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Course Evaluation

POINTS = Exams (85% Block exams, 15% NBME Final exam) + added experience (0-4 pts) + (1 point for all 6 evaluations)
Grade: Honors = 90 and above; High pass = 83 to 89; Pass = 75-82; low pass = 70-74; fail = 69 or below

There will be six block exams using USMLE formatting, 3 in the Fall, and 3 in the Spring. These exams are worth 85% of your grade. The final comprehensive NBME 'shelf' exam is worth 15%. The Pathology exams will be coordinated with, if not necessarily on the same day as, the Introduction to Clinical Medicine examinations as the year progresses.

There will be a variable number of questions per exam. The total number of questions for the 6 exams will serve as the basis for the percent final block score, worth 85% of your grade.

The block exams will primarily concentrate on the material covered during that block. HOWEVER, and IMPORTANTLY:

  1. Material covered in ICM and Pathology, often in interwoven lectures, is FAIR GAME for either course; it is often hard to separate the information. PLEASE tell Dr. Graham or the main Pathology lecturer if there is a discrepancy in the courses BEFORE the next exam!!!
  2. As clinical scenario-based questions are developed, previously presented material will undoubtedly be included. This means that at least some of the questions will be comprehensive - from previous blocks.

Exam Content

The exams will contain USMLE formatted single best answer questions (3 to 10 choices). There will be some practical and clinical scenario questions, some keyed to video images. The practical questions will comprise approximately one-fifth (about 20%, but variable) of the exams, but will vary from section to section. Practical questions include gross and microscopic images projected in the exam, but may include multiquestion clinical cases without images. There will be no gross "wet" practical exams.

The length of the exams (number of questions) will vary and be approximately proportional to the number of hours of Pathology in the particular block. The general formula is 2-3 questions/hour of lecture, but this varies with labs, CPCs, etc.

The NBME final exam will follow NBME standards.

For overall Pathology NBME subject content:

At Exam Time:

  • All of the Pathology exams will take place in the sites to be announced. It is expected that two sites, the student lab and another classroom, will be used for exams.
  • ALL EXAMINEES MUST BE ON TIME and be prepared to take the exam at the assigned time. Please be in the room 5 minutes BEFORE the exam is scheduled to begin. If you are late, you will NOT be given extra time and you will disturb your colleagues.
  • IMPORTANT: You will leave EVERYTHING except for exam tools (pens and pencils) at the back of the room or elsewhere. You can bring NOTHING to the seat with you. Hats are NOT allowed.
  • Students requiring special accommodation should make arrangements with Mr. Detrixhe the week prior to the examination.
  • All exam swill be administered and proctored according to Rules requested by the Students and standardized by the Educational Policy Committees and Medical School Administration.
  • Standard computer answer sheets, allowing up to 10 choices will be used. Random Numbers will be used for posting initial and final Exam Keys and Exam Scores.
    • Random Numbers must be correctly entered on the examination sheets. Please use your assigned Random Number. You would not believe the problems it can cause when you do not.
  • Signature of Examinee Acknowledgement Form concerning Exams will be Required by all students taking the exam.
  • Exams must be turned in at the end of the examination period together with the answer sheet and Signature sheets. The Exams will NOT be returned. After grading is completed, a review session for the exam will be scheduled. The exam may be regraded if problematic or "questionable" exam questions are found.


  • Students who make a block exam grade, or have a running block exam grade, of less than 70% are expected to meet individually with Dr. Graham to discuss their performance. This is especially important after the first exam as a means to detect and avoid future academic difficulty. These students as well as those receiving scores of 70% to 74% will receive letters suggesting a visit with Dr. Graham or appropriate faculty.
  • Any student who feels that he/she needs extra help should seek that help early, not just before the exam. Please talk to the lecturer involved or Dr. Graham.

Miss an exam??

  • When students miss or anticipate missing an examination, normal procedure must be followed. Notify the Student Affairs Office and have proof of illness [Doctor's excuse] or valid reason for missing the exam. You MUST also notify Mr. Tim Detrixhe (743-2228) or Dr. Suzanne Graham (743-2162). There will be a single chance for makeup, usually on the first available day after the exam. The conditions of the makeup exam [time limit, for instance] will be the same as those for the regular exam.

Optional projects; 0 to 4 points ADDED to final grade

  • Additional points are available for added effort demonstrating imagination and the willingness to think beyond the box (defining Robbins at length and First Aid and Checkboard in brief as "The Box") and to participate in the pursuit of medical knowledge and experience with your peers. There are multiple avenues available. Those listed include some of the things students did last year; the list is NOT inclusive, and any pathology related project may qualify. BE INVENTIVE - remember that Pathology is the study of disease, so a lot of topics are covered.
  • A form will be provide for you to enter your idea in an email to Dr. Graham. More details and dates by early September.
  • Suggestions (NOT inclusive):
    • Community Health project participation
    • Research - on going, not in past - demonstrated by a paper in progress (with faculty supervision), presentation of case study or abstract at Student Research Day in the Spring
    • Presentation to the class (15 -30 minutes) of a topic or interest, either based on original research, in depth review (Beyond the Box of Robbins) or other approved project.
    • Preparation of a review session for your fellow students for a block of pathology - one hour at least of in class review, OR a Web based review module.
    • Regular documented small group meetings with Pathology resident or faculty member centered on cases, possibly centered on videoscope use.
  • Some topics that are not acceptable:
    • Simple shadowing of a clinician. Using that experience to write a paper or prepare a presentation might be acceptable
    • Pharmacologic mechanisms or side effects of drugs
  • It will be IMPERATIVE that the project be approved by Dr. Graham. Some ideas proposed last year were either too narrow, too broad, or would not have been feasible because of HIPAA (patient confidentiality) and IRB problems.
  • Groups - 2-3 persons may work in groups, but more will be expected of group projects than those done by one person. Prepare and plan accordingly
    • The 4-0 scale mimics the H-HP-P-LP-F system. Doing the project does not guarantee even a point if poorly done. Only exceptionally imaginative projects will receive a 4.
    • Dr. Graham will grade the projects, with expert advice if necessary from other faculty. The class may elect to participate in evaluation of the persons or groups who elect to present in class.
    • The added points may not change your final grade in Pathology in the Honors/High Pass, etc system. However, a note will be provided to the Student Affairs office for inclusion in your record as a point of reference for your recommendation letters, if you so choose.