Thursday, March 6, 2008

We're Halfway There

Livin' on a prayer.

This past Wednesday marked the official halfway point of this horrid semester. Despite all the stress, anxiety, frustration, and hair-pulling agony – I am actually doing really well. The ever elusive 4.0 is still a reality for me where as last semester, anatomy sorta already had me thinking about damage control. Granted, I still don’t know how I did on the anatomy exams we had 2 weeks ago (but I’m feeling high B low A). My grades aside, the important point I want to get at is TIME MANAGEMENT and KICKING FIRST EXAM ASS.

Pathology for example, this class is a LOT of information. We are quizzed weekly, and I just took the midterm today. The top TEN quizzes count as 40% of your grade in the course. This means you can drop a number of them and end up with a great quiz average. The midterm is worth 20%. I got a really high ‘A’ on it. I calculated how I need to do on the final to get an ‘A’ assuming I keep doing well on the quizzes. I can keep an ‘A’ in pathology with a 65% on the final exam. I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this to make you realize how sweet it is to not have a shitload of pressure on you to perform during FINALS. This means you study your ass off at the beginning of the semester. Pretend like it is finals. If you absolutely smoke the first exam or first few depending on the course – you are just setting yourself up for an easy finish. Now if you have to get 90-95%’s on every final, the odds of you pulling that off are much less likely than if you can get C’s on one or two.

Finals are generally more difficult as why not try to get as much leeway as possible. My test taking skills (and guessing skills) seem to be greatly improved this semester as well. Granted, I feel I have somewhat adapted to studying all the time and am more efficient, but at the same time – I go into every test feeling like I could be more prepared (a trend common to many dental students).

Those of you following this blog might also recall I have started dating one of my classmates.. and I have already blown off studying on more than one occasion (don’t care either). We still have managed to be somewhat responsible to our schoolwork...somewhat. Despite all of this, I am doing better than last semester. The classes are so much harder too, I have a feeling it comes back to a motto I said in some post like a year ago. The more you have on your plate, the more organized you become, the better you do. My best semester GPA wise in undergrad was the heaviest course load by far (and I was interviewing for dental school at the same time).

Onto more interesting things, our first REAL performance exam was last Tuesday. I was kind of nervous leading up to the day, but felt pretty good during the test (which is great). A lot of people really freak out during these types of exams and absolutely butcher their preps just because they are extra twitchy. We were allowed to come in an hour early to set up our typodonts and apply the rubber dam. This is a good thing, because rubber dam placement seems to be hit or miss with me sometimes. After getting the dam checked off, I got my class I occlusal prep done on #19 (looks like the bat signal) before filling an amalgam on a pre-prepared #18. Now I had done 5 practice preps/fillings over the weekend and the last one was by far, the best I have done. Unfortunately, during the exam, I didn’t have my perfect game going and fear of blowing out the isthmus really kept me from smoothing the walls. What you need to understand is that we are working on PLASTIC teeth…these things cut like butter, it is tough to smooth anything without greatly expanding your borders. Now the grade is 50/50 on this exam. 50 on quality of work and 50 on self-appraisal. I feel like the quality of my work will be a low-mid ‘B’ (my amalgams still blow and I don’t feel like getting better at them because they will soon be obsolete). However, my self-evaluation should be an ‘A’ of some sort…so the average will hopefully pull me up. The instructors claim that the grading scale is quite generous assuming you don't get any 'standard not mets.' So who knows.

We haven’t gotten the grades yet…and maybe I completely butchered something that I didn’t notice..but it was ‘ok’ I thought. Regardless, the main joy is that I was pretty relaxed. Seeing as we are going to be going through MANY more of these types of exams in the near future – I am glad the stress doesn’t mess with me too much. And despite not doing as well as I would have liked, I actually enjoyed practicing for this thing – dentistry, it is kinda fun I guess. I felt like the time I spent practicing was much better used than when I study for a biochem test. Like I am actually learning practical skills towards my chosen profession!

Well, this week was fairly rough, we have a perio mid-term tomorrow (but it should be a cake-walk). Next week however, will most likely be more hellish than finals last semester (simply because we have to GO to classes still).

Restorative quiz on some random article I haven’t read.
Occlusion quiz on a bunch of lectures regarding stuff I haven’t studied for.
Pathology quiz on neoplasms that should be easy because it was on the midterm
Neuroanatomy midterm……fuck
Physiology exam III (endocrine)…this one is going to be rough as well
Radiology Midterm…sigh

On the plus note, I actually think neuro is starting to come together with me a bit better. I still have a long way to go if I want to get an ‘A’…but it is definitely not as intimidating as 3 weeks ago.

Speaking of finals…I just glanced at the schedule…and it is nuts. I will of course not spoil the surprise this early…I’m sure there will be an elaborate post in the future.

And I’m off.

Ps. Let’s go white sox. Don’t embarrass me this year.