May have just bombed first med school exam

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by AthleteDoc7, Aug 13, 2015.

  1. AthleteDoc7

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    I'm a U.S. MD med student that just started a couple weeks ago, and as the title says, I think I may have just bombed my first medical school exam. I felt like I worked hard for my entire first week and a half, but clearly it wasn't enough to truly understand and remember all of the material. it has been the most overwhelming experience ever so far, and I feel screwed now.

    I came home every night, rewatched lectures and took notes, but I guess I didn't spend enough time looking at it all multiple times until too close to the exam? I just didn't feel I had time to do anything more in the week leading up to it.

    What do I do if I bombed? try to revamp my whole strategy? I just feel lost lol, this is not how I expected things to start off. it's anatomy and histology if that helps, and histo makes no intuitive sense to me at all so it takes a lot of work to really comprehend. help!
     
  2. Jabbed

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    First off, you're fine. Use this as the learning opportunity that it is and re-examine the way that you approach the material and learning in general. Tips:

    1. Don't write notes.
    2. Set a strict schedule and follow it.
    3. If you're taking a break, you're taking a break. Don't quickly pause the lecture or look up from your book to check e-mail/fb.
    4. Don't get bogged down in a lecture and go too slowly.
    5. Preview the slides before listening to the lecture. The key point with this is to try and integrate all the information presented and draw your own analyses. I typically try and do this the day before I watch the lecture as it gives me time to passively forget some details so that they can then be reinforced by watching the lecture.
    6. Watch the lecture on accelerated speed and prevent yourself from annotating everything that the professor says. Only write something down if 1) You misunderstood it when you read through the ppts intially or 2) It's obviously important information that wasn't included in the slides. Anything that is in the slides, but you're only noticing in lecture should be highlighted.
    7. Review all lecture slides with your annotations on the weekend after you've made them. This is key as it not only allows you to review the information, but also allows you to integrate information that you've learned on Friday into your Monday lecture.

    The idea is to efficiently go through the material as many times as possible and focus your attention on things that were not immediately apparent to you or are critically important. At this point you've also completed three full passes of your lectures before you've even started studying for the exam.
     
  3. AthleteDoc7

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    thank you very much for this great response. I have noticed that it takes up a TON of time because I literally write out everything they say. a few questions...

    my power points tend to suck from my classes. they're a lot of pictures and the prof just talks about them, so I watch and write everything down. would you still recommend this approach? do you print out slides to annotate on them, or use some kind of program (notability or something)? any flash cards or just read and reread everything?

    also, I get very little from going to lecture. should I just stop going since I basically watch them all again anyway?
     
  4. Jabbed

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    It depends. My anatomy professor was infamous for making test questions out of side comments such that I had to annotate everything that he said. Having taken your first test, you're a better judge of what type of content knowledge your lecturers are looking to test on. My advice is not to necessarily skip note taking altogether, but rather to force yourself to synthesize whatever it is that your lecturer is saying such that you can summarize every slide into 1 or 2 sentences of testable information.

    If you're streaming lectures, you're probably better off splitting the note-taking between a friend or two so that each of you is only responsible for a couple of lectures. You'll get through the lectures faster that way.

    Anki is great for the rote memorization and structures. At the end of the day anatomy is very memory intensive and your performance improves only by spending time with the material.
     
  5. repititionition

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    Me:

    failed first exam, failed one or two more after that.

    finished first year well above average and crushing NBME exams.

    Don't freak. If you learn from every experience and stay on top of your sh1t, you'll be fine.
     
  6. AthleteDoc7

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    thank you for the bit of confidence. it just really sucks to start off poorly. I haven't even gotten the grade back but I expect it to be bad. glad to hear you turned it around.

    thanks again so much. my school does a program where they pay students to scribe every lecture, so maybe I'll start to focus on condensing those scribes rather than essentially wasting time doing my own scribes. I've got some figuring out to do
     
  7. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    So basically you didnt even get your test back and your worried about the possibility of failing the test
     
  8. PhillyMed777

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    One thing that really (and I mean really!) helped me is repetition. The more I went over things, the deeper and clearer things became. The more times I studied the material, the better I did. Sometimes, when i went over the same thing 5 times, I felt an "ahh" moment. Repetition helped solidify what I had, learn more, and clarify. Repetition really takes focus.

    For whatever reason, my weakest class was anatomy. But our anatomy class is so packed (and integrated with other subjects), I didn't get that chance to go over everything as often as I would otherwise. So it followed a trend.
     
