Truly Though, What Does An Exam Teach You?


What is the point of an exam? As finals week gets closer and closer, I often find myself pondering on this question. We always hear professors or even admissions directors say, “Numbers don’t define a person,” yet it seems as if numbers are one of the important factors that dictates our entrance into medical school. The big picture question is why do these numbers mean so much to professors and admission committee? After speaking to several admissions committee and professors, they reiterate the fact that exams answers the question on “How motivated is this individual?”

As pre-meds, we are soooo dissapointed about attaining a letter grade below an “A” that we fail to understand why we are not receiving that grade. However asking yourself these three questions could help to pave the route in understanding how we can improve our grades:

  • Did I strategize my time correctly?
  • Is my study method working for me?
  • Am I learning the amount of level detail that I need to be learning?

1.Did I strategize my time correctly?
Professors give us a due date for an assignment, but that should not mean that we do the assignment a day before the deadline (haha who am I kidding?) But let’s look at this in a bigger picture, we’re college students who have a gajillion things going on– jobs, extracurricular activities, and research. Setting deadlines and goals for ourselves helps us to accomplish more tasks, and thus improve our mental health. For example, say that your professor gives you a lab report that is due within two weeks, say May 5. Split up your taks in doing the introduction and methods within the same week, then do the results and discussion within the next week, and then make a goal to finalize your lab report two-three days before the assignment is due.

2. Is my study method working for me?

Just a heads up, different study methods reflect on the type of subject that you’re studying for (obviously). I won’t elaborate further into this as I wrote another blog post about different study techniques– You should check it out (: Nonetheless, if you did not receive an A for that topic, truly truly reflect back on your study method.

3. Am I learning the amount of level detail that I need to be learning?

This was definitely one of the biggest traps that I fell into. I am currently taking neurophysiology, and it is considered to be one of the difficult science courses as an undergraduate as it is similar to taking a masters class. However, after getting my grade back from the first exam, I realized that I was not learning the level of detail that I should be learning. For example, learning about an action potential. I learned how an action potential occurs, but not understanding why they happen and what would the effects be if there was damage to properties that allow for an action potential to be generated.

All in all, regardless of whether we get an “A” on an exam or anything lower than an “A,” we should all strive for improvement, and not allow any scores (especially horrible ones) to discourage us from attaining our dreams, as they say we are not studying for a grade, but more so to save a patient’s life.

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