Sunday, January 3, 2016

Preparing for MCQ exams in Medical School

Well, hi again! Jay here. Today I’m gonna discuss about how to prepare for MCQ points in your exams.
If your college is like mine, where MCQ is the main format of asking questions in Med school, my friend, you are not alone in feeling helpless or lost in sometimes. For some of us, explaining stuff makes more sense but the truth is in MCQs you really cannot explain. You have to be on point.
So without further time wasting, here I am with my points which works for me. But I really understand it could be different from person to person. If you have some more points, why not comment down below? ;)

  1. Read the Bold or Italic print in the text book more importantly. The professors have a bigger tendency to ask questions from those points.
  2. When you start reading a chapter, check weather if there are any numerical values in the text. Remember those points, trust me the professors are keen to get around numerals. Even if not the exact numbers, they might ask ranges around it.
  3. Tables ; Yes of course, there are hell lot of tables we gotta handle when in med school. To start with the simplest type of tables, like Substance Values in ECF and ICF is one of the first things a M1(First Year) medical student will find. Take a note of these tables, and don’t over look them in the hope that you would catch them up in the following text. It is much condensed and less time consuming to read and memorize through tables. And if the numbers make no sense in order or hierarchy, try to make connections between numbers and memorize in a fun way. If the Table is about two facts of texts, (Examples – Indicators of Body Fluid compartment measurements) then try to understand whats going on inside those words, rather than simple memorizing. Always ask, WHY?
  4. Understand Etymology – You are gonna ask me, “Ok Jay, WTH is etymology?” , well roughly, Etymology is the origin of words. As we all know, many medical terms are based in Latin and Greek. Sometimes understanding what the word really means, already gives the answer for the question. For certain subjects like Anatomy where pure memorization is the key to success, knowing some Latin and Greek would certainly come in handy. (Profundus – Deep | Lysis – Break down etc)
  5. Read over the text first before delving yourself into finer minute details. The first impression of the chapter is going to give you a holistic idea of whats going on. Then read for detailed words. When you do this, you are much more like filling a puzzle, rather than building a wall from the scratch. You already know, what this is. And you learn how to fill up the spaces that’s left alone without the need to build up everything from the beginning. This is also called FACTOID LEARNING.
  6. We have a great tendency to remember facts and factoids, which are important for MCQs. This is also linked to above tables and texts. Break the tables and texts in to facts or factoids. Rather than trying to remember them, try to understand them. Then however twisted the professor asks questions, you can get around with it.
  7. This may sound absolutely crazy, and stupid! But Translating the notes or review points into another language you know helps you memorize them. (At least to me!) I often translate my points to French, which is another language I have basic knowledge in. I think this helps because, in order to translate, we have to concentrate a lot and we focus on the matter which helps us memorizing.(Side advantage – You get to brush up your language memory, or even learn a new one)
  8. In clinical questions, from the very beginning, you have to get a holistic idea on the particular disease or the condition. Treat every disease as a different entity first, and when you are clear with it, then try to combine it with the similar diseases and build your own DDx. This is going to help in Clinically related MCQs.
These are few advices for you when you are PREPARING for MCQs. Not tackling them during the exams. If I remember anything more, I will keep updating the list.
Thanks alot.
With love,


  1. Lovely, do keep it up. You have an audience here, a Medical student from Nigeria.


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