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  9. AthleteDoc7

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    that is correct. felt terrible the whole time so I don't see it not being bad.

    this is exactly what I'd like to do, but what did you repeat exactly? reading notes you took? just reading slides? watching lectures? I'm still trying to find what works for me so suggestions or anecdotes may help.
     
  10. Entadus

    Entadus Happy on 5-HT
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    For me, repitition works best when it includes multiple sources. So for anatomy, my first pass might include watching the Acland videos for the topic before lecture, maybe skimming the lecture slides. Second pass is watching the lecture (at schoool or at home) and taking notes. Third pass is reading a text or review book. Fourth pass is preparing for lab with Grant's dissector. Fifth pass is seeing and touching the structures in lab. Sixth pass is doing questions on the Michigan website or other sources, along with an atlas like Netter's. During all this time, the sources that seem most helpful will be the ones I will return to at my own discretion.
     
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  11. TBV

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    I've been very sucessful by writing everything the lecturer says. When they're saying it I can't tell whats important so when I sort out the information I just highlight all the important points and can reread my notes to study. Now for brute memorization I use flashcards (like everyone else does). To each his own though if I were you I would try a different approach or contact your school for help. I know we have a person whos whole job is talking to students giving study advice and creating study plans
     
  12. AthleteDoc7

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    thank you both! I'm actually thinking I may have been more successful had I spent more time actually reviewing the notes I took after I took them, along with making more passes of the older stuff throughout the week. flash cards may help also, they just take a lot of time to make, which I'll have to figure out also.
     
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  13. PhillyMed777

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    It depends on the topic Athletedoc:

    Examples below

    1) for cell bio/molec bio, i needed all my notes/slides only. Only those contained the appropriate amount of detail. So i repeated those over and over.
    2) for path, i watch pathoma, read first aid and rapid review (goljian), read from big robbins a little, and then finally review the class notes/slides over and over. Some concepts before a test I'd get to a dozen times. Some questions on the test I'd get right from reading from another source, while for whatever reason i missed it while studying from class notes/slides.
    3) for neuro, it depends. If its path, i do as above. If its more anatomical, I go to HY Neuroanatomy...and of course, anchor everything in class notes/slides

    Other sources are useful if they contain the level of detail that is useful. For the sake of classes, the detail may exceed what is necessary for boards, etc, but you have to know it for class.
     
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  14. operaman

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    You're on to something here. I've posted about this at length before, but my very brief thoughts on studying in med school:
    1) In a class of 150 people, you'll find 150 different approaches. What works for your buddy may not (likely will not) work for you. Find your own way.
    2) Repetition is the sole unifying factor among all successful study methods. Doesn't matter what form this repetition takes: pre-reading, flash cards, tutoring, annotating, qbanks, videos, etc. Whatever you do, aim to get 4-5 passes of the material.
    3) Avail yourself of ALL resources your school offers, especially if that includes upperclassmen tutors. People who don't utilize these resources are idiots. 2-3 hours a week with people who took your same exam last year = priceless. If you get paired with a dud, then switch tutors/groups. As I recall, 100% of the junior AOA students from my class actively participated in tutor groups as M1s; it's not like undergrad where tutoring was mainly for those who were struggling.

    You struggled with your first exam mostly because of number 2. You simply didn't get enough passes of the material to solidify the details in your mind. Beyond this, you weren't prepared for the level of detail you were expected to remember. Now you know, but continue to seek guidance from upperclassmen (especially MS2s) as to what gets asked on future exams as different professors will surely have different styles.
     
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  15. jqueb29

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    Didn't take the time to read if you said anything about your class having mandatory attendance or not, but I would strongly recommend not attending class and just homeschooling. Time is the most valuable thing in med school (as evidenced by me not taking the time to read and see if anybody said this already), and homeschooling maximizes your time efficiency.
     
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  16. AthleteDoc7

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    this is exactly what I'm debating doing.

    but just as an update, I ended up doing okay and I passed my exams. needless to say I could still be doing more, so this thread was still very useful. thank you all
     
  17. Roxas

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    :bang:
     
  18. ortnakas

    ortnakas DO PGY-1
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    Congrats, but please also learn not to panic before you get your grades. You can't freak out like this after every exam and maintain your sanity. I'm speaking a little from experience here.

    And realize nobody feels good after most exams, and somehow just about everyone still passes anyway.
     
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  19. Roxas

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    At our school we get our test scores back instantly (multiple choice on computer). Does not every school do this?
     
