Sunday, November 21, 2010

5 Down, 3 To Go

So we had another mock spotter on Friday. Each term we have one mock (i.e. it counts for nothing grade-wise) and one final (real) spotter.

These exams are also known as "bell ringers" because you get 1 or 2 minutes per station where you have to determine what it is you are looking at and then answer questions on it--before the GONG goes off and you have to move to the next station.

I have to say, this was the best one so far, for me. I don't think I did wonderfully on it but I feel like I am finally figuring out how to ace these exams.

For one, I used to just about have a seizure whenever I saw this photo:

Human embryo at around 3 weeks. 
But now I am not as freaked out. It's just a teeney, weenie little embryo---and it can't hurt me! I know what the bits do, and what they become, and I am not as easily thrown off by our prof putting random genes in the answer (which I don't know) to trick us.  I just look for the part of the answer I know (like nucleus pulposus or skeletal muscle or whatever) and ignore the via Gli3R protein or in response to Fgf signaling part of the answer. I know, it sounds obvious, but when exam adrenalin is rushing I tend to see those words and BLANK on all the things I do actually understand. Freak out. Run out of time. Guess.

So. I try to breathe. When I get to the next station I force myself to let the last set of questions go. I used to ruminate. There is no time to ruminate.

Also, I am in two amazing study groups (mostly composed of the same people), and we've been preparing for exams since the second week of school. Every week we've made presentations for each other on the salient points from our cases last year. We make up quizzes for each other and handouts, etc. It works really well because you are forced to do the review every week and you want to do a good job (so that you don't look like a slacker for the group presentation). 

2 weeks ago we each made a mock spotter for the group from 7 randomly assigned cases spanning both last year and this year (thus covering all the cases). Making the damn thing was VERY time consuming and it took us 2 three hour sessions just to get through all of them, but we timed them like a real spotter and everything. 

I never realised that the BEST way to study is to try and make exam questions! You really have to think about the concept, how to trick people, how to word questions and make plausible fake answers. Each question took me at least 30-60mins to make. 

Hello. It paid off. There were several of our exact slides on the exam Friday!!

Huzzah!*

The real bonus though is that I only have THREE spotters left in the future of my earthly existence. This makes me very happy. Though I must say, since I've been thinking more and more about pursuing surgery, studying anatomy is less tedious than it was in the past. 

---

*I did have one of those post-exam-facepalms though in the shower yesterday. I was just washing my hair and like a lightening bolt one of the histology slides (that had confused me) popped into my head. I thought that it was liver with the arrow pointing to fibrosis. But the lightening bolt struck and I suddenly remembered doing it in one of our mock exams! Nooooooooooooooooooo! It was a fibrillary tangle in a sample of brain tissue! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Facepalm. Facepalm. Facepalm. Sigh.

Can't win 'em all I guess. 

6 comments:

iamnothouse.com said...

I never quite understood the point of going into that much detail on bell ringers, especially on embryology. I have yet to find a physician, other than one obstetrician who also did basic science research, who could remember anything beyond the morula-blastula-etc stages of development.

Ditto for anatomy. Unless you're an orthopod, you will never need to know all the fascia, ligaments and tendons of the foot, and cramming all this information in, only to forget it right after the test, seems a little pointless.

Albinoblackbear said...

Yeah, a lot of it seems really irrelevant---mostly the histo for me.

But I have to say I got SERIOUSLY pimped this summer by the surgeons (especially the ENT) on embryology!

Much to my surprise (and dismay as I was so nervous on my first scrub in retracting this chicks neck and the sweat is running down my back and backs of my knees). I was like "uh...parathyroid? Branchial clefts...uh...don't they swap or migrate or something? eek!"

You just never know what weird niche someone is going to exploit at your expense when you're a student I guess. :)

Liv said...

Making up study questions is great. My friends and I have been doing it since last year. Way to go on your exam!

Absentbabinski said...

Eeesh, and here I am swotting up for way more clinical (and therefore less detailed) exams.

I really hope my course doesn't go the way of "bell ringers" - I'm never going to be that happy with embryology!

Good luck to you, though :)

Old MD Girl said...

What are those arrows pointing to? Neural tube?? Neural crest cells??

All I remember about ENT embryology is rathke's pouch.

Albinoblackbear said...

Liv--Yeah! We usually just give each other questions from q-bank or whathaveyou but this time we used our histo lecture slides/anatomy assignment slides to construct them. So much better!

Thanks--though no congrats *may* be in order, still don't know how I did... =)

Apparently the average was 45% and the pass mark was 39%...

AB--Yeah I was lured into that belief as well last year since our program is very clinically oriented...BUT...I think if anything they really swing to minutiae to PROVE that they are still all about the core science for the first 2 years. Good luck back! =)

OMDG--Well it isn't the highest quality picture so A could be debated--but yes I think it is a scraggly piece of neural crest cells and B is the neural tube.

All I really know about embryo is actually the neural crest derivatives, the pharyngeal pouches, and the fore/mid/hindgut derivates because my anatomy prof is OBSESSED with embryology (and lynph and neuro). Every exam you are guaranteed some question about each of those will be in it.

Though I am sure in a very short time all of that will be long gone from my memory banks!