>January 28 2002

>

An absolutely beautiful weekend was squandered in the library. I crammed all of the Histology I could in for our exam today and much of it took I think. So much of our studying comes down to cramming and then purging, but I can’t help but think that at least a few major facts will stay with me.
One of the things that has surprised me about medical school, is the challenging of test items by the students. It seems to me that in college, the professors never threw any questions out or accepted alternative answers after the original grading. Yet here in medical school, it is almost routine for us to get a question or two tossed out on each exam. It seems that there is a core group of students who want to argue with the instructors over every question they miss. I kind of get irritated with them. I have missed some items that I thought were ambiguous or unclear. I remember a segmented bronchus on gross anatomy practical exam that I am positive was mistagged But I figure that life is not always fair and just suck it up and take it like a man. But no! We’ve got some students who are all over themselves to argue for points on every single question they miss. And of course its always the ones who have made an A anyway. They make a 94 but will not stop whining until they get a point back to get them to 95. I mean I can see maybe if you need a question to pass a test, but come on! Some classmates even approach test-taking with this in mind. Instead of looking for the best possible answer on a multiple choice if they are unsure, they talk about picking the one that they can argue for the best. I guess this is to be expected when you are dealing with a core group of extremely motivated and competitive people.

Looking at it as an observer, I can see two sides. On one hand, it would seem that a poor job is done in writing examinations if questions have to be tossed out. I mean these are professionals in their chosen fields and they should know the material well enough to write fair questions. On the other hand, the material is quite complex and sometimes the students have read the textbook more thoroughly than the PhD who had all of this stuff 20-30 years ago and is more worried about his ongoing bacterial DNA gene splicing research than reading the 13th edition of the basic science textbook of his discipline. I think some of the professors give in too easily on this stuff. Multiple choice exams always say to select the BEST answer. Sometimes more than one answer is POSSIBLE but one is clearly better than the other. Oh well, I have benefited from the griping of others but I just don’t think an extra point here and there is going to matter much four years from now.

Oh, our school Physiology department just updated their website and yours truly is featured sitting in class looking stumped. Since the site here currently doesn’t have photo upload capabilities, you can check it out here:
http://phys-main.umsmed.edu/TEACHING/medical/Overview.HTM
I am the guy holding the pen at the bottom.

About Marcus Lee

Child Neurologist
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