Stupid question about examinations in medical schools

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Ethics Maniac
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I know Cambridge has the MVST in addition to the 2nd MB (which is required for your medical degree) that medical students have to worry about. Failing the MVST once would get you kicked out, but you can resit once if you fail the 2nd MB.

Do other medical schools have exams equivalent to the MVST? Or do they just sit their exams that qualify them for their medical degrees? I am guessing medical schools that have a compulsory intercalation year do?
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Beska
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(Original post by Ethics Maniac)
I know Cambridge has the MVST in addition to the 2nd MB (which is required for your medical degree) that medical students have to worry about. Failing the MVST once would get you kicked out, but you can resit once if you fail the 2nd MB.

Do other medical schools have exams equivalent to the MVST? Or do they just sit their exams that qualify them for their medical degrees? I am guessing medical schools that have a compulsory intercalation year do?
All medical schools have exams at the end of each year, and you need to pass those exams to progress to the next year. The content is increasingly clinical. The final MBBS exam is usually a culmination of the whole course (i.e. it is an examination for the degree of MBBS, not just the '5th year exam') but is predominantly clinical, with questions assuming prior knowledge of everything tested before. We had some explicit pre-clinical stuff tested in our finals as well, scattered in there like a nice surprise...
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Chief Wiggum
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(Original post by Ethics Maniac)
I know Cambridge has the MVST in addition to the 2nd MB (which is required for your medical degree) that medical students have to worry about. Failing the MVST once would get you kicked out, but you can resit once if you fail the 2nd MB.

Do other medical schools have exams equivalent to the MVST? Or do they just sit their exams that qualify them for their medical degrees? I am guessing medical schools that have a compulsory intercalation year do?
I think the Tripos exams are kind of unique to Cambridge in a sense.
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Ethics Maniac
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(Original post by Chief Wiggum)
I think the Tripos exams are kind of unique to Cambridge in a sense.
Would you say essays in medical exams are unique to Cambridge?
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nexttime
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(Original post by Ethics Maniac)
Would you say essays in medical exams are unique to Cambridge?
Oxford has them so no.

I don't think many other med schools do, excepting for BScs where writing a dissertation is common.
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Muppet Science
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Essays I think are unusual in med school other than as noted above in intercalation. There are Student Selected Components (SSCs) which typically require a write-up but tend to be quite straight-forward.

Exams are typically multiple choice at the end of the year. In Cardiff we sit 3 exams per year with practical exams (OSCE/ISCE) in 2nd and 4th years.
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Neostigmine
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Southampton has essays, 3 (sort of) in finals and 2 a year during the early years (but not in exams).

The ones in finals are a referral letter, an ethical scenario essay and a critical appraisal. Fun! :|
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Angury
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(Original post by Neostigmine)
Southampton has essays, 3 (sort of) in finals and 2 a year during the early years (but not in exams).

The ones in finals are a referral letter, an ethical scenario essay and a critical appraisal. Fun! :|
The ethical scenario essay does sound rather fun actually.

Unfortunately Cardiff don't do essays for exams either - it's normally just single best answer questions, and I think that's the same for most medical schools.
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Neostigmine
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(Original post by Angury)
The ethical scenario essay does sound rather fun actually.

Unfortunately Cardiff don't do essays for exams either - it's normally just single best answer questions, and I think that's the same for most medical schools.
I promise, it wasn't! We had all 3 essays in one day. Total of almost 6 hours. I had a blister from writing and my thumb was swollen by the end. Surely that many essays in one day is... unethical? :holmes:
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seaholme
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We used to have essays in our exams in pre-clinical years when I did them, although I'm not sure if they've been phased out or not. I really liked them but lots of people hated them.
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Beska
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Are all med schools increasingly using single best answer rather than multiple choice?

"All 5 of these options are correct, but which one is MOST correct...?"
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Angury
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(Original post by Beska)
Are all med schools increasingly using single best answer rather than multiple choice?

