Saturday, October 06, 2012

Exam Day: Has come and gone...

The exam is over. What a relief. The 24 hours prior to the exam were the hardest. I was just ready for it to be over. And now it is!

I stopped studying at 7:30 pm the night before the exam and tried to focus on other things. I was the first one at the exam center on Friday morning, with a 7:40 am arrival since my colleagues dropped me off on their way to the hospital. The first person to show up after me came at 8:15! The official start time was 8:00 am. At 8:30 we were allowed to enter the exam room but there was still one person missing – he was stuck in traffic. I think we should have just started – seeing as it was clearly mentioned that we need to be on time. The final hour of waiting was agonizing. At least the invigilators decided to start handing out the answer sheets and exam instructions, which was quite entertaining. You see, there was a suitcase on one of the tables which was opened somewhat dramatically. The invigilator made sure to show us the big sealed DHL style envelopes containing the exam papers per specialty. Then there was a moment of hesitation when one of the invigilators said that a photo should be taken to prove that all of the envelopes were sealed, however, it was quickly decided that this wasn’t necessary. Next there was some discussion around ‘the clock’. There was a clock in the room but it did not have any markings. Then, to my surprise, one of the invigilators pulled another clock (with markings) out of the suitcase! After switching batteries from one clock to another, the exam papers were handed out and at the same time the final candidate arrived.

At 9:00 am the exam started. The first 15 questions were easy. I was surprised. I recognized topics and could answer all of the sub-questions. Then it became more difficult, with questions concerning topics I hadn’t even read up on. Normally, I’d take an educated guess and answer every question, however, this exam has NEGATIVE marking and so guessing is not a smart move. Basically your score is the number right minus the number wrong. One needs to find a balance in answering the right number of questions to get a passing mark. To make a long story short, I am now more concerned that I might not have answered enough questions to get a high enough mark because I was being overly cautious. I guess I will know in a week! The unfair thing is that for pediatrics 1 point is subtracted for every wrong answer, whereas for the other specialties only 1/5th is subtracted.  At 10:00 am there was another moment of panic when one of the invigilators said that pediatrics only had another 30 minutes. I was only on question 40 out of 100 (with 5 sub questions each). We were quick to speak up and say that the exam paper clearly states that we have 2 1/2 hours! Phew. So, at 11:30 we handed in our exam papers and left the room. We had to wait in the waiting room for another 30 minutes while the other specialties (who had 3 hours) finished their exam.

It was tough, but it’s over. Pass or fail, it’s done and I have time to do what I want! At least for a little while.  Of course, I would love to have passed in one go – I’ve never failed a medical exam and would like not to have to do all this studying again. However, if I do need to re-sit, it’s not the end of the world. I’d have 6 months (till April) and know exactly what topics I need to focus on (I think). Plus, the hospital won’t be accredited till March 2013 (that’s our goal!) and so I can’t start residency until that time anyway. If I pass, I probably still won't start clinicals till 2013. Right now, there's an x-ray department to set up!

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