Tuesday, July 1, 2008

#21: Pass-fail grading


Many schools are moving towards a strict pass-fail grading for part or all of the lecture years of medical school, which means that your actual numerical percentage for each sequence is never seen by anyone, and can therefore never count for any kind of future job placement. This is the only criteria worth taking into account when deciding on which medical school to attend. The medical school curriculum is taught at a breakneck speed, and pass-fail grading is the only thing that will allow you to stop backstabbing your classmates and appreciate the material instead. That kid who can't shut up about the research he's doing, your annoying anatomy lab partner, and you (who stays in bed past 1 p.m. every day) are all on the same page for as long as pass-fail grading lasts. Go ahead, take that breather. For once, you're not falling behind.

While medical school will bombard your brain with a ridiculous amount of information, pass-fail grading will remind you that being able to guess 75% of the correct answers on the test is good enough to be a doctor. Since no one will ever see your scores, you might as well use the least amount of effort possible to get through the lecture years, and save that energy for improving your golf game or something.

The only downside to pass-fail grading is that medical schools are starting to use it as an excuse to not improve their curriculum. Why worry about how hard you're pushing your students, how badly classes and events are scheduled, and how poorly information is distributed, when instead you can just say that they should be able to deal with it because everything is pass-fail? Although the giving up of a competent administration for a pass-fail curriculum is more than a fair trade, it would be nice if such a trade never had to be made in the first place.

9 comments:

threejalapenos said...

Ahhh...nothing like knowing that some doctors aim to be correct 75% of the time. As for the other 25%...well, what's the worst that could happen? I mean, so what if that surgeon forgets a couple of steps, it still mostly right...

Drnjbmd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drnjbmd said...

Your blog looks good and I have linked to it on my blog (Medicine From The Trenches). Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm a med student at UVA and we have strict pass-fail grading in the first 2 years and it's awesome!! It honestly encourages cooperation. Our class has actually set up a website where you can put up your study guides to share with the rest of the class.

Open Source Doc said...

Like your blog name says, medical school is hard. You won't be able to complete medical school if you aren't motivated, hardworking and obsessed with details. The challenge is still there in a pass/fail system, so why have the unnecessary stress?

Neal said...

even if it's pass fail, they can still rank you. if no one sees your grades, your rank and the impression you make will probably play a bigger part in the kinds of residencies open up to you

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campusjntu said...

Your blog looks good and I have linked to it on my blog

Anonymous said...

wow..I wonder how students do on the boards with this

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