Aug 18, 2015
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Tried, but failed to find a concise US medical school timeline and core details, mostly about exams. I'm interested in the overall structure of the study throughout the years, such as:

1. What's the exam schedule? Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?
2. When can you take exams? Are exam dates fixed per subject for all students or not?
3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?
4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?
5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?
6. Is presence mandatory for lectures, labs, etc. for all classes?
7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture? Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?
8. Are exams written, oral, practical?
9. Is taking USMLE exams required to enroll in the next years or is it just common sense to do that in order to better balance the time and effort?
10. When do you start seeing patients, 1st year, 2nd year, later? Do you start taking history, examining them immediately or is it just shadowing a doctor in the beginning?
11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions at once, sorry for that, just could not find definite answers to these and I think I can get great help here instead of trying to piece the details myself and probably get it wrong in the end... I'm also interested in links to pages that explain any of the above questions, please post these if you have them and it's easier than typing...
 

Roxas

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Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?





My serious answer: nearly all of these questions vary drastically by school.

If you sincerely want the painful details, I can write them out for you
 
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My serious answer: nearly all of these questions vary drastically by school.

If you sincerely want the painful details, I can write them out for you
Hmph... I thought this will be simpler :)

I don't really want to burden you, though I would appreciate some details if possible. For example, if schools differ in number of exams, I suppose there is a range or maybe the most common number, it will be useful.
 

Roxas

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Tried, but failed to find a concise US medical school timeline and core details, mostly about exams. I'm interested in the overall structure of the study throughout the years, such as:

1. What's the exam schedule? Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?
2. When can you take exams? Are exam dates fixed per subject for all students or not?
3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?
4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?
5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?
6. Is presence mandatory for lectures, labs, etc. for all classes?
7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture? Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?
8. Are exams written, oral, practical?
9. Is taking USMLE exams required to enroll in the next years or is it just common sense to do that in order to better balance the time and effort?
10. When do you start seeing patients, 1st year, 2nd year, later? Do you start taking history, examining them immediately or is it just shadowing a doctor in the beginning?
11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions at once, sorry for that, just could not find definite answers to these and I think I can get great help here instead of trying to piece the details myself and probably get it wrong in the end... I'm also interested in links to pages that explain any of the above questions, please post these if you have them and it's easier than typing...
Attached is my exam schedule from first year. Hopefully that helps with a few of your questions.

1. Attached. Hopefully you can see why I laughed at the notion of 1 exam per semester/year. Most exams cover around 10-15 lecture hours of material (some are only 9, some are 20). Each lecture has 30-50 ppt slides.

2. All exam dates are fixed, although I believe some professors allow for make up if illness requiring hospitalization keeps you from an exam.

3. This will vary by school. Here, you may fail up to 2 classes with a chance to remediate each one the following summer. If you fail that, you will most likely be put on a 5 year plan. Failure of 3+ classes means you repeat the year, although some of this is fluid as we have a relatively new dean who is changing things. While it varies by subject, there are almost always some who fail exams. It's nbd if you can still pass the class (70%)

4. While the classes build on each other, they are not sequential like they are in UG. If you fail a class early on in a year, you still take everything else that year and remediate at the end.

5. I think the only class so far that has had a comprehensive final was biochem (and pharm this year), and it was weighted similarly to the other exams. This will also vary by school.

6. Varies by school. Here we have optional attendance for everything but OMM lecture and all labs. Mandatory attendance blows.

7. Labs it's fine to ask questions, and rarely in lecture. Most times it's best to email the professor your question after. No need to halt the learning of over 200 people because you don't get something immediately.

8. Most exams are written (multiple choice). Anatomy and OMM had accompanying practical exams along with written. Standardized patient encounters (SPALS on my exam list) are practical/oral

9. Wut? You take USMLE/COMLEX after year 2 and cannot start rotations without it. You fail, you take it again before starting 3rd year.

10. Varies by school. As a new 2nd year I've yet to lay eyes on a real patient as part of my curriculum, but there are volunteer opportunities for shadowing, OMM clinics, and things if you want the exposure earlier.

11. Varies by school. For me, multiple semesters, yes (Anatomy, OMM, Clinical Medicine). But I won't go a year without seeing a test in a class
 

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Wow, now that's how everyone should be answering questions! Thanks so much O Grady! I'll now go into the woods and digest this one by one...
 
