Azete

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The typical average for an exam at our school is usually between 88-92, and I thought this was normal for med school until I was talking with some friends with averages in the low 70s -- which just seems bizarre because wouldn't this mean ~half the class is failing?

Obviously the students at our school aren't any more capable than elsewhere, so I'm curious what the average (i.e. test difficulty) is like at other schools.
 

Stagg737

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The typical average for an exam at our school is usually between 88-92, and I thought this was normal for med school until I was talking with some friends with averages in the low 70s -- which just seems bizarre because wouldn't this mean ~half the class is failing?

Obviously the students at our school aren't any more capable than elsewhere, so I'm curious what the average (i.e. test difficulty) is like at other schools.
Not if they're graded on a curve. At my school the average gets curved up to an 85, so if the class as a whole averages a 70 then everyone will get 15% added to their score (our classes are curved, not individual tests). Some professors just like to write significantly harder questions than others, so it's a way of standardizing how we do compared to the rest of our class and make sure that if there's a poorly written test half the class doesn't get screwed over.
 
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FindMeOnTheLinks

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Our class averages first year were 85-87, no curve. I think that is probably about the standard for most medical schools.


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Azete

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Side note, I've actually found med school exams to be significantly easier than undergrad -- just 10x the material.
 
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Wildly variable. We are curved. Our average on one cardiology test was 68. They were most often in the 70s for years 1-2. Some are more like 80. Passing is no less than 2 standard deviations below the mean
 

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It ranged between 81-87% depending on the block. This was after adjustments were made with certain questions (e.g., some were thrown out with no credit given, others weren't counted in the overall points total so if you got it right you got credit, so essential a bonus point, but if you got it wrong it didn't hurt you), which significantly raised the class mean a few blocks.
 
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Azete

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66-79 range. No curve.
This is the part I don't understand. Obviously everyone in med school is a capable student, so doesn't a 66 average represent a failure by the teacher/school -- either by writing a bad exam or not covering the material properly?
 

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This is the part I don't understand. Obviously everyone in med school is a capable student, so doesn't a 66 average represent a failure by the teacher/school -- either by writing a bad exam or not covering the material properly?
No. Some teachers make questions that they expect a decent amount of students to get them wrong.
For example, my biochem teacher routinely puts 2 "correct" answers with one answer better than the other. He states that a good question in his opinion is one where 60% of the class chooses the best answer and 30% of the class chooses the "second best answer".
His reasoning is that some students understand the material, but dont know it well enough for higher-order questions.

Honestly if he simply put one correct answer per question, the tests would a lot easier. Instead we try to figure out which answer is more right.
 
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This is the part I don't understand. Obviously everyone in med school is a capable student, so doesn't a 66 average represent a failure by the teacher/school -- either by writing a bad exam or not covering the material properly?
It could be that they want the tests to be very difficult see who the outliers are.
 

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Low to mid-80s. Someone always scores almost perfect, someone usually fails. They make it hard enough to really test the ones who are in the high 90s, but just hard enough that you only fail if you're unprepared. I think it's a happy medium. They do throw out questions that are controversial in their distribution.
 
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Azete

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No. Some teachers make questions that they expect a decent amount of students to get them wrong.
For example, my biochem teacher routinely puts 2 "correct" answers with one answer better than the other. He states that a good question in his opinion is one where 60% of the class chooses the best answer and 30% of the class chooses the "second best answer".
His reasoning is that some students understand the material, but dont know it well enough for higher-order questions.

Honestly if he simply put one correct answer per question, the tests would a lot easier. Instead we try to figure out which answer is more right.
Right, this seems like reasonable logic, but 66 is a failing grade in med school. I'm sure different rules for different places, but if that average were to continue for an entire course, with no curve, that would mean half the class remediating (at most schools).
 
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cyang55

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82-86%

I heard a lot of schools will curve the grades at the end of the course, not sure if ours will. Hopefully residencies won't care much about grades as they do board scores. How can they compare a C student at one school with an A student at another? It seems to all depend more on the professors and less on the students.
 

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This is the part I don't understand. Obviously everyone in med school is a capable student, so doesn't a 66 average represent a failure by the teacher/school -- either by writing a bad exam or not covering the material properly?
I'd say an exam where you also have a 94 average is equally if not more of a failure. At least with a 66 average you can parse out who knows more than other people. And idc what anyone says, there are going to be curves or mathematical changes at end of grading. They're not going to let more than half the class fail an exam.
 
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Azete

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I'd say an exam where you also have a 94 average is equally if not more of a failure. At least with a 66 average you can parse out who knows more than other people. And idc what anyone says, there are going to be curves or mathematical changes at end of grading. They're not going to let more than half the class fail an exam.
100% agree
 

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Low 80s at my school. No curve, but the poorest performing questions get thrown out.

My first thought at seeing your post is that the faculty are writing questions that are too easy.

If the avg's are in the low 70s, then something is wrong with the Faculty, not the students.


