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The Formative & The Summatives From a Student’s POV. Steve Tran (Year 3) ICSMSU Academic Officer (Years 1, 2 & GE) Content – Updated 16/12/11. Why have this? Exam Dates Results + Resits Type of Questions + Examples SBA – Single Best Answers

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the formative the summatives from a student s pov

The Formative & The SummativesFrom a Student’s POV

Steve Tran (Year 3)

ICSMSU Academic Officer (Years 1, 2 & GE)

content updated 16 12 11
Content – Updated 16/12/11
  • Why have this?
  • Exam Dates
  • Results + Resits
  • Type of Questions + Examples
      • SBA – Single Best Answers
      • EMQ – Extended Matching Questions
      • SAQ – Short Answer Questions
  • Year 1 Formative
  • Graduate Entry Formative
  • The Exams
  • Tips
why have this
Why have this?
  • Students (Year 1 & GE1) have approached me concerned about the format of your exams
  • All the information here is taken from the Intranet ( on the 16th December so may not be the most recent.
  • All the other information is from my own experience and point of view so don’t sue me.
year 1 2012
Year 1 2012
  • Mon 9 Jan, 2-4pm: Formative
      • Results: Fri 3 Feb
  • Tues 20 Mar: PBL in-course assessment deadline
  • Mon 30 Apr, 10am - 12.15pm: MCD Summative
  • Mon 11 Jun, 10am - 11.40am: LSS 1 Summative
  • Tues 12 Jun, 10am - 11.30am: LSS 2 Summative
  • Thurs 14 Jun, 10am - 11.15am: LCRS Summative
  • Fri 15 Jun, 2pm - 3.45pm: FCP Summative
      • Results: TBA (July)
year graduate entry 1 2012
Year Graduate Entry 1 2012
  • Mon 31 Jan, 2pm - 5pm: Formative
  • Tues 17 Apr, 2pm – 4.30pm: CMS Summative
  • Fri 27 Apr, 9.15 – 10.15am: Epidemiology + S&H
  • Thurs 21 Jun, 10am - 11.40am: Anatomy Summative
  • Wed 27 Jun, 10am – 12pm: RS Summative
  • Fri 29 Jun, 2.30pm – 4.30pm: SS Summative
      • Results: TBA (July)
  • On the results day, you will be emailed by the FEO.
  • They ask you to log into the Imperial e-service:
  • Look for them under the ‘Academic Record’ tab.
  • Prior to the release of results, the FEO release the pass-marks on the intranet under the exam links.
  • The Top 3 of each year AND the top of each exam paper will get a prize:
  • If you do end up not getting the pass marks, you will be automatically entered into the Summer Resits.
  • The dates will be released closer to the time of the summative exams, but they normally take place over the 2nd week of August.
  • The percentage of those who resit is relatively normal compared to other medical schools.
type of questions
Type of Questions
  • SBA – Single Best Answer
  • EMQ – Extended Matching Questions
  • SAQ – Short Answer Questions
  • EMQs and SBAs are the type of questions you will come across your years at medical school.
  • However multiple choice doesn’t distinguish whether people actually understand concepts presented in Y1&2, so that is why we also do SAQs - they are the questions you ‘have to think about’.
sba single best answer
SBA – Single Best Answer
  • Multiple choice questions that ask you for the ‘BEST’ answer out of 5.
        • If they’re mean, they can put two answers that are very similar to each other.
  • Best Method: Process of Elimination
    • Go through each option and figure out if you think it’s true or false or a ?.
    • You’ll most likely end up with having to choose between 2.
sba example
SBA example
  • Where in the cell does the TCA cycle occur?*
  • The Cytoplasm
  • The Mitochondrial Matrix
  • In the Inter-mitochondrial-membrane space
  • On Rough ER
  • In the Nucleus
  • * Taken from the Metabolism Self Test on
emq extended matching questions
EMQ – Extended Matching Questions
  • Similar to Mix-And-Match Questions.
  • Normally involves definitions.
  • 5 Questions per list of 10 options.
  • Options can be used:


