 4th quarter. It’s possible, but unlikely.

Have you tried your universities testing center to see if you have an underlying problem that is causing you to go blank during exams? A friend of mine studied quite a bit for Chem only to fail the exams. Turns out he was dyslexic. Once he found out about this, he made arrangements with the university where he gets to test in a room alone with almost double the time.

When you study, have you tryed hand writing everything you learned and memorized back out? For me, I found that a combination of reading writing and seeing my own words on paper tend to help with my confidence and memory retention better. If you can, also, try to get someone to ask you test questions on the review in the back of the book or chapter, and you write back everything you remember down in bullets with explainations, and then go back and check your answers to see if you got all the answers down or not from the chapter. I personally found this very helpful, especially in my pharmacology class, where our professor had us hand write all the answers( no multiple choice) with all the drug classes, explainations and all possible mode of actions with it! I have since used this study method in my other classes, and found it to be very helpful. It definitely boosted my self confidence facter, which really helped me out on my test anxiety quite a bit.

sometimes taking 5 minutes when the exam starts and just writing whatever you remember in your head on the blank side of the paper can help. That way, you do not have to worry about that stuff because you have it written down and that leaves more room for other stuff.

This is a trick used for the Boards exam all of the time.

OMGosh - what an AWESOME idea. I will try that myself. Thank you!

Plus if I write it as if I’m telling someone else how to solve the problem… wow - great!!

Yesss, that trick does work for most classes ive tried it with. ive used it numerous times especially for things that involve formulas, lifecycles, processes, etc… Because no matter how hard I study, I also blank the minute I get my test It’s rediculous.

Thing is, Im not sure it worked as well as I wanted it to for my organic exam…I wrote down all the mechanisms, reagents, definitions etc and i STILL bombed the test. Same thing with the second one. Whats worse is that this isnt the first time I’m taking organic II and despite my two horrific grades, I refused to drop the course … ! On top of that, the kid that I study with, he got A’s twice. I guess theres something im missing…

The other trick is to practice taking questions and when you get to the exam, think about it as another practice session to calm your anxiety down.

A few other things that really worked for me:

  1. Get a study partner. I don’t mean one for the whole time in class but someone you can meet with that has the same work ethic as you. Meet with them about 2 to 3 days before the exam and go through each powerpoint slide or lecture topic and come up with questions from each slide or topic. When I did this, we hit about 90% of the questions on the exam. Some of them were almost exactly the exam question or a distractor answer.

  2. Have the study partner ‘pimp’ you on the material. Having to actively recall it, rather than read it and go ‘ok, I know that’ helps a LOT.

  3. Do a boatload of practice questions. Read the wrong answers and the explanations as to why they are wrong. Understand what is different about the answer choices to make them wrong.

  4. As was mentioned earlier, first step during exam day is to flip over the paper and write down all formulas (A-a gradient, FeNa, whatever) that you’ve covered in the material that you can’t figure out during exam time.

    You can do this. If a 46 year old, former EE with multiple F’s on his pre-med record can go back and make A’s in all the prereqs, you can do this…Get the help you need and adapt, improvise and overcome…

My physics professor, who appears to really want to help me get to med school advised…

do the problems and study the answers whether right or wrong

walk away for a day, do them again

and then do them again

Only after doing the problem sets 3x, did he say to go back and work the practice exam… and then do that one twice too.

While I have taken a W this semester and another coming up, it was the right thing for me to do. My own answer swapping, from right to wrong, anxiety is not yet under control. Best to focus on one class, get an A, work on both home life and anxiety issue, and then try again.

Thanks for all your encouraging posts. Many of the tips that were suggested I have already tried, although a few are new to me and I will try those. I always aim for A’s but rarely achieve them; it is usually B’s and lately C’s. I keep wondering what the difference is between someone like me who studies hard but gets “marginal” grades and a student who doesn’t study as much or not at all and gets the same grades. As far as AdComms are concerned, our transcripts will look the same but one of us put in great effort while the other did not. But effort doesn’t get one into medical school, and if that effort doesn’t pay off in top-notched grades, there perhaps staying in post-bacc or even attempting to go to medical school is futile.

But I am not just worried about getting A’s, I am also worried about what to do about all the B and C grades I have already received in post-bacc. I can’t change those, and I have to live with them.

Any suggestions for dealing with this aspect of the issue?

  • nahani2 Said:

But I am not just worried about getting A's, I am also worried about what to do about all the B and C grades I have already received in post-bacc. I can't change those, and I have to live with them.

Any suggestions for dealing with this aspect of the issue?

Im having the SAME issue...would be interested in suggestions as well!!

So I got my genetics test back and, sure enough, I got a D. So two D’s in a row for the first and second midterm. And I’m repeating this class. I am going to take a W in the course. Both of my study partners got A’s. I’ve noticed that the material is so much more intuitive for them than for me, and I’ve already been through this material twice before.

Another thing I have noticed is that I routinely, automatically, unknowningly mis-read or not see test questions or subparts thereof. I also had a physics test yesterday, and I didn’t do well either. I understood the material and did lots of practice problems, but for some reason kept reading the questions wrong – although I didn’t realize it until I the test was over. I kept reading numbers incorrectly, converting positive numbers to negative ones and vice versa. For example, during the test, I read the number 0.05 as —0.05 (that is negative 0.05) and I even looked at it twice to be sure that it was a negative number. So I did the problem that way; but when the test was over, I looked at the test copy once again (we got to keep our copy of the test and just turn in the blue book), I saw that the number was actually positive 0.05. Yet during the test I could swear that the number was a minus 0.05. I’m sure there are other parts to the test that I misread or skipped.

On an immunology exam, I skipped several questions that I simply didn’t see during the exam. I left several slots blank on the Scantron form (it was a multiple choice exam) but didn’t notice it until I got the exam back. Yet at the end of the exam, I spent a few minutes going through the exam to make sure I didn’t miss anything – yet, there they were – blanks left unfilled in on the Scantron form. Even the professor asked me about those. I didn’t know what to say.

Why am I misreading exam questions?

Why do I skip questions?

More importantly, is there anything I can do about them? I seem to do this without knowing that I do this, and checking the test over before turning it in doesn’t seem to find these errors.