The typical average for an exam at our school is usually between 88-92, and I thought this was normal for med school until I was talking with some friends with averages in the low 70s -- which just seems bizarre because wouldn't this mean ~half the class is failing?

Obviously the students at our school aren't any more capable than elsewhere, so I'm curious what the average (i.e. test difficulty) is like at other schools.
 
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Azete

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Low 80s at my school. No curve, but the poorest performing questions get thrown out.

My first thought at seeing your post is that the faculty are writing questions that are too easy.

If the avg's are in the low 70s, then something is wrong with the Faculty, not the students.
It's good and bad. Good because even when I'm overwhelmed with material, I can still get a mid to high B by just knowing the bare minimum -- really lessens the stress because "passing" is never an issue. Bad because even when I work exceptionally hard, I'm not really rewarded for it. I might get the highest score in the class, but when it's only a few points above the average (and sometimes the same grade because 90+ is an A), you sort of lose the motivation to spend the extra time mastering the material.
 

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80-85% for most science-based blocks. 90-92% for lighter courses such as primary clinical skills. Questions that the top 3rd of exam takers performed similarly poorly on as compared to bottom 3rd for that exam were thrown out.
 
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FourniersGreenGang

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Yeah mine is 85 with no curve. I've seen the grade distributions though and there are definitely a couple that are significantly below that average.
 
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Averages are in low 80s for exams with below 70 being the failure. No curve or extra boost at the end. Once every month or so we get a question that's "waived" because it had a less than 40% pass rate on a tough exam.
 

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Jesus, what schools do you guys go to? Handing that **** out.

We're lucky to break 80-82 average. Rarely questions removed or double answered.
 
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Raryn

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It varied dramatically for my school. I still remember an anatomy practical I got a 96% and was below average (average was 97%). I think in the low 80s was typical, but every course had their own distribution of scores and requirements for the specific grades. Some required a 90 for an H, some required a 92, 94, whatever the heck they wanted. No consistency.

They've redone the curriculum since I was a student though, so who knows?
 

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I honestly just want to see the first exam so I know what to expect. In M2's/people who have already taken the first test, how much did a "med-school test" vary from an undergrad one?? More general? Trying to trick you?

Plowing through the material either way l but just would like atleast a little idea
 
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Azete

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I honestly just want to see the first exam so I know what to expect. In M2's/people who have already taken the first test, how much did a "med-school test" vary from an undergrad one?? More general? Trying to trick you?

Plowing through the material either way l but just would like atleast a little idea
As you can see it varies quite a bit, because the averages are different but the quality of students is more or less the same everywhere.

For me, our tests are significantly easier than undergrad if you manage to get through all the material. If you manage your time well, do a couple of passes of the material, and have a good understanding of the "big picture" -- that's usually enough to get a high B or an A. They almost never try to trick us and even when the questions are difficult, the answers are still usually obvious because it'll be something like this:

Which is involved in humoral immunity?
A) B Cells
B) Grass
C) Avocado
D) Your neighbor Dave
E) Cocaine

Obviously not that simple, but you get the idea. There's one or 2 questions per test that are just absolutely insane details that would literally require 10+ hours of additional studying to get correct -- I stopped worrying about these a long time ago.
 

mehc012

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As you can see it varies quite a bit, because the averages are different but the quality of students is more or less the same everywhere.

For me, our tests are significantly easier than undergrad if you manage to get through all the material. If you manage your time well, do a couple of passes of the material, and have a good understanding of the "big picture" -- that's usually enough to get a high B or an A. They almost never try to trick us and even when the questions are difficult, the answers are still usually obvious because it'll be something like this:

Which is involved in humoral immunity?
A) B Cells
B) Grass
C) Avocado
D) Your neighbor Dave
E) Cocaine

Obviously not that simple, but you get the idea. There's one or 2 questions per test that are just absolutely insane details that would literally require 10+ hours of additional studying to get correct -- I stopped worrying about these a long time ago.
Wait, are most tests multiple choice?
 

Raryn

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Wait, are most tests multiple choice?
Varies from school to school, but generally, yes.

Outside of anatomy practicals, cell bio practicals, and some pharmacology exams (which were hand-written and had different formats), all of my basic science grades were entirely based on multiple choice tests.
 

Taddy Mason

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Wait, are most tests multiple choice?
We had two 4 hour essay tests, two 25 question practical exams (anatomy and histo 1st year, micro and path 2nd year), and a three hour 130 question MCQ exam at the end of each block.
 

NotYou20

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I honestly just want to see the first exam so I know what to expect. In M2's/people who have already taken the first test, how much did a "med-school test" vary from an undergrad one?? More general? Trying to trick you?

Plowing through the material either way l but just would like atleast a little idea
There wasn't a single trick question, but there were a few that I have no idea how anyone got. Our tough but fair questions weren't like @Azete's, we had two or three plausible answers. Otherwise I agree with him/her. I've only had one test though.
 

Taddy Mason

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**** that.
No. F**king. Sh!t. After our very last one a bunch of my classmates and I went out drinking and took our last pre-clinical MCQ test hungover - that's how awful those tests were.
 