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Tried, but failed to find a concise US medical school timeline and core details, mostly about exams. I'm interested in the overall structure of the study throughout the years, such as:

1. What's the exam schedule? Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?
2. When can you take exams? Are exam dates fixed per subject for all students or not?
3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?
4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?
5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?
6. Is presence mandatory for lectures, labs, etc. for all classes?
7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture? Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?
8. Are exams written, oral, practical?
9. Is taking USMLE exams required to enroll in the next years or is it just common sense to do that in order to better balance the time and effort?
10. When do you start seeing patients, 1st year, 2nd year, later? Do you start taking history, examining them immediately or is it just shadowing a doctor in the beginning?
11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions at once, sorry for that, just could not find definite answers to these and I think I can get great help here instead of trying to piece the details myself and probably get it wrong in the end... I'm also interested in links to pages that explain any of the above questions, please post these if you have them and it's easier than typing...
Every single question you're asking is school-specific.

Medical education is "standardized" in the US, meaning all the same content is supposed to be delivered at every school, but the details on how it's delivered varies drastically. There is no one item on your list that has an answer that applies to every school.
 
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1. Attached. Hopefully you can see why I laughed at the notion of 1 exam per semester/year.
Haha, it cannot be clearer now :)

3. This will vary by school. Here, you may fail up to 2 classes with a chance to remediate each one the following summer.
3a. Let me pick Anatomy. You can fail Anatomy exam 1 and then pass exam 2, fail 3, pass 4-6 and pass the class overall or does failing one exam mean you fail the class?

3b. Say you fail Anatomy and Immunology. That means you can fail all exams (6 for Anatomy ans 2 for Immunology) and then pass both over summer + continue to 2nd year?

3c. Are grades pass / fail in your school?

7. Labs it's fine to ask questions, and rarely in lecture.
7a. IOW, lectures are passive, labs are interactive?

7b. Are lectures / labs 45 mins or it varies?
 

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Just curious, why are you so interested in the specifics of what U.S. medical education is like? Is it for some sort of research, some sort of audit, etc?
 

Roxas

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Haha, it cannot be clearer now :)


3a. Let me pick Anatomy. You can fail Anatomy exam 1 and then pass exam 2, fail 3, pass 4-6 and pass the class overall or does failing one exam mean you fail the class?

3b. Say you fail Anatomy and Immunology. That means you can fail all exams (6 for Anatomy ans 2 for Immunology) and then pass both over summer + continue to 2nd year?

3c. Are grades pass / fail in your school?


7a. IOW, lectures are passive, labs are interactive?

7b. Are lectures / labs 45 mins or it varies?
I feel like you're focusing too much on how things are at my school. I shared mine as an example, but many will be drastically different.
 

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I shared mine as an example, but many will be drastically different.
Yep. At mine, we only have 4 didactic exams this year. So instead of covering 9-20 lecture hours, each exam is more like 60-90.
 
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ndafife

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Remember, n=1 through these answers

1.My school is on block scheduling
8 weeks of class
1 super crappy exam week (1 big one on all the basic science, 1 anatomy lab practical, 1 histology lab practical, 1 big clinical skills exam, and 1 clinical practical)
week off then repeat 3 more times that year and 4 more then next year

3. You have to get a 75% on every exam to pass the block, if you fail one exam that block you can retake it during the week off; if you fail 2 exams its considered a block failure and you have to retake the block over the summer.
6. All lectures for me are recorded and are optional. Labs are technically optional (you're not technically graded on your group's dissection) but don't be that guy
7. Basically a different lecturer for every lecture, so it depends.
8. Not oral, but multiple choice, written, practical, all come up
9. I'm an M1 = not worried about Step 1, and you shouldn't be either
10. We see standardized patient (actors) already (only part way through part 1). No real exam yet. Just figuring out how to interact with a patient - what questions to ask, etc...

Tried, but failed to find a concise US medical school timeline and core details, mostly about exams. I'm interested in the overall structure of the study throughout the years, such as:

1. What's the exam schedule? Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?
2. When can you take exams? Are exam dates fixed per subject for all students or not?
3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?
4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?
5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?
6. Is presence mandatory for lectures, labs, etc. for all classes?
7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture? Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?
8. Are exams written, oral, practical?
9. Is taking USMLE exams required to enroll in the next years or is it just common sense to do that in order to better balance the time and effort?
10. When do you start seeing patients, 1st year, 2nd year, later? Do you start taking history, examining them immediately or is it just shadowing a doctor in the beginning?
11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions at once, sorry for that, just could not find definite answers to these and I think I can get great help here instead of trying to piece the details myself and probably get it wrong in the end... I'm also interested in links to pages that explain any of the above questions, please post these if you have them and it's easier than typing...
 

Goro

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At my school, we have exam blocks 3x/semester, and also smaller subject exams roughly in mid semester. Some schools have only a midterm and a final, others every week or every other week.


1. What's the exam schedule? Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?

They're fixed.
2. When can you take exams? Are exam dates fixed per subject for all students or not?