"All 5 of these options are correct, but which one is MOST correct...?"
I used to find SBAs frustrating, but thinking about it now, I think with MCQs you can sometimes guess the right answer through elimination, whereas with SBAs you do need to have a bit more knowledge to be able to pick the correct answer.
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Beska
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(Original post by Angury)
I used to find SBAs frustrating, but thinking about it now, I think with MCQs you can sometimes guess the right answer through elimination, whereas with SBAs you do need to have a bit more knowledge to be able to pick the correct answer.
Yeh I think SBAs are better for testing medical knowledge. You need to weigh up all the information in the question v. critically and rule in/rule out things carefully until you're only left with a couple of things. Tests diagnostic reasoning and some higher skills rather than just pure knowledge. Frustrating as hell though...
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Ethics Maniac
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(Original post by nexttime)
Oxford has them so no.

I don't think many other med schools do, excepting for BScs where writing a dissertation is common.
Do you feel that essays have made you a better doctor/scientist than your colleagues who went to a medical school with little to no essays?
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nexttime
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(Original post by Ethics Maniac)
Do you feel that essays have made you a better doctor/scientist than your colleagues who went to a medical school with little to no essays?
I really have no idea. It probably orients the teaching more towards understanding of topics rather than learning of facts - certainly way less people resort to resources like expensive private question banks (Pastest etc). But then again essay marking can be quite subjective and rewards those who are good at ********ting.

Of all the differences between the Oxford course and say a pure PBL course, essays in exams is probably one of the least significant. The number of essays we write outside of that - 2-3 per week for the first 2 years - would be much more significant for instance.
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Angury
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(Original post by Ethics Maniac)
Do you feel that essays have made you a better doctor/scientist than your colleagues who went to a medical school with little to no essays?
I'm not sure how essays could test your knowledge as a medical student to be honest. My finals tested our ability to diagnose, investigate and manage acute and common conditions, as well as interpreting blood results/ECGs/Chest XRays etc. I don't know how you could introduce an essay that would test that sort of thing - or anything that is relevant to being a junior doctor. I guess there are areas such as reflective practice and sociology, but that hasn't been a major part of my medical teaching.

This is coming from someone who loves writing essays and writes them in their spare time for fun.

(Original post by nexttime)
I really have no idea. It probably orients the teaching more towards understanding of topics rather than learning of facts - certainly way less people resort to resources like expensive private question banks (Pastest etc). But then again essay marking can be quite subjective and rewards those who are good at ********ting.

Of all the differences between the Oxford course and say a pure PBL course, essays in exams is probably one of the least significant. The number of essays we write outside of that - 2-3 per week for the first 2 years - would be much more significant for instance.
Out of interest, what topics did the essays cover?
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nexttime
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(Original post by Angury)
Out of interest, what topics did the essays cover?
Vast vast majority are used in preclinical, so it wouldn't test the stuff you mentioned above. It would be things like... 'describe the histology of the stomach and how it relates to function', 'Write an essay on the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis', 'how important are T cells in the immune response', 'Describe how to perform x and y tests for genetic polymorphisms' or similar. And then you get marks for answering the question obviously, but are expected to cite key historical experiments or new research to get good marks.

I remember one of my exam essay options being 'write an essay on gustation'. I didn't answer that one :p:
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Helenia
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The Final FRCA has short essay questions (15 mins per question, 12 compulsory questions in 3 hours) - absolute killer. Not sure if any other postgrad exams do.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Angury)
I'm not sure how essays could test your knowledge as a medical student to be honest. My finals tested our ability to diagnose, investigate and manage acute and common conditions, as well as interpreting blood results/ECGs/Chest XRays etc. I don't know how you could introduce an essay that would test that sort of thing - or anything that is relevant to being a junior doctor.
Also: thought I'd reply to say the above is very easy. 'Write an essay on the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia', 'Describe the above ECG and its implications for the patient', 'What are the treatment options for a patient who has just been given a new diagnosis of AF', etc.

Not sure why you'd opt for such an assessment method over the more systematic multiple-choice and variants, but you could.
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Angury
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(Original post by nexttime)
Also: thought I'd reply to say the above is very easy. 'Write an essay on the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia', 'Describe the above ECG and its implications for the patient', 'What are the treatment options for a patient who has just been given a new diagnosis of AF', etc.

Not sure why you'd opt for such an assessment method over the more systematic multiple-choice and variants, but you could.
Oh I see, I was thinking of essays more along the lines of offering an interpretation or argument, or analysing evidence and weighing up pros and cons of a certain topic etc.
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