  • A lot of options you can eliminate just because

1. they are from a different topic or

2. you know that it definitely isn’t the answer.

emq example
EMQ Example
  • Questions
  • Associated with CD4+ or CD8+
  • Contains Multi-Segmented Nucleus
  • Widely Spread throughout the skin
  • Secretes Insulin
  • * Taken from the Immunology Self Test on
  • T Cell
  • B Cell
  • Natural Killer Cell
  • Neutrophil
  • Macrophage
  • Langerhans Cell
  • Follicular Cell
  • Basophil
  • Eosinophil
  • Pancreatic Beta Cell
saq short answer questions
SAQ – Short Answer Questions
  • These rely on you understand the topic than just remembering facts for SBA and EMQs
  • More writing!
  • Can be compared to A level Biology
  • You get an initial 1 or 2 marker question then more expanded questions which require ‘longer’ answers i.e. a paragraph of writing
  • Can be used test across topics – Obvious links!

e.g. Immunology and Microbiology

saq example
SAQ - Example
  • Name the process that makes glucose from other substrates (1 mark)
  • List 3 different substrates that could be used (3 marks)
  • Explain how Adrenaline and Insulin influence the blood sugar levels (6 marks)
  • What other major hormone is involved in the homeostasis of blood sugar levels? (1 mark)
  • Answers are not the best, because I made this from the top of head.
year 1 formative
Year 1 Formative
  • Monday 9 January 2012, 2pm – 4pm
  • For MCD: (Advised 80 minutes)
    • 32 SBA – Advised 40 minutes
    • 2 EMQ – Advised 10 minutes
    • 2 SAQ – Advised 30 minutes
  • For FCP: 40 minutes of SAQ & SBAs.
  • Topics:
  • MCD – Everything including practicals & tutorials
  • FCP – Clinical Communications, Society & Health, parts of First Clinical Attachment.
ge1 formative
GE1 Formative
  • Tuesday 31 January 2012, 2pm – 5pm
  • Exam arrangements will be sent to you by 17th Jan.
  • Society & Health: 6 items
  • Regulatory Systems: 21 items
  • Support Systems: 31 items
  • Cellular and Molecular Sciences: 38 items
  • Anatomy: 44 items
  • Hopefully a SAQ consists of 10 items, EMQ (5 questions with one list of options) = 5 items and a SBA = 1 item
  • Only Support System will have a SAQ.
the exams
The Exams
  • SBA & EMQs are marked by machine by something similar to the math’s challenge or the BMAT.
  • Put your NAME & Candidate Number down.
  • Make sure you’re using the right side for SBA and EMQs (EMQ are the longer ones)
tips 1
Tips 1
  • Other than a good night sleep etc…
    • Make sure you have spare pens and HB pencils!
    • Bring some water or some snack that isn’t noisy to eat!
    • Wear comfortable clothes
    • Comfort Breaks BEFORE the exam – No need to waste time during the exam unless you’re bursting.
    • Stay calm, you know what you’re doing.
tips 2
Tips 2
  • Make sure you know how much time you want to spend on SAQ, EMQ or SBA.
  • Choose which ever you want to do first but I would advise GLANCE over what topics the SAQs are on, so that whilst doing the EMQ/SBAs your brain is subconsciously working out stuff for the SAQs, plus you can also figure out if you need to allocate more time for them.
  • Guess if you don’t know it!
tips 3
Tips 3
  • READ THE QUESTION, then read it again.
        • I’ve made this mistake so many times.
  • For SBA/EMQ – Mark on the question sheet your answer, then transfer the answers to the answer sheet.
  • If you skip a question, give yourself a note to remind you of it later and make sure to skip it on the answer sheet too!
        • I put a massive highlighted circlearound the SBAs I skipped.
        • I know someone who lost 50% of their SBA answers because they realised 5 minutes before the end they only had 39 answers to 40 questions. In addition, they didn’t mark on the question paper what they put the answer as.
need more information
Need more information?
  • If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me on:
  • Anything with regards to mitigating circumstances, please contact Neeraj, our welfare officer at