Posted tagged ‘neuroscience’

How to Survive Semester 2

January 14, 2009

When other students tell you that semester 2 is tough, they’re not lying. Even the people I know who passed with flying colors can attest to moments of misery and my Mini III neuro grade was like a chess gambit that could have gone horribly wrong (but didn’t, thank God!). Even though the course work builds on what you learned in semester 1, semester 2 is a whole new ballgame. Here are some tips that might help you play it better than I did.

  • Kill the Practicals!

The practical exams in Anatomy, Histology and Neuroscience may not seem like big deals but doing well on them can save you a lot of stress and grief when it’s time for the shelves. Try to knock them out of the park or at least get a nice healthy B. For anatomy, spend time in the lab, go to TA sessions (and ask your pals about their TAs! Not all TA sessions are created equal; just because you’re assigned to one session doesn’t mean you have to attend it. Shop around!) Also, spend some time with skulls and guts. You can check out a skull from the anatomy secretary (if you sign one out on Friday afternoon, you can have it for the whole weekend!) For guts, you’ll have to wait until that dissection. For neuro, the TA sessions are also very informative (again, shop around – different TAs have sessions each night). The neuroscience society holds a mock practical (mocktical) before the first practical and it is well worth the $5 EC admission fee. For histo, ask around for the labeled or powerpoint slides.

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Fortnight of Hell – Addendum B – How Not to Prepare

December 15, 2008

Available from the NBME website is a. pdf of sample questions for each of the subject tests they offer as well as a breakdown of topics covered on the test. Having been soundly rocked by the neuroscience shelf, I can tell you that those questions are NOT indicative of the level of difficulty of the exam. In fact, the sample questions will trick you into thinking that you are better prepared than you actually are. After studying for most of the weekend, I tried the 20 neuroscience questions as well as the clinical neurology questions and  handled them pretty well. ‘Okay,’ I thought to myself. ‘This shouldn’t be so bad.’ Oh, how wrong I was…

I’d also used the questions to gauge my performance prior to the other shelves and they didn’t seem so misleading for biochem or histology. One of my pals mentioned that they’d been ridiculously easy compared to the anatomy shelf, which kind of kicked our butts on Friday, but I didn’t notice how off the questions were until today. If you’d like an idea of how questions are worded or of how long question stems will be, the samples give you a pretty good idea. However, assume that the sample questions are representative of the easiest ones that will be included. Don’t be fooled by your facility with them. Stick with BRS.

At least I’m nearly done – there’s the physiology shelf tomorrow morning, widely acknowledged to be the most difficult of the bunch (especially since some of the concepts covered on it are not topics that have been covered in our physiology course) and then, Mini III on Thursday afternoon. The neuro shelf left me feeling like I’d been hit in the head and I’m really starting to get to the point the upperclassmen warned me about: the point at which the fatigue of all this examination has one wanting to bubble in all ‘C’s and be done, just to get it over with. The physio shelf is worth 15% of the total physio grade, whereas the physio portion of Mini III is worth 35%, so I’m going to spend the next couple of days essentially preparing to annihilate Mini III and hope that that overcomes any poor shelf showing.

It’s the final stretch – wish me luck!