Have the gods withdrawn their favor from me? Am I no longer allowed to live my life without the wrathful interference of a vengeful deity? These are the questions that stand out most in my head, as having to take 3 finals, 1 exam, 3 SHELF board exams, and then 1 last final is enough to make me feel like Hera’s least favorite stepson. All who went before had cautioned me about the Med 2 semester, about its laboriousness and difficulty. Yet I flew freely without a care like Icarus. After those series of exams at the end of the semester, I felt like I had flown too high and was suffering some severe sunburn.
Let me elaborate. A full load Med 2 semester has four subjects: Neuroscience, Physiology, Biochemistry, and Genetics. Now, for the first three exams, you take the exam for all four of them back to back – that is about 5.5 hours of exam time. However, for finals week, you – or at least my batch – had in sequence: Mon-Physiology final, Tues – Neuroscience final, Wed – Biochem final, Thurs – Genetics mini 4, Mon – Biochem SHELF, Wed – Physiology SHELF, Fri – Neuroscience SHELF, Mon – Genetics final. Two weeks, eight exams. You may now see why I felt afflicted by disfavor from the gods.
The worst part of these exams was not so much having to take them, considering we already did four exams back to back three times that semester. Indeed, one gets used to sitting there for a couple of hours and clicking through questions, as these were hard exams (especially the Physio SHELF). No, the hard part was motivating myself to study for these exams, especially since the final was cumulative (approx. 50% old and 50% new) and then the SHELF, which is clearly cumulative. The idea of slogging through the information multiple times is one that failed to set my ardor alight, and instead managed to dampen it to the point where it would be difficult to even tell whether a pilot light was even present.
To slog through it required multiple nights with barely even 30 minutes of sleep, let alone a full night. I tried to stay focused on the exam when my mind wanted to ramble and explore the path presented by a fatigue high as much as possible. However, to me this seems to be good practice as the USMLE Step 1 is 7+ hours long, and the ability to focus despite extreme exhaustion must be something that will come in handy. All in all, to be done with that semester brought such a rush of relief that clicking the submit button on my last exam was tantamount to an emancipation from this heavy semester. Hopefully, a bugle call to a future, easier Med 3 semester.
by Prakash Jayanthi, Class of 2014