B. The Written/Computer Exam
The second exam is more of what you’re used to:
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Okay, I’m kidding, although occasionally it came down to that…lol
1. Start early
Same principles as above. Keys: don’t get behind, review regularly, and don’t shy away from what you don’t know.
2. Know Your Anatomy
Okay, this is obvious right? You’re taking an anatomy exam so you should know you’re anatomy. Of course. But I say this because you shouldn’t see the lab exam and written exam as two different, separate exams. Rather, see them as Part A and Part B of one big exam.
Knowing your anatomy will serve you well on both exams. In fact, I had several multiple choice questions that required that I know my anatomy well.
3. Keep It Simple
It’s very easy to get tempted by the numerous resources floating around. You walk into your school’s bookstore or look online and you’re catapulted into a “candy store” full of anatomy review books, coloring books, notecards, etc.
Get the latest edition!
A must-have for every medical student!
In reality, your true must-haves are your lecture notes and I would argue Netter as well. Everything else is extra and should only be used if it truly helps you learn and understand the material.
Spend your money wisely and only on resources that you will actually use and provide you benefit.
One very important thing that I learned early on in medical school was to keep things simple. You only have so much time in the day and a good chunk of it is consumed by lectures, anatomy lab, sleep (very important), etc.
Sure, it’s great to read about the brachial plexus from three different review books but where will your questions come from? Your lecture notes.
Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, majority (if not all) of your questions will come straight from your notes. So why stray?
The only times I used an external resource was:
Something wasn’t explained well in my lecture notes
I wanted more details/information
Help reinforce something
Don’t become overwhelmed by the shiny new books. Only invest in what you’re actually use, with your lecture notes being your guide and foundation.
4. Questions! Questions! Questions!
Practice makes perfect right? Well, we aren’t striving for perfection unless you want to give yourself some grey hairs but we are striving to do well. What “well” means to you will vary but at the end of the day, you want to learn, understand, and remember the material to at minimum pass the exam.
One of the common themes that came up during my interviews with medical students and residents for The Doctor Goals Podcast was how important practice questions are. This applies to the MCAT, Step exams, and each and every medical school exam you’ll ever take.
Why? You may know the material well but if you can’t answer the question, you won’t get the points. It’s like being the most conditioned athlete but walking into an unfamiliar course; you put yourself at a disadvantage risking disappointment or worse, failure.
Doing practice questions helped me to solidify concepts and tie things together. It often lead to many “Aha” moments but also some, “Wow, I really don’t know this like I thought. I need to go back and review this.” It’s better to know this now before the real exam.
To try to keep this blog a reasonable length, I didn’t include my top tips on how to approach multiple choice exams but if you’d like a free downloadable copy, enter your name and email address here:
Summary for the written exam:
1. Start early.
2. Know your anatomy forwards and backwards.
3. Keep it simple. Only invest your time, money, and energy into resources that you’ll actually use and are worthwhile.
4. Questions! An absolute must. Practice questions will become your best friend throughout this long journey to becoming a doctor.
My “must-haves” for the written exam:
Note: Most of my studying was done using my lecture notes and Netters. I used Clinically Oriented Anatomy because my anatomy teacher told me to read the blue pages from each correlating chapter (generally was at the end of each chapter) because he often took some questions from there.
Also, I found the book to helpful for me and was a great supplemental read.
I didn’t personally use the Netter flash cards but if I had to go back, I would probably get them.
Why? I would carry a few of them (may be 5 – 8) wherever I went so if there was any down time (waiting in the grocery line, in between classes, etc.) I could pull them out and start reviewing.
Definitely optional and not necessary but a good option. Remember, only invest in a resource if you believe you’ll actually use it.
I hope this helped! Please share this with anyone you feel this may help. Best of luck everyone.
*DR. TROT SIGNING OUT*