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1st exams are done!

Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve taken 5 exams and 2 quizzes. We’ve taken one exam in each class, and our second physiology midterm is in 5 days. The exams never stop coming!


This was our first exam, and it wasn’t too bad. The professor teaches from powerpoint slides, so you just have to learn and memorize everything on the slides. It wasn’t as complicated as my physiology in undergrad, at least for the beginning. We learned about cells, muscles, and cell transport systems, so most of it was already review for me. I make flashcards on Quizlet and study those, and also rewrite the slides on printer paper for the more conceptual things that are easier to understand when they’re not spread through 10 different slides.

This class is also curved, so we all got bumped up 8 points. The class grade is 20% for 5 exams, and the lowest exam will count 50% less. He’s also really nice in that we just had our anatomy practical today, so he was willing to push back the physiology exam so we had 1 extra day to study.

Human Development & Embryology

This test was frustrating for me. It was half multiple choice and half true/false. The questions were pretty straightforward, although it seemed like I could reason my way through all the answer choices for a few questions. I got an A, even though I walked out of the exam not knowing if I had passed it or not. Classmates were talking about the answers they put, so I thought I missed more questions than I actually did, but they were wrong for those questions that were were all unsure about.

This class is definitely a nice breather from anatomy, since there isn’t too much work we need to put in outside of class. We volunteer to read from the powerpoint slides during class, and the professor asks for volunteers to come up to the front of the room a lot. She definitely tries to make the class fun, and everyone is able to laugh and joke around a lot.

Intro to Health Care Systems and Patient Care

This was the second most stressful exam that we took. The professor really stresses that we should care about everything in class. It took me a while to learn how to be organized, because the class information is split up between articles, powerpoint slides, textbooks, and lecture notes. I ended up typing up all of my notes onto my computer, so I have everything in one place.

The exam was pretty intimidating because most of it was short answer or fill in the blank, which makes it harder to do well. We also had to bring colored pencils to the exam, so it was pretty fun to draw on the test.

Anatomy – Lecture and Lab Exams

We just took two exams today. We were given 3 hours to take the lecture exam in the morning, and most people took around 2-2.5 hours to finish. It was 80 multiple choice, 5 type K questions (you have to mark all the correct answer choices), and short answer questions. We have about 100 pages of just lecture notes, not even including the parts of the textbook that were assigned. The textbook is mostly supplementary, but there are small sections that talk about clinical applications, so injuries related to vertebrae or important syndromes that are related to what we learned in class. The exam was very fair though and similar to the weekly quizzes that we’ve been taking.

We had a break for lunch, and then the class was split into two groups for the lab practical. I was in the first group, which was nice to get it out of the way early. I had 1.5 hours for a break, so I tried to study a little but it didn’t help at all. I just didn’t know what else to do during my free time. Lots of classmates walked around campus, some went on a run, some went home if they lived nearby.

The lab practical was actually pretty fun. The tables are lined in a horseshoe shape, so two students are at each table. We had 1 minute per question, and there were 3 questions at each side of the table. So, we had 3 minutes to answer all the questions at each station, and then moved to the next set of questions. Some questions were difficult, especially because you spend so much time with your own table and not at others. It was very straightforward though, and I felt like I did well.

What I’ve Learned So Far

I let myself get behind in classes. The first few weeks were just for anatomy quizzes, so everybody had been focusing on anatomy and learning how to best study, and spending time to rewatch the recorded lectures. However, once the exams started, we had to cram for that exam, and then try to keep up with anatomy quizzes, and then cram for the next exam. It was difficult because I wasn’t sure how to study for each class, and I lost a lot of time in learning how to be more efficient when taking notes and when learning.

My anatomy professor often tells us “learn it now, so you don’t have to learn it this weekend”. Lectures are long, and it’s so easy to stop paying attention and just watch the lecture later for anything that you missed. It’s hard to give 100% of your attention in all your classes, and so easy to focus on other classes and ignore others.

I studied as much as I could during the week, but it’s hard to study for several hours at night when you’ve been in class all morning and early afternoon. I did enough studying to stay ahead and get A’s in the first three exams, but I always felt behind in classes because I wasn’t reviewing often enough or keeping up with older material.

My new plan is to keep up with all my classes, even if there are exams in other classes coming up. I also had not exercised in a few weeks because I spent my weekdays studying as much as I could, and it’s hard to feel like you have time to study when you feel behind in all your classes.

I’m doing well so far though, and this semester is moving more quickly than I thought it would. I love learning about physical therapy, and I’m excited to go to class every day and interact with my classmates. We’re going to a beer festival tomorrow, and a lot of 2nd years and 3rd years are going too, so it’ll be awesome to spend time with them and not talk about school for a day. It’s difficult to not be completely consumed by school, so I’m going to work harder on keeping up with my exercise and staying in touch with my family.


How did you prepare for your first PT school exams? Share all your tips & tricks below!

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