Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh medical school exams, you think you're soooo funny, don't you?

So our most recent test was...insane.

So picture this. Our exam is integrated, meaning that all of our classes have a section in the exam. So we have BioChem, Histology, Molecular Biology and Immunology together. So picture this. I'm 1.5 hours into a 3.5 hour exam, and I begin the Molecular Biology part of the exam.

First, this part of the exam is short answer, NOT multiple choice. I'm not quite sure why. The board exam is multiple choice. Step 2 is multiple choice. In fact, no where in our medical testing will we face short answer type questions. But okay, whatever.

I open the booklet. 

There are two questions, each worth 50% of our grade in Molecular Biology. 

1st question: straightforward, fair question. I answer, thinking I probably did alright.

The 2nd question stem is about a page long. I read the story about bacteria and the different experiments performed. This is way more complicated than anything we've ever seen.

Alright, I think to myself, I got this. I studied every single lecture, I read the syllabus, I did all the practice problems. 

And then I read Part A of the 2nd question:

a) What is an arginine auxotroph? 

Well, crapbox. I have no clue. We never discussed that in class, syllabus or practice problems. Should I have randomly Googled arginine auxotroph in my spare time? Okay, forget this, maybe part B will be better. 

b) What is a prototroph?

....okay...apparently I was supposed to use my super psychic powers and read up on prototrophs earlier. Well whatever, part C should be better.

c) Why are the bacteria in Experiment 1 arginine auxotrophs? 

Oh God. The questions are going to stack on top of each other. My lack of outside knowledge has destroyed me for this exam.

d) Explain why the bacteria in Experiment 2 are prototrophs.

You know what would help? IF I KNEW WHAT PROTOTROPHS WERE. 

e) Draw the bacterial genes for Experiment 3 bacteria being sure to include the arginine auxotroph genes. 

We've never been asked to draw a genome before. I drew a circle. I was so proud of myself. Got that part down.

BOOMSHOCKALOCKA! I got +2 for this!

f) How are the enteroaggregative genes and the arginine biosynthesis genes related?

Dear God, what is going on? What does enteroaggregative mean? Have I entered some alternate reality ?

I stare at the questions, hoping that some BS will surface in my head that sounds even remotely plausible. I spend the next hour and a half making up answers. 

I left that exam convinced I was going to need to take Molecular Biology over the summer. But I wasn't even upset. I had studied my butt off for that exam.

Two weeks later, word on the street is that the exams have been graded. Our average was BELOW A 50%. 


I got my grade back:

Out of a 200 point exam, 60 points were dropped. So I wound up getting an 85.71%, woot!

But even better, before the curve, I had a 133/200.

Which puts me at 66.5%. And what is passing? A 65%! I would have passed by 1.5% without the curve! Victory is mine.

You know what they say: P(ass) = MD!


  1. Oh how I hate exams that seem to be completely unrelated to the material that has been taught. I think some profs must do drugs before they write exam questions.

  2. Haha I was actually laughing out loud at that! Well done. I started med school this year with a previous degree and will be (hopefully!) graduating in 2015 too! :)