LIMS: The Kodachrome Exams.



[Helpful for: LU3 and LU4 (1st and 2nd Year)]

Assalamu Alaykum! (Greetings of Peace!)

We will jump from the topic on “lectures” to one of the dreaded yet fun type of exams: the Kodachrome exams!

This was supposed to be in the later part but knowing the schedule of the exams is already near, I have to push this post up the schedule in hopes of it to be of use somehow. Disclaimer! I am not the best guy to give you these tips, but because no one is doing it, then what’s the trouble of doing it instead? Haha!

So what is a Kodachrome exam? This one goes back in time immemorial when medstudents are still using the real kodachrome machine where pictures of specimens (usually tissues) will be projected on a white screen. (In LU4, you will experience using a real kodachrome machine thru Dr. Dimacali’s lectures in pathology :D). Nowadays we are using the overhead LCD projectors with the ever-so-convenient MS Powerpoint presentations where digital copies of the specimens will be projected and the students will be asked to identify them or answer certain questions in a limited allotted time. The term “kodachrome” is still being used for these kinds of exams.

So how do you nail these exams? Here are some helpful tips:

BEFORE THE EXAM:
1.       Never miss the Histology lectures!
Attend all your histology classes especially those by Dr. Mantaring. Just by attending her lectures, you will eventually feel like a genius who knows it all and you would never have to read the transes again. Nothing beats the experts in teaching you how to identify which is an epithelial tissue and which is not.

2.       Attend the Histology Reviews!
There will always be Histology reviews conducted especially for the LU3 students. The histo-review is usually conducted by the Medical Student Society (MSS) every year. This year’s first Histo-review was held last August 22 in BSLR-E and I hope the LU3s attended that one.
Exam Reviews are really helpful in giving you more ideas and tips on how to top or at least pass the exams. They would more often give you sample exam questions that you can try answering and see for yourself how ready you are for the exam. Never, ever miss the chance to attend any exam reviews. You will be really grateful to these guys later on when taking the exam.

3.       Read your books!
Refer to your Histology books (printed or electronic) and master all those seemingly similar images. They may look all the same to you, but try looking for “key points” in distinguishing which tissues you are looking at. Does it have more adipose, soft or skeletal tissues? Are there more mucous or serous layers? Are we looking at a keratinized or non-keratinized tissue? How do neutrophils differ from basophils, eosinophils and macrophages? Don’t rely on one image only, look for different images and see how you can distinguish them one from the other.
Of course, read the details in each image as well. There will be some questions in the exams that will require you to identify the function or the location where you can find these cells. Master them like how you master the faces and names of each pokemon and their powers. I’m serious!

4.       Review your notes/transes!
Same as your books, transes can also be handy. Important points are far easier to find in your transcriptions as they are already in summarized bullet form. I would prefer the online copies or colored printed copies because you could distinguish which is which (compared to photox copies which are terribly horrible).

5.       Test yourself in online sample quizzes.
If you still have some spare time, go online and find some student-friendly sites where you can test yourself in answering sample questions in histology. They are more often than not similar to what your professor will ask. Take note of your wrong answers and learn why you got it wrong and then immediately review your notes (unless if the topic was not included in the lectures).

6.       Pray.
Perhaps the most important one is this: Pray.
Our lives as medstudents are full of challenges and surprises. And there certain things you are not able to take control of. So first, do your part and study your lectures AND put your trust in God that He may make things easier for you during the exams. Do this every night before your exams and minutes before the exam starts, send a silent prayer, and start with Bismillah (In the name of Allah).

Now here’s what you should do DURING THE EXAM: 

1.       Stay focused.
Relax. Listen well to the instructions. Know how much time you have for each item. Don’t panic after knowing that you will be given only 30 seconds for each item. You have to stay focused all throughout the exam. Each item will only be shown once, so you have to maximize your limited time and focus on each item/question to identify or answer. 

2.       Find a good seat.
Do not sit in the back or the side-most part of the room! You will have a hard time identifying the image! DO NOT BE LATE so that you can choose where to sit. If you are free to sit anywhere, choose the 3rd or 4th seat from the front and a bit in the center and be sure that nothing is blocking you. But if you are arranged by surnames or student number, then you better hope and pray that you will have a good seat with a good view of the slides. If you are still unfortunate, then curse the seating arrangement. 

3.       Identify what you are looking at.
Upon your first view of the slide/image, immediately identify WHAT you are looking at. Is this a lung tissue? A skeletal tissue? A bone tissue? Or just your common adventitious tissues? For LU4/Patho students, is this a normal or an abnormal tissue? I usually do this before reading the question and it should only take you 3-7 seconds to decide. This will give you an idea where to find your answers. If it took you longer than that, then proceed to the question. Usually some questions will already tell you what tissue it is. 

4.       Read the questions carefully.
There are outright simple questions and there are also very hard ones. But the most errors we students commit are giving wrong answers because they read the questions wrong! Read the question twice; be sure that you really know what is being asked! There will be tricky questions with key terms as “EXCEPT”. Always read the questions carefully before answering.

5.       Believe in your first instinct.
This may not apply for all, but more often than not, your first answer will be the right one. After seeing the image and understanding the question well, you must already have a working answer. If your answer is among the choices, believe in your first instinct and choose that one.

6.        Cross out the choices.
If choices are provided, but your first answer is not among them, cross out the most farfetched answers. If there are two choices in your mind, weigh them in and choose the one closest to your first answer. If you are still not sure, take a mental note of which answers you have to choose from and return to this item later on. Remember you have only a limited time for each item, use your time wisely.

7.       Go back to your “undecided” items
If there are still time left after the last item, go back to your undecided items in #6. This is the time that you have to decide and choose among the two answers you have. Or just believe in your “guessing powers”.


Okay! I think this ends my “How to barely pass the Histo/Kodachrome Exam” tips haha. If you think something important is missing in this post, please don’t hesitate to inform me thru anakiluhmd@gmail.com 

Goodluck on your exams guys!

Salam Kasilasa!
Anakiluh, MD

For more posts under the "Life in Medschool Series" (LIMS) click here.
==this is done by a non-professional blogger, so expect a lot of typo and grammar errors :D==

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