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Dear readers,

This past weekend, our M1 class completed our first “Patients and Populations” quiz!  For those who haven’t heard, UMMS has a “flextime quiz” system, which basically means you can log onto a computer in our Learning Resource Center or our student lounge and take a ~40-question multiple choice quiz anytime between 5pm on Friday afternoon and 11pm (start time) on Sunday evening.  Early quizzers open up the weekend for relaxation, travel, and fun activities, while later quizzers can pack more into their week and use the weekend to do a lot of preparation and review.  There’s a spectrum of study techniques, of course, but these are the two extremes.  I personally took the quiz Sunday at around 1:30pm, had Sunday afternoon off to relax and visit Zingerman’s Delicatessen for a post-quiz celebratory lunch, and also went out for more celebration and ice cream at the Washtenaw Dairy with a group of ~30 M1s that evening (med students travel in packs as you’ll learn).

More about the quizzes for those who are curious: because the USMLE Step 1 is a computer-based & multiple choice exam, it’s actually really great that we’re specifically preparing for this test format during our pre-clerkship years rather than continuing the college-style pencil/paper exams with endless free-response sections. One concern that some students had coming in was the frequency of quizzes–we basically have a quiz or a final exam for a “sequence” (3-5 weeks of a particular topic, also called a “block”  at other schools) every weekend (except Thanksgiving/winter/spring breaks), which makes for frequent review and check-up on a week’s worth of material.  It sounds intense in theory, but with Michigan’s truly Pass/Fail grading system, the pressure to get the highest score possible is alleviated (note: the mean score for our first quiz  was about a 92%, so our class still performs overall beyond the minimum requirements to pass (75%) because of the environment of intellectual curiosity and shared passion for learning, but the comfort zone is going to be nice to have this year). Real (tiered) grades will hit us in two years on the wards, but for now, we’re still acclimating to Ann Arbor, learning best practices for studying in medical school, and enjoying the rest of the summer!