It's been a year since I've even taken a real test (BE senior year was full of labs/long answer tests) and I think it's been at least a few years since I've taken a scantron! (evil MCAT Summer 2006). I studied by going over our syllabus (over 100 pages of packed material for this exam), going over all the new terms I've learned (probably over 300 new medical/anatomical terms), going into lab twice during the weekend (to look at body structures on all the different bodies), and doing practice problems released by Pitt, UMich, and even taking some practice BRS (Boards) tests. I felt pretty good the night of the test- though Hurricane Ike hit Shadyside and we lost power for an hour (Mirat and I freaked out (along with the rest of our med school neighbors) because we hadn't quite finished up studying, but our medical resident neighbors were awesome and gave us a huge candle). We felt like we were studying back in the colonial times, it was like Little House on the Prairie. Don't make fun of us.
Monday morning half our class took the written test (50 multiple choice questions, 70 minutes) and half our class took the practical (ID'ing tagged and pinned structures in the anatomy lab, 50 stations, 25 rest stations , 75 minutes total- more on this later). Then we switched. Man, the written test was intense, and multiple choice was never my strong suit, I ended up doing not so hot on the written, but not terrible either- the 70 minutes flew by. Then we went into the lab for our practical:
I'm going to detail the anatomy lab practical because I think it's a strange and fun experience, unlike any academic test you will ever take. Can you tell I love rambling? :)
So the Friday before our test, our wonderful anatomy T.A.s set up a mock practical for us- at 7:30pm at night. It was wonderfully spooky and almost ritual as all 150 of us were led into the empty building, and barked orders at in the lecture hall. This is how the test works - There are several stations, 1 person to a station, you get 1 minute to ID everything that is asked at that station, then the bell rings and EVERYONE shifts to the next station- this continues until you hit all the stations. You can not touch the body/organ/structure, you can only look, absolute silence, and you write down your answer on your clipboard and must move promptly from your station to the next when the bell rings. You are responsible for knowing/recognizing every single structure mentioned in the dissection book in our section (about 300 terms), this includes odd bones, fascias, muscles, organs, arteries, veins, nerves. Some structures always appear on the exam some others are totally random. Our class shuffled into the eerie anatomy lab, picked stations to start at and then silence started and nervousness consumed us all... the first few minutes made me really nervous, it's silent, everyone's craning their next to look around the structure, I'd panic like crazy trying to orient myself to where I was looking at in the cadaver and then had to narrow down all the possible things the little red string could possibly be tied to. Most of the time I had a good idea, some of the time I had to guess. Things on some bodies look completely different to things on some other bodies, due to either drying of tissues, biological difference, or gender differences. I thing anatomy lab is a great way to learn the body, so I think I generally do well at this portion of the test- indeed on the actual test this was my strong suit :).
we're not allowed to take pictures in anatomy lab (respect for cadavers) but it's something like this old photograph...btw my anatomy team of 6 is super awesome!Whew, needless to say we were all ridiculously relieved when we finished the two portions of the test, many of us went out to celebrate that night and everyone was in such a great mood. Unfortunately the next morning we dove straight back into the next section- head and neck-even more complicated with more material than our first section.
Med school has no homework, but it's constant studying, and hard tests - bring back some MIT psets for me and I think I'll be a little more sane...or not...
The weekend looks fun from here- vegan potluck, saturday rooftop party, sunday dinner with my advising group, and studying all in between. I'll update again soon!