Posts Tagged ‘School’

Testing Tips

November 6, 2008

Credit goes to Tamim Ansary of MSN.  I decided to paste the entire tips with my commentary in italics.

Okay, so you want to improve your scores. Don’t blush; I know how you feel. You’ve come to the right place: I’ve searched the Internet and talked to teachers and test makers for the very best in test-taking tips and techniques.

I’m going to skip the vanilla tips. Study hard. Get plenty of sleep before the test. Try to relax. Yeah, all that stuff’s important, but you can probably figure it out yourself. Here are a few tips that may not have occurred to you.

  • Study in an environment that is the same or similar to the one in which you will take the test.  Also try to take a practice test in the same room when it is completely quiet.  Mark the time you start and don’t take more than the time you would have on the real test.
  • Wear an unusual scent when you’re studying, and then wear the same scent at the test, because aromas tend to bring back memories. (It doesn’t have to be perfume. Peppermint, chocolate, and ammonia have all been shown to work. But don’t wear too much; you don’t want to bother the other test takers.)  I haven’t tried this yet.  However, I have tried mints/gum because it supposedly stimulates the brain.  My experience: little to no improvement when it comes to mints/gum.
  • Don’t actually cheat, of course, but make up the cheat sheet you would use. It’s a great way to bring the subject into focus.  This definitely works for me.
  • Study in small blocks of time, spaced apart. Three two-hour sessions are better than one six-hour session. (But no, 360 one-minute sessions are not best of all.) I prefer one-hour sessions to two-hour sessionsSome studies say 30-minute sessions are best.  I guess use trial and error and find the time blocks where you retain the most info.
  • Go into the test with a full stomach and an empty bladder. ‘Nuff said.  Eating a mix of carbs and proteins are best.  Carbs are good for the earlier portion of exams and when they’re used up, proteins break down slower so they’ll provide “late energy”. Worst combo: empty stomach and full bladder.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Set a pace and keep to it. First, skim the whole test, divide the number of items by the number of minutes, and calculate how much time you can spend on each item. Mark when you should be getting to the quarter point, halfway point, and three-quarter point by jotting the time in the margin next to that place. Once you start, keep moving. If you can’t answer a question within your budgeted time, put a question mark next to it and move on.  Good advice
  • Prioritize. Answer the easiest questions first, then the ones that give you the most points, then the hard ones.  The only exception is when you know the harder questions will give you more points.  These cases are really rare, I’ve never encountered them.
  • Make sure to answer the power items. About every tenth question on many standardized tests is a so-called power item. If you get that one right, you get credit for the whole block of questions leading up to it. Whereas the nine questions that precede the power question test individual skills, the power item asks you to use a combination of skills. On a map test, for example, a question like “Is Perth (north, south, east, west) of Forth?” is NOT a power item. A question like “The shortest route from Perth to Forth crosses (Smith River, Boyd Mountain, Hologram Hill, None of the above)” probably is. Never leave a power item unanswered, even if you have to guess. This tip is good for standardized tests, but not very applicable for regular college exams.  College tests rarely have such “power items”.
  • Guess. On most standardized tests, only correct answers count. If blank answers count the same as wrong answers, you have nothing to lose by guessing. Suppose every test item has four answer choices. According to the laws of probability, if you guess you will correctly answer 25 percent of the questions on which you are totally clueless. However, there is dumb guessing and smart guessing–and that brings us to the subject of power guessing.

Power guessing for the utterly clueless
Follow these tips to maximize your guessing success on items you know absolutely nothing about.

  • On a true/false test, all other things being equal, pick “true.” (The correct answer on true/false tests is generally “true” more often than it is “false.”)
  • On a true/false item, a long sentence with many parts is more likely to be false.
  • Statements with words such as “never,” “always,” or “every” are more likely to be false. (So few things are “always” or “never” anything.)
  • Statements with words such as “sometimes,” “often,” or “usually” are more likely to be true.
  • On a multiple-choice test, if “all of the above” is a choice and you don’t know the answer, pick “all of the above.”
  • On a math test, if your choices are numbers, throw out the highest and lowest ones. Pick a midrange number.
  • If one answer choice contains quite a bit more information, tilt toward it.
  • On pure guesses, all other things being equal, pick the same option every time. For example, you might always pick C. Why? Because test designers try to randomize their answers and therefore skip around. If you skip around too–with your luck?–you and the correct answer may miss each other every time. If you hold still, however, you get probability working for you.

I also want to add that if you initially chose an answer, don’t second guess and change it later unless you’re 100% sure the new answer is the right one.  Your first choice is usually right.  If the temperature of the test room is unpredictable, you might want to dress in a couple layers.  I like a t-shirt plus hoodie.  That way, you won’t be distracted by sweating or shivering.

Meet a Student Blogger

August 18, 2008

Check out this interview from Student Bloggers

This week’s Meet a Student Blogger brings us Pharmacy Kid of… The Pharmacy Kid.

Major – Pharmacy

Planned graduation year – 2011

Student Bloggers: Why did you start blogging?

Pharmacy Kid: I started reading pharmacy blogs about a year ago. It seemed there were not many pharmacy student blogs and that none of the current pharmacists blogged about their days in school. I decided instead of waiting, I should start my own blog.

SB: I noticed that you blogroll several other pharmacy/med blogs. Have you noticed a sort of community of pharm bloggers linking/commenting?

Pharmacy Kid: Definitely, most of the pharmacy blogs link to each other. The reason I read medical blogs is because pharmacy and medicine are closely related. I thought of becoming a physician but chose pharmacy because of the better lifestyle.

SB: Does your blogger anonymity extend to people you know in real life as well?

