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Making the Most out of Mid-Semester Exams

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

Next week we have the last mid-semester exam of our pre-clinical years so, in this week’s blog, I’m telling you a bit about how I’m preparing for the exam!

In Manchester Medical School, we have the mid-semester exam every semester after we’re done with half of the PBL cases for that semester. The exam is formative and tests us on all the PBL cases we’ve done so far for the semester. In this semester, which is semester 4, we have 9 PBL cases in total so we take our mid-semester exam after our 4th PBL case.

The medical school will open the exam at the start of next week and we can choose when to do it during the week. We do the exam by ourselves and it won’t count towards our grades so whether we take the exam seriously is our own call.

Preparing For the Exam

Although the mid-semester exam is formative, I like to take it seriously because I know that it’ll reflect the type of questions that are likely to be asked in the final exam which will be summative. So, I try to prepare for it, although not as intensely as I would prepare for the final exam.

A week before the exam, I would reread all my PBL notes to make sure I understand all the important concepts that we needed to know. I don’t get too bogged up in the details, usually because I don’t really have time for that. During the same week that the mid-semester exam is happening, we also have to work on another PBL case so we have limited time to study for the exam.

If I have time, I would also just look through my lecture notes very quickly, focusing on the slides that I think are important. I would also try to see if there is anything I don’t understand and quickly look those up and add those to my notes.

For all the mid-semester exams, I always forget to look over my anatomy notes so this time, I’m also saving myself some time to do that.

Taking the Exam

Some people choose not to take the mid-semester exams for some reason but I would always give it a try.

It’s a chance for me to see what type of questions they like to ask for the semester and also if my notes are detailed enough. I’ve also heard that for semester 4, questions tend to be quite clinical so I really want to see how they are going to turn out. I might have to change some parts of my notes if the questions are really clinical because I think I focused quite a bit on detailed mechanisms. I’m not too sure if I am really focusing on clinical aspects as much now.

I just want to see how much I’ve learned so far for this semester and I would be completely fine with no achieving a high score for the exam. The purpose of me taking the exam is to know if there is anything, I could do to improve my notes and to see if there are any details that I’ve missed.

After the Exam

Since we get our score report and the questions we get wrong instantly after the exams, I usually try to go over my answers. I try to reason why my answers are wrong for some questions. Is it because I don’t know the answer or because I don’t understand the concept behind the right answer? Depending on this, I would either add to my notes or would try to understand some parts of my notes better.

I would also revisit the mid-semester exam right before our finals because sometimes some of the questions from the mid-semester exam get asked again for the finals.

That’s all my tips and tricks for getting the most out of the mid-semester exams. If you think this blog gave you some insight into being a medical student, check out our other blogs or go follow our Instagram!


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