Today I had my first official exam at medical school and it was what’s known as the “progress test”. This is a form of assessment used by some, but not every medical school. It’s essentially a test that all the students in the medical school (yes, ALL the first years ALL the way to the fifth years) take, with the aim that as you progress through the years your result should improve.

Being only in first year now, taking this test isn’t really the biggest deal because I can’t expect to know the answers to the questions. In fact, considering how much of the course I’ve completed so far, I expected that I should only be able to attempt 1/10 of the questions. But how was it really like?

Having now done the test I thought it’d be quite interesting to reflect on how it felt to knowingly go in unprepared to a test. It certainly is odd to have to sit a test with the aim to not do so well. After all, the purpose of the progress test is to show that you’ve progressed…and that can only be done if you are prepared to start low.

The one word to describe the experience of doing this test would be frustrating, because you want to get the right answer and give it your best shot, but once you read even the very first question is becomes quite clear that even an educated guess won’t be possible. As I progressed through the paper, the fact that this would all just be a huge 2 and a half hour long guessing game continued to reiterate itself. Thankfully it was s multiple choice exam though, so I could even guess my way through the 125 questions. Who knew colouring in 125 random circles would be so time-consuming!

Before taking the test I expected that the questions would probably be equally distributed across different areas of the course, but it wasn’t really…all the questions were of a clinical nature. In years 1 and 2 our focus is on the underlying Bioscience, the theory rather than the clinical application. So in some ways, doing this test felt completely foreign. So many words I’ve never heard of and would never be able to guess the meaning of.

So that’s how the test appeared, but in terms of feelings…I knew it was going to be like that. It’s like a GCSE Biology Student sitting an A Level Biology exam, they might pick up the odd mark or so, but ultimately they won’t do exceptionally well. I don’t feel upset or disappointed with how the test went, because I know that’s how it was supposed to be. It’s was supposed to be hard and impossible for me and it’s purpose will be served if I get a low result and then learn to improve on it.


Posted by:Life of a Medic

5 replies on “My First Progress Test!

  1. My first progress test was similar. Use first year just to get yourself used to the way MCQ progress tests work. Don’t stress too much about your mark.

    There’s some exam techniques you can learn and use to optimise your marks with little effort. But generally, as you progress through the years you will improve along with the rest of your cohort. Don’t worry if a few others get great scores right from the off as everyone eventually levels out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that…whatever my score ends up being I’m putting it down to pure luck!

      I’m expecting that the progress test will only be actually attemptable once I get to third year since we start more clinical learning then, but hopefully I can still improve in some way as I take each one.

      Liked by 1 person

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