Pharmacy Kid: Nope. I learned that if you want to keep a secret, it’s best not to tell anyone. So I have told my blog to absolutely no one.

SB: Have you found any disadvantages to blogging anonymously?

Pharmacy Kid: Not really. You can be more open in your posts if you’re anonymous.

SB: Has blogging ever come up in your classes? If so, how?

Pharmacy Kid: Nope.

SB: Do you foresee continuing after graduation? If so, do you think you’d change format or your approach to blogging?

I really would like to. However, it’s not going to be easy as I will have to work full time. I probably would not change my blogging format. The content would just shift more to work and less as a student.

SB: Finally, what are the top three blogs you regularly read?

Pharmacy Kid: Pharmacy Mike, My Money Blog, Waiter Rant

SB: Final thoughts?

Pharmacy Kid: Thanks for the interview.

I Wanted to Quit Pharmacy School

July 13, 2008

In my first year of pharmacy school, I underwent a period (about 3 weeks) where I insanely wanted to quit pharmacy school. It started about a month into my Spring semester. I looked at the current courses I was taking and saw the amount of tests I was taking for the semester. All the courses were pure science courses and I had 1-3 tests EACH WEEK. “F***!”, I said to myself. I didn’t want to put up with this for the next 3 years. So I sat down and calculated the total amount of loans if I dropped out this semester vs next year. Then I calculated the number of credits I would need to take if I wanted to complete a bachelors for undergrad.

I came up with this conclusion:

1. Drop out now instead of later. You’ll only have one semester of loans.

2. I can still get a bachelors on time with the same-year undergrads. I’ll just have to take summer classes.

This was going to be a HUGE decision. I slept on it, ate on it, took a dump on it, sat in class on it, daydreamed on it. I decided to e-mail a professor I trusted and asked to meet her. When we met, we talked about a bunch of stuff. It ranged from skipping my morning classes, residencies, my undergrad experience, extracurriculars, etc. When the meeting ended and I stepped out of her office, I felt an amorphous mix of relief and confusion.

So I decided to ask P2’s about wanting to quit pharmacy school. They shared similar stories about thinking of quitting pharmacy school to pursue something else. They also struggled with the many tests and still struggle to some point with the current course load. In the end, I decided this was a phase many P1’s go to. So I decided to bite the bullet and finish the semester. By the end of the semester, I totally was used to the workload. My first year GPA was pretty good. Not excellent, but good.

Part of being content with pharmacy school was the change in my mindset. I realized I was not alone and that most if not all my fellow colleagues were going through the same thing. We were all in this together. Also, I went to the gym more often. Weightlifting and playing basketball made me forget about everything else. In addition, hot girls at the gym helped.

What I do in lab with extra time.

July 9, 2008

Snort 1 gram as needed around the clock for high

I make labels for CII drugs. Cocaine is my fav.

What should I study for pharmacy school?

June 26, 2008

I’ve had several people ask me this. They are either applying for pharmacy school or have already been accepted to pharmacy school. They are crazy and want to take a non-prerequisite course to help them prepare for pharmacy school. I usually tell them this . . . “Take Spanish.”

Yep. Spanish. If you want to get a big edge over other pharmacists upon graduation, take a useful foreign language. On my list, Spanish is número uno because it is the second most common language in the United States (following English, duh). Many areas of the country have non-English Spanish speakers. By knowing the language, you can communicate with these 28 million people on how to properly take their medicine. You can really make a difference in their health care this way. My professor told me about Spanish patient who took 12 instead of 2 tablets each time. The Spanish word for twelve (doce) sounds a lot like two (dos), especially if you pronounce it wrong.

Other languages I recommend are Chinese and Japanese. I would put Chinese as #2 because of the many pockets of Chinese communities in the US. However, they are not numerous as Spanish speakers. Japanese is a #3 for me because it is a nice skill – just not for pharmacy in the US. Many Japanese businesspeople speak only their native language so you’ll have an advantage if you deal with them. But it is really rare to find a non-English speaking Japanese in the States. Who knows? Maybe you want to become a sales rep in Japan? However, be warned as it is an extremely difficult language.

So yea, do something that will help you not only with pharmacy, but with your life in general. Take a foreign language.

Does C=PharmD?

June 10, 2008

Ah yes, the ever present question. Does your GPA in pharmacy school matter or can you just cruise with straight C’s? To the best of my knowledge, the answer is, “It depends”. Most schools are cool with just a 2.0 overall GPA. However, some require a higher minimum GPA. According to UTPharm from SDN, “We have to get a 3.0 or above to stay in the PharmD program… however, if you fall below, you have 2 semesters to bring your pharmacy GPA back up above it. If not, you’re gone.” Can anyone verify this? I tried finding written proof of this online and the best I got was from this site.

Faculty Senate Approves New Academic Performance Standards
At the January 2004 University of Toledo (UT) Faculty Senate meeting, the senators approved a new set of academic performance standards for students entering the UT College of Pharmacy beginning Fall 2004. Under the previous policy, a GPA of 2.7 or better was required for admission to the professional division. The revised policy mandates that students in the professional division of the PharmD program maintain a 3.0 GPA and earn a “C” or better in core-curriculum courses.

So does it matter if you are barely above the minimum GPA? Yes, if you want to do a residency, or fellowship, or combined degree. These are getting more competitive every year and although grades aren’t everything, it is a main factor considered. Another reason you may strive for good grades is academic scholarships. I know for a fact that my school has scholarships for academic merit. If you get good grades, this may place a dent in your loans.

Personally, I strive for a solid GPA so I can keep my options open. Why would I purposely want to slack off and close possible doors? Right now, I am leaning toward a residency. I could easily change my mind and do retail/community. However, by keeping my grades up, I will have several different paths to choose upon graduation.