Feb 19, 2008

Some good advice regarding exam questions and timing

I think it's pretty common to run out of time. My experience was complete deja vu. I remember taking the test back in 1994, and ran into the same issues with time (not having enough time to finish the last couple of experiments). I wasn't as worried about my score then, and fully expected to leave quite a few questions unanswered. So, I didn't feel so bad. I ended up scoring 95% in Biochem, 80 something in Molecular/Genetics, and blew the Cell biology section out my orifice (50%). Overall it was 78%.

In my opinion, the test has changed considerably, and the major curriculums have also changed the way the subjects are taught. Instead of gross memorization of facts, the emphasis is on induction and deduction. This test seemed to require a lot more "front end" thought in the questions than the 94 test. In Nov., expect them to be worded strangely, and require you to make an assessment from the choices to get the correct answer. It's interesting, that many times I'd read the question stem and already know what I expected the answer to be, only to look down find that the choice I anticipated wasn't there! So, the test will ask you to know more obscure details (i.e. the ribosome can bind where? You expect rough ER, right? Well, it's not in the choices (cytoplasm, mitochondrial outer membrane, inner nuclear membrane, lysosome, secretory vesicle).

We'll need to expect to put in at least 3 months of steady preparation for the Nov. test if we feel we should retake it. The most valuable study time is when you've already covered the material, (like we've done) and are able to "think" about the subjects without worrying about trying to cram in all kinds of new information.

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