Yes and it depends upon the subject. Fail too many and you repeat a year. Fail a certain number beyond that and you're dismissed.
3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?

No. This isn't college.
4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?

You're graded on each assessment, which can be exam or non-exam (quizzes, assignments, presentations, etc). Each course syllabus states what % each exam counts towards the final course grade. it is indeed possible to fail the course prior to the end of the semester, but by that point students are encouraged to take a LOA and fix what's broken.

5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?

At our school, yes for labs, no for lectures. LECOM has required class attendance.
6. Is presence mandatory for lectures, labs, etc. for all classes?

We let student ask questions, unless we're short for time.
7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture?

Some of our classes do. YOu should NOT leave med school without learning how to do a case presentation!
Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?

Written for lecture subjects, and practicals for Anatomy, Clinical Medicine and OMM.
8. Are exams written, oral, practical?

You have to pass COMLEX before moving to 3rd year at our school. We pull people off of rotations until the pass. I imagine it's the same at all med schools. preceptors dont' like students studying for Boards when they're supposed to be reading up on, say, congestive heart failure.

9. Is taking USMLE exams required to enroll in the next years or is it just common sense to do that in order to better balance the time and effort?

Depends upon the school. UCLA throws you at patients right in year I. My kids get some patient contact in OMSI and II, but the vasy bulk of it is in years III and IV.

10. When do you start seeing patients, 1st year, 2nd year, later? Do you start taking history, examining them immediately or is it just shadowing a doctor in the beginning?

Not at my school. Some law schools have a single end of academic year do-or-die exam.
11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?

You can find med school class schedules on their websites.
I know I'm asking a lot of questions at once, sorry for that, just could not find definite answers to these and I think I can get great help here instead of trying to piece the details myself and probably get it wrong in the end... I'm also interested in links to pages that explain any of the above questions, please post these if you have them and it's easier than typing...[/QUOTE]
 

WedgeDawg

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Tried, but failed to find a concise US medical school timeline and core details, mostly about exams. I'm interested in the overall structure of the study throughout the years, such as:

1. What's the exam schedule? Do you have one exam per semester, per year, multiple per year, etc. ?
We have one exam per block per class. This translates to an exam about every 2 weeks (8 exams over 15 weeks) but they aren't spread evenly at all. Sometimes we have like 3 weeks between exams, sometimes only days.

2. When can you take exams? Are exam dates fixed per subject for all students or not?
For us, they're fixed time and date but I know other schools are more flexible.

3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?
Differs based on class. One of our classes we have to pass every exam. Another we have to get a passing average but can have individual scores below the pass threshold.

4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?
Generally you have to pass a semester to get to the next one.

5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?
For our class that only aggregate score matters, each exam is weighted approximately evenly.


6. Is presence mandatory for lectures, labs, etc. for all classes?
Anatomy lab and clinical seminars are mandatory. Lectures are only mandatory if we have a patient presentation.

7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture? Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?
Lectures are interactive to the extent that you can ask a question whenever you want. Seminars and anatomy lab are completely interactive (as in you have to participate).

8. Are exams written, oral, practical?
All of the above depending on the class.

9. Is taking USMLE exams required to enroll in the next years or is it just common sense to do that in order to better balance the time and effort?
I'm an M1 so idk but we have to take ours by a certain date and we get time off to study for it.

10. When do you start seeing patients, 1st year, 2nd year, later? Do you start taking history, examining them immediately or is it just shadowing a doctor in the beginning?
We have already interacted with real patients and we are starting history taking with standardized patients next week.

11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?
We have classes that span multiple semesters, but exams are at the end of small blocks not semesters, so the problem you suggest does not occur for us.

I know I'm asking a lot of questions at once, sorry for that, just could not find definite answers to these and I think I can get great help here instead of trying to piece the details myself and probably get it wrong in the end... I'm also interested in links to pages that explain any of the above questions, please post these if you have them and it's easier than typing...

N=1. Keep in mind that a lot of these are only applicable to my school.
 
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Every single question you're asking is school-specific.

Medical education is "standardized" in the US, meaning all the same content is supposed to be delivered at every school, but the details on how it's delivered varies drastically. There is no one item on your list that has an answer that applies to every school.
That's so funny... Or not. I thought that these things, especially the exam times, are standard across US. Hm...
 
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Just curious, why are you so interested in the specifics of what U.S. medical education is like? Is it for some sort of research, some sort of audit, etc?
I'm trying to figure out what's "expected" of a US grad to go through. You can call it personal research.
 

gonnif

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That's so funny... Or not. I thought that these things, especially the exam times, are standard across US. Hm...
None of it is standard across medical schools. I cant even say there is a similar pattern across medical schools except that 1st year will cover mostly basic sciences and 2nd year will cover most cover disease process. You will have to investigate each and every school individually to answer these questions.
 
