Study, Learning, and Testing
What do I do if I am sick on the day of a test or quiz?
Contact your Block Chair by email and phone. Explain your situation and request to postpone your test for a few days. Often this is possible. If approved your Block Chair will likely contact the Assessment & Learning office, but you might want to do this as well, especially do so if you have arranged for accommodations (272-8028).
I study very hard but my test scores do not seem to reflect what I really know. What can I do?
- Meet with an OARS Learning Specialist. If relevant, bring copies of your study materials to your first appointment. This will help us evaluate your approach to learning, and make more valuable suggestions for improvement.
- Talk with your Block Chair. Discuss your understanding of the concepts
- Review your course Learning Objectives. Are you organizing your study to reflect the objectives listed for the course?
- Complete the formative exams. This will give you a better idea of what kinds of questions to expect on the exams, AND will tell you where you still need to focus your study.
- Review each quiz or exam to identify the areas where you don’t yet understand the material. Read through each test question again to see if you read the complete question correctly, and knew exactly what the question was asking during the exam.
What should I do if I am having a ‘life crisis,’ for example, the sudden death of my father today, and I have a final exam tomorrow?
Immediately inform the Block Chair and the Dean of Students (Office of Medical Student Affairs, 272-6383), via phone and email. Let them know you will be absent from classes, lab, and possibly testing and will contact them again as soon as you know when you will return.
The UNM SOM Student Handbook describes options for taking an Incomplete or Leave of Absence (LOA) (see below).
When can I request an Incomplete in a block?
Incompletes are given by faculty only in the event of extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control (UNM SOM Student Handbook). If serious events arise during the block, and these events are compromising your ability to finish the block, discuss the situation immediately with the Block Chair, and secondarily with the Dean of Students, and/or OARS.
What happens if I fail a Block?
If you fail one block, you may retake the final exam at a later pre-determined time. If you pass the second taking of the final, you move along in the curriculum. If you do not pass the second taking of the exam, you will be dismissed and must petition CSPE (the promotions committee) to return and repeat the year.
If you fail a second block, you will be dismissed. You may petition CSPE to return and repeat the year in which you failed the blocks.
If you are repeating a year, it is possible to create an Independent Study Plan and continue to pay tuition and collect financial aid during the interim. This must be discussed with the Dean of Students, and will be coordinated with OARS.
Leave of Absence (LOA)
What is a Leave of Absence?
Sometimes personal life issues predominate so completely that students elect to request a leave from school for up to 12 months. Requests are made in writing to the Committee on Student Promotions and Evaluation (CSPE). Contact Dr. Espey, Dean of Students to discuss prior to submitting a request.
When should I take a ‘Leave of Absence’ (LOA)?
A Leave of Absence may be warranted when grades are slipping, you feel unable to keep up with the coursework and studying, and/or a medical condition is preventing full participation in courses.
If I take a LOA what happens to my financial aid?
Financial Aid is discontinued whenever you leave the curriculum, even with a LOA. Discuss the financial impact of a LOA with the SOM financial aid officer before submitting your request. There are community resources that may be recommended to you.
Financial Aid will continue during a LOA if you are working on an Independent Study Learning Plan. Talk with an OARS Learning Specialist, or the Office of Medical Student Affairs to find out more about this.
USMLE Step 1 and Step 2
What if I know I’m not ready to take Step 1 and the deadline is fast approaching?
Discuss your concerns with someone at the medical school ASAP.
- Call OARS (505-925-4441) and talk with a Learning Specialist.
- Contact Dr. Espey, Dean of Students, (505-272-6383), EEspey@salud.unm.edu.
DO NOT TAKE THE TEST--If you have real evidence that you will not pass the exam if taken by the required date. It is possible to delay taking the exam by requesting a Leave of Absence (LOA)/Independent Study, so that you can take the time needed to study and be fully prepared to do well when you test.
Consequences: Your progress in the curriculum will be delayed (Clerkships will begin later) and graduation may be delayed (depending on how long you delay the exam). However, once you receive your passing score for Step 1 you will be ready to begin Phase II Clerkships.