Self-tests Improve Medical Examination Scores Significantly, Faculty Find

Listen up, medical students. If you’d like to improve your exam scores, you may want to start using self-tests as study aids.

The importance of self-tests in pre-clerkship medical education was recently revealed by a team of faculty members at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso). Led by Dolgor Baatar, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of immunology, the study assessed how repeated, self-directed test-taking affected first-year medical students.

As part of their research, Dr. Baatar and his team offered a class of students multiple choice self-tests prior to five formative exams in basic medical science. On average, 60 percent of the class used the self-tests as study aids before each exam. In four out of five exams, students who used the self-tests as study aids performed better than those who did not. Importantly, students who used four or more self-tests also performed better on a summative exam. The results were published last month in the journal Medical Science Educator.

These findings suggest that self-tests should be routinely offered as study aids in medical schools and that students should take advantage of them — if they’d like to see their exam grades improve.

Other members of the research team were Naomi Lacy, Ph.D., associate professor of medical education, Zuber Mulla, Ph.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Janet Piskurich, Ph.D., professor of immunology and microbiology.