Sunday, November 30, 2008

In case you're wondering...

The exams are over. I'm not sure how I feel about them. They were hard, yes, but not as bad as the original exams.

I thought day 1 was hard but reasonable. I found that I knew (or thought I knew) the answers to more questions than before, and wasn't left to guess between 2 options as much as last time. I was feeling quite good that night, but the more I thought about it, the more unsure I was.

I'd spoken to a few other re-sitters after day 1, and they were freaking out. It made me feel a little bit better, but then I started to doubt myself.

So I was a bit nervous going into day 2. That exam was a bit better than the day 1 exam, so overall I should be feeling positive about it, but I'm certainly not celebrating yet.

My post-exam policy is not to discuss specific questions, or go home and look up answers. It's too stressful, and will only upset me. However I made an exception after day 1 - I checked the dermatomes because I was sure I'd stuffed up a gimme question. I was right. I'm so frustrated that I displayed classic KT exam behaviour - my first instinct was to choose the correct answer, and then I proceeded to talk myself out of it, and I chose another answer, which was wrong. Aaaaagh!

Oh - and after we were assured, nay promised, that there would be no repeat questions on the exam, what do you think we found? At least 5 questions were repeated from our Barrier. Not that many, but it's still incredibly unfair. For example, I was chatting with one of the guys from another clinical school afterwards, and he said, "That methotrexate question was repeated from the Barrier. I got it wrong before, but I knew the right answer this time."

We've decided to wait for the results, and submit an appeal if things go pear-shaped. Actually either way we have to say something - it's extremely dodgy to get a promise from the head of the Assessment Unit, and have that promise brazenly broken. Do I think it made a difference? Probably not. But is it right? No way.

Some of the questions were laughable, literally. There were a few questions where I chuckled to myself and thought, "When did we ever learn that?" And then I did "eeny, meeny, miny, moe".

None of us felt like celebrating after the exams finished. It was a bit depressing. But now I'm getting used to the fact that I'm on holidays. Yay! We get the results on Friday.

And I've got a good distraction - my sister had a baby yesterday! A gorgeous little boy - the first baby in our family. Here's a picture (about 5 hours old):

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting close...

Apologies for the lack of updates - though really, there hasn't been a lot to say. Pretty much all I've been doing is studying. And I'm so BORED! The exams are on Thursday morning and Friday morning.

The study group continued until the week before last. It was good, but I think six people was too many - it should've been two groups of three people. As I mentioned in my last post, I found the sessions where we worked through past papers to be the most rewarding.

For the past couple of weeks, we've been doing our own thing. I haven't been going into the hospital as much - I've just been studying at home.

I think the best thing about this (forced) extra study time is that I now understand some concepts that I'd previously skimmed over due to lack of time, or interest, or both. I feel like I'm much more capable of working things out from first principles, instead of rote learning things without fully understanding them.

My colleagues and I had another lovely encounter with the Faculty recently. Here's the story (in probably a bit too much boring detail)...

When I first found out that I'd failed, I emailed the Assessment Unit and asked to view my paper. I was told that this could be done, but my clinical school had to request the paper from the Assessment Unit, and a rep from the clinical school would go through the paper with me as part of my remediation. So I asked the clinical school to arrange this. They refused, saying that the Assessment Unit person was incorrect and that no-one was allowed to see their paper. This was frustrating, but I didn't feel strongly enough about it to fight (figured I had bigger things to worry about), and left it at that.

A few weeks later, we found out that students from another clinical school had viewed their papers. We asked our clinical school again, and again they refused. So I emailed the Assessment Unit, and asked whether we could view our papers without going through the clinical school. Again I was refused - and also annoyed, because the Assessment Unit person CC'd the sub-dean from my clinical school when she replied to my email. "Great," I thought. "Now I'm pegged as a troublemaker."

Then we heard that students from two other clinical schools had also viewed their papers. One of my colleagues contacted our sub-dean, who contacted his counterpart at another clinical school, who confirmed that students there had viewed their papers. So our sub-dean finally gave in and set up a meeting for us with the head of the Assessment Unit (who also happens to be a doctor at our clinical school).

The meeting was at 8am, and it was a colossal waste of time. Of course, we didn't get to view our papers. The head of the Assessment Unit explained all the reasons for this - new pool of questions, don't want the questions to be leaked to other students, the other clinical schools broke the rules, etc. Our main concern was that we would be disadvantaged if any questions from the previous exam were repeated on our re-sit. He assured us that there would be no repeat questions - in fact, he assured us of this so vehemently that I thought he'd say, "Cross my heart and hope to die"!

Apart from that, he told us how we should be studying for the exam - that we should be seeing patients on the wards and setting up a study group. Valid points, yes, but not 2 weeks before the bloody exam! The only piece of new information we got from the meeting was that the re-sit would be easier than the Barrier. He said that the ridiculously hard questions (my words) that were in the Barrier were only there for curiosity's sake - to separate the best of the best. In our re-sit, those questions are pointless.

So I've got 3 days left to study, and I've still got a lot to cover. I'm feeling slightly nervous, but remain confident that I can do it. I can't wait until 11am on Friday!

Thanks again to everyone who commented on my other posts - your support is wonderful!