As some of you know, I had exams about a week ago. Had 2 written papers and 1 practical (OSCE). It could easily be the hardest exam I have ever endured. I was mentally drained after each exam - I had never struggled so much in an exam. Our year had our exams re-written to a new format so we were going into the exam blind as we were told 3 days before our exam that the specimen papers that were put online are not representative of what we will be examined on. Instilling so much confidence into us (sarcasm). So pretty much we were all pooping ourselves prior to exams as we have no idea what to expect. We didn't even know what to study or how to study for this exam so the general consensus was "We are so screwed." It didn't help that we were told that the previous year 1 in 5 students had failed (20%). The scare tactics had been brutal and was pretty much messing with our confidence (quite unprofessional of the director to be honest). We were also told that the director was going to fail 20% of the year again so everyone was extremely scared. Horrible way to go into an exam.
Anyways the first paper I had was multiple choice and I swear once I finished the exam it felt like someone had continuously kicked my brain. I couldn't even think straight afterwards. The exam was 1.5 hours and the exam we took was definitely for a 2 hour time limit. I had BARELY just finished the exam. I was on my last question with only 10 minutes to spare. Didn't even get time to check. Mind you I'm not a slow exam taker...for the last 2 years I have finished my multiple choice papers in 30 minutes and the last two years my exam had 90 question and a 2 hour time limit. This year we had 60 questions with a 1.5 hour time limit. Each question was a massive paragraph to read. It was really frustrating as it takes just a minute to read the question. You seriously start to wonder if anyone had checked the exam paper and tried doing it to make sure it is possible to finish the paper in 1.5 hours. I had several friends who couldn't even finish this paper. Most people only did about 40ish questions out of 60. What a way to start the exam week.
Next day was the OSCE practical exam. 12 stations. 6 patient histories. 6 physical examinations. I was fairly confident going into this as I feel that I'm strong at doing practicals. Anyways the exam was 2 hours and it was so hectic and a lot more difficult than I had expected it to be. Should've known if I had based it on the previous day's exam. The instructions that were given in each station were long and very confusing. It would be like "Please do _____ examination on the patient BUT do not do _____, ______, _____, and _______; BUT remember to assess _______." Mind you the time you take to read the instructions is part of the time you're supposed to perform the physical examination so the longer you take to read, the less time you have to do the physical examination. You're already nervous and anxious, so when seeing such unclear instructions your brain gets all jumbled up. Personally I thought I did okay in the OSCE. Did however watch one examiner fail me in a patient history station for no reason. Everyone else in my circuit was complaining about the same examiner as he was giving everyone just half marks and was being very stingy/strict. Quit frustrating.
Final day was modified essay question paper. Obviously every one was petrified of this exam as based on how the last 2 days went - this exam will be ridiculously hard. Also because a lot of people couldn't finish the first paper, a lot of people were relying on this final paper to pull their mark up. This year we have to pass our written papers overall and pass the OSCE individually. For the first time in 2.5 years, people were studying prior to the exam. Usually we would all be standing around and being really relaxed. The air was so tense, it was ridiculous. My heart was thumping and I saw people being sick right before the exam. The nerves were through the roof. Got to the exam...and oh....my....goodness. We were asked really rare conditions which were probably mentioned in 1 slide of a random lecture. Again more people got up to be sick in the toilet. One girl passed out in the final 10 minutes of the exam. Some people threw the paper on the floor and just left in disgust. What an exam.
"Time is up. Can everyone please stop writing and close their papers."
I have never heard such a quiet exam hall after the exam. No one was celebrating as it was our last exam. No one was cheering. Every one looked shocked/disappointed/upset. People left the exam building in record time. The mood was quite solemn. No one was in the mood to do anything. Had lunch with friends and most of my friends had lost their appetite. To be honest, when I finished that last exam, it was the very first time I said to myself: "I am going to fail." I was already thinking how I was going to tell my parents. I was so convinced I had failed it was eating me up inside.
Medicine is not easy. Again confirming my belief you have to be mentally strong to study Medicine. It is mentally and physically grueling. You have to be determined. There will be several up and downs as I have faced in this new phase. Probably the worst 6 months of medical school I have ever endured. It was like going through Medicine Boot Camp. Medics certainly do have a crazy life. It is never a straight line. Never take it for granted you're in medicine - anything can happen.