I chose to read this article because it is directly related to our class as first year students. As P1s, we are thrown into a new type of schooling with difficult exams, usually having more than one professor per exam. Trial and error is used throughout the year to choose what study habits work best for each course. This study examines the students’ perceptions on a composite exam before they take it and after they take it.
Each composite exam included 3 to 4 questions per hour of lecture (50 minutes). The exam included all subjects that the students were currently taking. There were around 7 CEs throughout the semester. The students were told ahead of time how many questions would be on the exam for each subject as well as the order of the subjects.
Before the exam, students anticipated that they would study 2 to 4 hours a day, but 31% only studied 1 to 2 hours, 25% studied 3 to 4 hours and 21% studied more than 4 hours. The type of studyng that the students anticipated to do, cramming, priority studying, studying each day or other, changed from pretest to post test. In fact, the students’ perceptions of the exam, the ways that they studied, and their personal predicted outcomes all changed from pretest to post test. Overall, the students favored the format of the CE. The goal was to reduce the amount of cramming before the exam, so that students would actually retain the information.
The findings in this study show mixed opinions, such as some studies finding that studying in a steady fashion each day will lead to better test results, while some suggest that those who cram can actually do better. Do you think that we would receive higher semester grades if we would be tested more often? I think that it will be interesting to answer that question because of the way we are learning Anatomy and Physiology 2 right now, since we are doing small assignments along the way instead of an exam. However, the composite exams used in this study involved all subjects, which I am not sure would work for our pharmacy class.
McDonough S, et al, Student Pharmacists’ Perceptions of a Composite Examination in Their First Professional Year. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2016; 80(1):4