Success! Passing my first MCQ bioscience exam

Success! Passing my first MCQ bioscience exam

The clock hit 9am, and I excused myself from the ward where I’d been working since 7am. Hospitals seem to be black holes of signal, sucking precious 3G along with the means of communication with the outside world, so I positioned myself awkwardly outside between a lampost and the wall. Two maintenance men were doing something with a lamppost involving snippers and trailing bits of multicoloured wire but there was no time to stop and stare. There was no time for pleasant ‘helloes’, and ‘move out of my ways’ no.

Pressing the app on my phone, I cursed myself for forgetting my login details while frantically opening my emails to find the right password. Eventually, my clumsy hands managed to get access to my student app. But where was my mark? WHERE WAS IT?!

I panicked. On the group Whatsapp chat everyone had their scores, and they were all passed. The test – an advanced multiple choice quiz on half the anatomy and physiology knowledge we needed to complete the year – had a 40% pass rate. 30-odd questions. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Oh how wrong you are.

FLASHBACK. Everything goes white and we slowly fade back into a library classroom full of computers. Your editor sits, palms sweaty, mouth dry, as she scans the 70 randomly assigned questions. She looks around the room at everyone else busy picking the right answers. I looked to mine.

‘The renal _________ is the innermost part of the kidney through which the nephrons sit.’

Ok. Kidney. Not too bad. Now the answers. Pyramids, arteries, medulla, veins, tubules.

My mind went blank. Weeks of revision and a mega-quick refresher that morning and I had no idea. I had no idea for 40 of the 70 questions. I knew 10 definitely. I could hazard a guess for the rest. Which meant getting 20 questions I kinda knew right to pass, with the odd smattering of correct guesses here and there.

My mouse hovers over medulla as I click…

FLASHFORWARD. To, er, results day. The day I’d waited for, for over three weeks.

I opened the app again, and couldn’t see my score. I was on the verge of hyperventilating. The maintenance men pointed and asked if I was ok. I explained, and they nodded their heads in sombre understanding. Everyone understands the panic of failing an exam.

I spun my phone around, my stomach churning, and there it was. My score. 80/100, or 80%. I’d PASSED!

Screaming a little bit, I ran back inside and told my mentor who congratulated me. She told me I needed more confidence – maybe I did. Maybe I still do. I have another one of these, I think, at some point this year. Will I repeat the exact same procedure next time?

Damn right.

And it’s medulla, btw.