Friday, December 19, 2008

Exams: Engineering vs. Medicine

Having just completed my first exams in med school, I have a fresh appreciation for the differences between finals in engineering and finals in medicine. I thought I'd save any poor engineering student who thinks switching over to medicine is a good idea (kidding of course!).

When studying for the finals, I would:

Engineering Exams
1. Start studying 2 days before the exam.
2. Make sure I understood general concepts and how to represent physical phenomena through mathematic formulas.
3. Catch up on a lot of missed tv shows.
4. Work out regularly.
5. Review the worksheets we were given throughout the term, 1-2 times.
6. Have a restful sleep the night before.
7. Walk into the exam confident I would do well.
8. Finish the 10-15 written questions with 30-45 minutes to spare, so that I could check over my work.

Medicine Exams
1. Start studying 2 weeks before the exam.
2. Make sure I memorized general concepts and specific details, like the recurrence probability of having a second child with down syndrome due to a 14, 21 Robertsonian translocation in either a man or a woman.
3. Blow up my tv to make sure I couldn't get distracted.
4. Get fat...(an effective studying technique because now my muscle cells can meet their basal metabolic needs longer due to the extra fat, which saves more glucose for my, who thinks like that, seriously...this is what med school has done to me!)
5. Run through every word in every notes package, workshop, and handout atleast 5-6 times...and there are a lot of handouts in med school. I'm pretty sure we're single handedly responsible for the deforestation of the temperate rainforests in BC.
6. Take up 5 new religions the night before, so that I have more gods to watch my back during the exam.
7. Walk into the exam happy that the system is pass/fail (well...for the moment anyways, I'm not really sure I see how a pass/fail system benefits our medical system).
8. Finish the 200+ multiple choice questions* with 5 minutes to spare, but my brain is too fried to look over much of my was a 4 hour exam (Yes the MCAT was longer, but it had breaks...and was MUCH easier).

*Note: This isn't your regular a to e multiple choice exam...some questions were a to p! We even had a multiple choice question that had 11 possible answers...and we had to pick 7 correct options!

Surprisingly, I didn't walk out of the exam thinking that the concepts we had to learn were more difficult than the material I learned in engineering. In fact, I actually feel like the concepts we learned in engineering were more difficult to understand (keep in mind this opinion may change since I finished 4 years of engineering...but I've only written ONE medical exam...the easiest one I will ever write apparently). However, I do think the exams in med school are much more stressful than any exam I wrote in engineering.

All this being said, I wouldn't discourage anyone from going to med school if being a doctor is what they really want to do. As much as I complain about the exam, it really wasn't that bad, and it's worth it considering this is what I want to do. Of course, maybe I'm just a massochist...don't ever trust anyone on the internet ;)

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