Studying for a test that doesn’t count is shady business

Monday is our only immunology test/final.  The grades “will not be recorded” and “are not official”, but word of mouth says that anyone who fails could still get called in to talk to the Dean.   (Although I wonder if this is  less “anyone who fails” and more like “anyone who ended up with a 25%, clearly having just picked random answers“.)


My strategy has been to get a solid understanding of the main ideas, but mostly ditch the class notes to study for Step 1 instead.  (That’s what “unofficial test” means, right?  “Just study for boards”?  I’m guessing blindly here.)

So I listen to the lectures for the main idea, then only study/memorize the parts that First Aid mentions.  For me, this means I get to spend tons of time on microbiology and feel “caught up” and fulfilled, without necessarily having to know that there are 7 beta-sheets in an Ig molecule.

Of course, I actually do know that now, but that’s only because of the following conversation:

Me:  How bad can it be?  2 questions per lecture, they’re not gonna be asking us whether immunoglobulins have 3 vs 4 alpha-helices, you know?
Amy:  Hahaha, that would be hilarious!  “Alpha-helices.” Hah.
Me:  .. Wait, what?
Amy:  … it’s funny, right?  Because there’s actually 7 beta-pleated sheets?
Me: …
Amy:  What?
Me:  Uh, I’ve changed my mind.  Suddenly I can see how the test could be kind of hard.

So after getting killed on tons of detail questions at our study group tonight (number of amino acids in peptides? Really?), I’ve resigned myself to cramming tomorrow – just in case.  I have no idea if I should have been doing more from the start –  I mean, I’m pretty satisfied with just being able to answer most of the USMLE practice questions Boyfriend sent me – but.. I just really suck at everything involving subunits, 2nd messengers, and CCLXs.

If this test really doesn’t count, I’ll have saved a lot of time and stress by being crazy on top of microbiology.  And if this test does count… well, I guess I’ll learn a valuable life lesson about trying to take shortcuts?

4 thoughts on “Studying for a test that doesn’t count is shady business

  1. Oh the joys of tests that don’t count. We had one of those on Thursday, it was called the qualifying exam. I think it was an exercise in tourting VM3s and teaching them that they do know something, but they also don’t know a lot. It was the exam vets who went to school outside of the country and that are coming in for 4th year rotations have to take. I think it was our school’s way of predicting who will pass the NAVLE in November/December. We were told, however, not to study for the exam so I didn’t. 🙂

    And, your theroy is right. An unoffical test is so you study for the boards. Learn it now and reviewing for it will be easier before boards. Our last systemic pathology exam 2nd year was like that, although he didn’t tell us it was an exam that didn’t count for anything. We studied our butts off and then came in to take the exam. The exam had one question and the anwser was dingle berries. We all got A’s.

  2. I am convinced the pre-clinical years of medical school are not so much to teach you medicine as to see if you’re disciplined enough to work hard.

    • Hmmm, I thought that was what the second semester of ochem was for..

      Kidding. I’ve studied hard enough to do rock any USMLE-style Immuno questions. And after 5 hours of cramming, I’m feeling like I can talk through a good amount of the details found only in the lectures… so we’ll see.

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