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  20. ortnakas

    ortnakas DO PGY-1
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    I wish! We take ours on a scantron. When we're lucky, we get our scores get back online within a couple hours. Sometimes we're not that lucky, so you learn to not assume the best or the worst until grades are posted.
     
  21. Roxas

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    Uhh... what is this, 1993?
     
  22. Warderino92

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    We take ours on scantron as well. I think the library has....8-10 computers? Every other computer on campus is for faculty offices and I don't think they'd want us to use our own.
     
  23. ortnakas

    ortnakas DO PGY-1
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    Uhh... you have a point. Can't say I'm a fan of the scantron system but I don't think it impacts my education, so I don't bother complaining.
     
  24. ChiTownBHawks

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    ipads
     
  25. tvelocity514

    tvelocity514 ASA Member
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    Wow that's awesome yall still use scantron haha. We have to download a software on our computer that shuts our computer off except for the software and have it on the computer that way.
     
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  26. Crayola227

    Crayola227 The Oncoming Storm
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    They told us going from college to med school you may have to completely adjust your system

    That being said, it was BS for me

    That being said, you may have to try different methods for different topics, that blows because you don't have time to dick around with different methods

    I personally had to write by hand everything I wanted to remember, I have like a photographic memory for my own handwriting, there is always greater retention for taking notes over just reading sans notes, that being said, even better recall with practice tests/questions, there's even better retention with forced recall (not multiple choice but fill in the blank/flashcard type ****)

    That being said many people feel they are doing **** on every med exam they ever take, it is up to each individual to figure out what, if any relationship there is between how you feel you did and how you actually did

    And, keep in mind, that med school purposefully selected that almost every one of your colleagues is in the top 90th percentile of all test takers in the US, the ones that busted ass for A's and the ones who do it with hands tied behind their back

    You will likely study harder than you ever have in your life and for diminshing returns on grades (let's say studying 70 hours per week got me pass, and so did 40 hours per week, 80 hours and I might have gotten near honors, so at some point you have to figure out how hard you have to work for a given grade and if it's feasible or if you're willing for the trade offs)

    You go from big badass grade fish in small pond of idiot co-eds to small fish in a big lake of gunners

    Now that y'all are in med school, be prepared that some of you 90th percentilers are now going to be average or even ****ty med students

    Some of my compatriots never studied, got Honors, some busted more ass than I thought physically possible just to pass, I hope you can work a reasonably difficult pace to get what you want

    In college I did whatever and got good grades, I didn't really have to second guess my methods

    Now I suggest you learn about different methods, try some, learn what kind of learner you are,
    for each different med school topic see what methods are recommended, and based on your self knowledge pick the methods that will do it for you

    Specifically for anatomy and histology, NOTHING can really replace time spent in lab
    The cadaver needs to become your best friend, know not only your backwards and forwards, but be sure you can find any structure on at least 5 other cadavers in that lab

    For histology, there's a certain amount of description and verbology and reading that will help you have an approach to "reading" a slide, but again, looking at slide after slide and tissue after tissue

    People get into trouble with those courses because they want reading or lab to substitute one for the other (especially lab) and you got to do both my child
     
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  27. AthleteDoc7

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    I realize it's good that I passed, but I only did by 7 points, so I still feel I need to do better as the material will only get more difficult. to all who offered helpful advice, thank you!! I'll do my best not to panic until I need to in the future haha
     
  28. ortnakas

    ortnakas DO PGY-1
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    Isn't seven points above passing three points away from a B? Pretty sure you did fine! Refining your methods is always a good idea but gain, A) congrats and B) you can chill a bit
     
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  29. TBV

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    I get your point but it's probably also below average so OP take the points here refine your study habits and appreciate that if you become more effective than you are now you will pass!
     
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  30. Elevencents

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    If every person who thought they failed an exam in med school made a post about it - I think the Internet would crash.
     
  31. StraightOuttaBrooklyn

    StraightOuttaBrooklyn Future House, M.D.

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    Sound sound solid advice hear. Current MS2 and will most certainly be taking a page or two from your book my friend.
     
  32. clairephillips

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    Count yourself lucky to have that, my friend. I took an exam Monday, got the score back Thursday night. It was our first exam and I thought I'd failed so badly I couldn't recover - it was agony!!!
     
  33. AthleteDoc7

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    hahs cut me some slack, it was my first exam. I've been much better on our last couple since then. still getting used to this life of not knowing everything lol
     

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