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mehc012

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Varies from school to school, but generally, yes.

Outside of anatomy practicals, cell bio practicals, and some pharmacology exams (which were hand-written and had different formats), all of my basic science grades were entirely based on multiple choice tests.
Huh. Ours are mainly essays/short answer/diagrams, just like undergrad.
 
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Azete

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Huh. Ours are mainly essays/short answer/diagrams, just like undergrad.
Lots of respect because I don't think there are enough hours in a day for me to perform well on that style of exam -- but is that even the best strategy, considering boards are all multiple choice?

I'm sure it's far better for learning the material, and I imagine the amount of knowledge you have over me is embarrassing, but you would think it would be better to have the exams written in NBME format given the weight that's placed on Step 1.
 

mehc012

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Lots of respect because I don't think there are enough hours in a day for me to perform well on that style of exam -- but is that even the best strategy, considering boards are all multiple choice?

I'm sure it's far better for learning the material, and I imagine the amount of knowledge you have over me is embarrassing, but you would think it would be better to have the exams written in NBME format given the weight that's placed on Step 1.
They also give us NBME exams every block, but those are not what's used for our grades...those are for us to monitor our boards prep progress as we go (curriculum is integrated) and get used to those style questions. I haven't had one myself yet (they don't do that for the first block, I think because we haven't learned enough to have a good set of board questions), but the word from the M2s is that preparing for the essay test preps you for the NBME exam.
 

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Wait, are most tests multiple choice?
My tests are all multiple choice, but we get like 12 options and they try to make them "reasonable". If the answer is obviously an Amino Acids, you're getting a list of of 12 Amino Acids I've only taken quizzes thought the profs said it was the same format/difficulty.
 

mehc012

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That blows. Ours are all MC sans anatomy.
Yeah, on one hand you can get help from the answers available. On the other, if you don't understand exactly what strange thought process the examiner had on some of the questions you get screwed. We do a lot of MCQ sets as non-exam work, and I can honestly say that I'm glad our tests aren't like that. I at least get the space to explain how I'm approaching/interpreting the question if it's unclear, and to show my reasoning and understanding even if I can't remember one random factoid that would cement the MC answer.
 
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Azete

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Yeah, on one hand you can get help from the answers available. On the other, if you don't understand exactly what strange thought process the examiner had on some of the questions you get screwed. We do a lot of MCQ sets as non-exam work, and I can honestly say that I'm glad our tests aren't like that. I at least get the space to explain how I'm approaching/interpreting the question if it's unclear, and to show my reasoning and understanding even if I can't remember one random factoid that would cement the MC answer.
Are they typed or do you hand write the answers?
 

mehc012

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Are they typed or do you hand write the answers?
Typed, with the exception of a few questions for anatomy if they require some form of diagram drawing. So for our first block exam, everything was typed and everything in the block was fair game for questions. For the corresponding Anatomy exam, we typed most of the questions, but the last one was handed out separately in a paper packet with an incomplete diagram already printed in. For that one, we had to draw out the rest of the anatomy it asked for by hand, placed correctly in relation to the pre-printed skeletal components. Those types of Anatomy questions they give us ahead of time, though...they give us a ton of them and we learn them all and then they'll ask us to reproduce a few of them for the exam. The practical is just like everyone else's, though.
 

FindMeOnTheLinks

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Typed, with the exception of a few questions for anatomy if they require some form of diagram drawing. So for our first block exam, everything was typed and everything in the block was fair game for questions. For the corresponding Anatomy exam, we typed most of the questions, but the last one was handed out separately in a paper packet with an incomplete diagram already printed in. For that one, we had to draw out the rest of the anatomy it asked for by hand, placed correctly in relation to the pre-printed skeletal components. Those types of Anatomy questions they give us ahead of time, though...they give us a ton of them and we learn them all and then they'll ask us to reproduce a few of them for the exam. The practical is just like everyone else's, though.
Wow, that is.......unique.

Aka I'm glad I don't go to your school...


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mehc012

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Wow, that is.......unique.

Aka I'm glad I don't go to your school...


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Haha, I thought it'd be terrible, but actually I'm really liking it thus far. I kind of picked it knowing I would do worse here grade-wise but probably end up learning more since I couldn't just rely on my affinity for MC testing. That's just for me, though...I do well on MC and tend to kind of write off MC exams because of it, so the fact that I have to actually explain myself here means more motivation to study for me personally. I'm also super lazy, so I need the external factor like that.
 
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Azete

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Haha, I thought it'd be terrible, but actually I'm really liking it thus far. I kind of picked it knowing I would do worse here grade-wise but probably end up learning more since I couldn't just rely on my affinity for MC testing. That's just for me, though...I do well on MC and tend to kind of write off MC exams because of it, so the fact that I have to actually explain myself here means more motivation to study for me personally. I'm also super lazy, so I need the external factor like that.
It definitely forces you to have a better understanding, and you'll probably end up being a better doctor because of it. I couldn't imagine doing non-MC path exams though, I pretty much solely survive on keyword association.
 
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