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Excellent answer, thank you ndafife!

1.My school is on block scheduling
8 weeks of class
1 super crappy exam week (1 big one on all the basic science, 1 anatomy lab practical, 1 histology lab practical, 1 big clinical skills exam, and 1 clinical practical)
week off then repeat 3 more times that year and 4 more then next year
Ha, that's quite different than O Grady's experience!

3. You have to get a 75% on every exam to pass the block, if you fail one exam that block you can retake it during the week off; if you fail 2 exams its considered a block failure and you have to retake the block over the summer.
OK, that makes sense.

6. All lectures for me are recorded and are optional. Labs are technically optional (you're not technically graded on your group's dissection) but don't be that guy
:) I don't think anyone plans to be "that guy", but you know s*** happens!

7. Basically a different lecturer for every lecture, so it depends.
Interesting... Overall, is it more an exception for students to ask questions during lectures / labs or is it expected to just listen passively and hope you'll understand most of it?

9. I'm an M1 = not worried about Step 1, and you shouldn't be either
I'm not "worried" per-se, just want to understand the system. Otherwise, I'll be "worried" when I get surprised by something I had not known!

10. We see standardized patient (actors) already (only part way through part 1). No real exam yet. Just figuring out how to interact with a patient - what questions to ask, etc...
Okay, that is then years 2+, I guess first year is mostly for basic science, pre-clinical stuff, yeah?
 

ndafife

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Excellent answer, thank you ndafife!


1.Ha, that's quite different than O Grady's experience!

2.Interesting... Overall, is it more an exception for students to ask questions during lectures / labs or is it expected to just listen passively and hope you'll understand most of it?
1. Yeah. That is the point others tried to convey. Everybody does it differently.
2. Lab it is expected. And as I said, in lecture it depends on the lecturer. Some like questions throughout, some leave it at the end, some would prefer you talk to them outside of class
 
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Great answer Goro - I appreciate writing all the details! I see that everyone has different experiences, but it matters to know how much the difference actually can be.

At my school, we have exam blocks 3x/semester, and also smaller subject exams roughly in mid semester. Some schools have only a midterm and a final, others every week or every other week.
[/QUITE]
In other words - it's all over the place...

Yes and it depends upon the subject. Fail too many and you repeat a year. Fail a certain number beyond that and you're dismissed.

3. Do you have to pass all exams from each semester or year in order to enroll into the next one? If you fail, do your lose your semester or year and have to repeat it? Do many students fail exams?
How many can you fail in your school?

No. This isn't college.

4. Are exams conditional? Do you have to pass e.g. gross anatomy in order to be able to take biochemistry?
lol

You're graded on each assessment, which can be exam or non-exam (quizzes, assignments, presentations, etc). Each course syllabus states what % each exam counts towards the final course grade. it is indeed possible to fail the course prior to the end of the semester, but by that point students are encouraged to take a LOA and fix what's broken.

5. Are subjects graded throughout the year? When you pass the final exam for that class, is that more like 90% or more like 10% of the final mark? Is it possible to fail the exam due to bad marks throughout the semester even before taking the final exam for that class?
What's a LOA?

We let student ask questions, unless we're short for time.
7. Are lectures, labs, etc. interactive, where students can ask questions? Or is it just at the end of the lecture?
Curious - do they actually ask a lot or is it more a passive experience?

Some of our classes do. YOu should NOT leave med school without learning how to do a case presentation!
Do they require some preparation for that, for example to do some presentations?
Completely agree!

Not at my school. Some law schools have a single end of academic year do-or-die exam.
11. Are there classes that you have for multiple semesters before you are able to take the exam? How many semesters is the longest of those?
Yeah - and I know that there are non-US systems that have some exams that span 3 years. You study for 6 semesters, then take a single exam. That's why I am asking whether there's something like this in US. It looks like majority of US is much more fine-grained, i.e. exams multiple times a year.
 
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None of it is standard across medical schools. I cant even say there is a similar pattern across medical schools except that 1st year will cover mostly basic sciences and 2nd year will cover most cover disease process. You will have to investigate each and every school individually to answer these questions.
Thanks gonnif - after so many different experiences here, I think I'm getting the point :) For a US med hopeful, that seems... unnecessarily convoluted?
 

gonnif

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Thanks gonnif - after so many different experiences here, I think I'm getting the point :) For a US med hopeful, that seems... unnecessarily convoluted?
You are talking about two different things:

1) The application process to medical school, both MD and DO, is very standard and similar across schools
2) The process/style of instructing students at the 150+ MD/DO schools varies widely, even though they are training for the same/similar exams and knowledge
 
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