Clintbarton
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Hi
I am a second year medical student and have had to resit my first exam in first year. I just got my exam results and have to resit an exam for second year. I am feeling really downtrodden because I don't know where I am going wrong - I know that I know my content but I can't seem to answer questions in exams as they're multiple choice.
Does anyone have any advice? I am so angry with myself at the moment that I genuinely considered dropping out.
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singzeon
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Sorry to hear that.

I think there are multiple things to consider here. The first is: why exactly do you want to drop out? Is it simply because you've failed your first- and second-year exams? I can imagine it must be very demoralising for you, but dropping out solely because of that isn't going to help. You'd then have to think of what to do next. If, however, there are other reasons e.g. you find your interest in medicine dropping, then maybe it's worth thinking about it seriously. Either way, I would say that dropping out should be a last resort, or if the benefits of dropping out outweighs any cons (kind of like weighing treatment options).

The second thing to consider is: what exactly made you fail your exams? Was the same reason behind the first-year failure and this recent one? I'm not sure how much exam feedback your school provides, but it may be worth asking them for more if possible. You claim that you know your content 'but can't seem to answer questions' as they are MCQ - what exactly do you mean by this? Do you have a hard time eliminating between choices? Are you stuck between two and end up picking one (which may turn out to be incorrect)? If so, unfortunately, this may mean that you still haven't fully mastered the content. There are a few levels of understanding content - one is where you recognise it if it appears, but you may not be able to explain it from scratch. Many people, including myself, often mistake this level as 'understanding'; in a way, you do, however in an exam, with stress and tricky MCQ choices, your understanding may start to be shaken. Hence, I think you need to look at your level of understanding as well.

Assuming your level of understanding is adequate, then what exactly causes you to underperform? Do you have exam stress or other psychological causes? If so, you may want to approach your school's pastoral team where they may be able to better advise you. You should then work towards managing the psychological causes (if so).

Third thing: after your first-year failure, did you do any analysis of your content mastery and learning style? If so, did you attempt anything differently in second year and how did they work out? Prior to your exams, did you try out any questions and how did you fare on them? I think these, if applicable, may also help you figure out where the problem lies. How much did you fail by? Was it missed by a few marks, or 10 - 20 marks?

You mentioned failing your MCQ exam. What about OSCEs? If you did well on them, then maybe you only have some issue with MCQs (consideration 2). Also, since you are pre-clinical, it could be that the questions set are very theoretical (and not clinical), and you have a hard time with them. Of course, you still do need to pass it, but once you get pass that, then years 3 - 5 will have clinical MCQs which hopefully are better. If you failed them as well, or just passed, then maybe you do have a more serious problem with the course overall, which would lead to consideration 1 (whether to drop out or not).

Hope this helps. Sorry if I may be a bit too harsh at some parts above.
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Clintbarton
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Report Thread starter 8 months ago
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(Original post by singzeon)
Sorry to hear that.

I think there are multiple things to consider here. The first is: why exactly do you want to drop out? Is it simply because you've failed your first- and second-year exams? I can imagine it must be very demoralising for you, but dropping out solely because of that isn't going to help. You'd then have to think of what to do next. If, however, there are other reasons e.g. you find your interest in medicine dropping, then maybe it's worth thinking about it seriously. Either way, I would say that dropping out should be a last resort, or if the benefits of dropping out outweighs any cons (kind of like weighing treatment options).

The second thing to consider is: what exactly made you fail your exams? Was the same reason behind the first-year failure and this recent one? I'm not sure how much exam feedback your school provides, but it may be worth asking them for more if possible. You claim that you know your content 'but can't seem to answer questions' as they are MCQ - what exactly do you mean by this? Do you have a hard time eliminating between choices? Are you stuck between two and end up picking one (which may turn out to be incorrect)? If so, unfortunately, this may mean that you still haven't fully mastered the content. There are a few levels of understanding content - one is where you recognise it if it appears, but you may not be able to explain it from scratch. Many people, including myself, often mistake this level as 'understanding'; in a way, you do, however in an exam, with stress and tricky MCQ choices, your understanding may start to be shaken. Hence, I think you need to look at your level of understanding as well.

Assuming your level of understanding is adequate, then what exactly causes you to underperform? Do you have exam stress or other psychological causes? If so, you may want to approach your school's pastoral team where they may be able to better advise you. You should then work towards managing the psychological causes (if so).

Third thing: after your first-year failure, did you do any analysis of your content mastery and learning style? If so, did you attempt anything differently in second year and how did they work out? Prior to your exams, did you try out any questions and how did you fare on them? I think these, if applicable, may also help you figure out where the problem lies. How much did you fail by? Was it missed by a few marks, or 10 - 20 marks?

You mentioned failing your MCQ exam. What about OSCEs? If you did well on them, then maybe you only have some issue with MCQs (consideration 2). Also, since you are pre-clinical, it could be that the questions set are very theoretical (and not clinical), and you have a hard time with them. Of course, you still do need to pass it, but once you get pass that, then years 3 - 5 will have clinical MCQs which hopefully are better. If you failed them as well, or just passed, then maybe you do have a more serious problem with the course overall, which would lead to consideration 1 (whether to drop out or not).

Hope this helps. Sorry if I may be a bit too harsh at some parts above.
Hi! Thanks for this response.
To summarise basically: I failed by three marks but I completely understand why. Last year (I didn’t mean I failed a main exam I failed a mini anatomy test and I panicked because it’s the first thing I’ve ever failed haha!) I was weak as hell on my anatomy so this year I focused way too much on anatomy which is only a small segment of the final exam. I did really well on this part but lacked in the others purely because I didn’t focus enough on them. I revised them over Easter and Christmas - obviously not enough to retain it and just didn’t plan it out well enough in my head because I just wanted to do well in my weakest subject area.
I still want to be a doctor. It’s my passion and always will be and I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is just a minor bump and I’m glad I realised where I went wrong. I’ve always been rubbish at exams but I guess with this career I’m gonna have to learn to improve 😂.
Thanks once again
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singzeon
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Well it sounds like you've got it figured out after all. All the best
(Original post by Clintbarton)
Hi! Thanks for this response.
To summarise basically: I failed by three marks but I completely understand why. Last year (I didn’t mean I failed a main exam I failed a mini anatomy test and I panicked because it’s the first thing I’ve ever failed haha!) I was weak as hell on my anatomy so this year I focused way too much on anatomy which is only a small segment of the final exam. I did really well on this part but lacked in the others purely because I didn’t focus enough on them. I revised them over Easter and Christmas - obviously not enough to retain it and just didn’t plan it out well enough in my head because I just wanted to do well in my weakest subject area.
I still want to be a doctor. It’s my passion and always will be and I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is just a minor bump and I’m glad I realised where I went wrong. I’ve always been rubbish at exams but I guess with this career I’m gonna have to learn to improve 😂.
Thanks once again
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