Changes bring OUM in line with other medical schools

Effective Term 1904, students will have shorter windows of time during which to take pre-clinical exams. The shorter windows – 48 hours for the e-Foundation 100 and 300 Series quizzes and final exams and SBM quizzes and a 24-hour and 48-hour window for system-based modules exams – bring OUM’s exam windows more in line with traditional medical schools and the standards of accreditation and licensing organizations. The Academic Board also introduced more stringent guidelines for requesting exam extensions, including that students must have an Academic Advisor in order to request an extension.

OUM’s generously wide windows for taking exams have led to some academic integrity issues.  Also, even with the allotted time, some students abuse the system and seek extensions to compensate for their lack of preparation. Concerned that this trend may reflect poorly upon the University, the administration studied the exam process extensively.

“We know that flexibility is a key reason that students choose OUM. We need to strike a reasonable balance between that need for flexibility and maintaining the integrity of our exam process,” says Dr. Sarmad Ghazi, Dean for North America.

Many of OUM’s rules and procedures change as a result of student input or at the recommendation of accreditors or regulatory authorities, according to Christopher Dudley, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration and Student Affairs.

“Traditional medical schools give an exam at a certain day and time within a two-hour window.  With a 68-hour window for e-Foundation exams and a 12-day window for the system-based modules, there is great potential for a host of issues to arise that would concern our accreditors as well as medical registration and licensure authorities,” says Dudley. “Unlike most medical schools we are operating with the requirements of several countries and we need to apply them equally to all students.”

Over 60 percent of students participated in a survey about test-taking habits that also asked about specific alternative windows. A study of Proctortrack usage showed that 50-70 percent of students take their exams in the last four hours of any given window.

Based on student survey results, conversations at the ANZ Student Conference, and discussions with faculty members, the new exam windows are as follows:

  • e-Foundation 100 and 300 Quizzes/Exam and SBM Quizzes:(may change slightly because of Daylight Saving Time). One 48-hour window:
    • North America: Saturday, 6:00 pm, to Monday, 6:00 pm ET
    • Australia: Sunday, 8:00 am, to Tuesday, 8:00 am Sydney Time
    • New Zealand: Sunday, 10:00 am, to Tuesday, 10:00 am
    • Samoa: Sunday, 11:00 am, to Tuesday, 11:00 am
  • System-Based Module final exam: One 24-hour window and one 48-hour window (may change slightly because of Daylight Savings Time).:
    • Week Seven (end of review week):
      • North America: Saturday, 6:00 pm, to Sunday, 6:00 pm ET
      • Australia: Sunday, 8:00 am, to Monday, 8:00 am Sydney Time
      • New Zealand: Sunday, 10:00 am, to Monday, 10:00 am
      • Samoa: Sunday, 11:00 am, to Monday, 11:00 am
    • Week Eight (end of exam week):
      • North America: Thursday, 6:00 pm, to Saturday, 6:00 pm ET
      • Australia: Friday, 8:00 am, to Sunday, 8:00 am Sydney Time
      • New Zealand: Friday, 10:00 am, to Sunday, 10:00 am
      • Samoa: Friday, 11:00 am, to Sunday, 11:00 am

The week seven window is shorter, but it provides access for students who want to finish early and take a break on week eight.

New rules for extensions

In a companion resolution, the Academic Board established more structure and control over exam extension requests. According to Dr. Ghazi, there has been an increase in exam extension requests in the past year and in many instances, the requests are made for convenience, to accommodate the student’s schedule, not as a result of an unforeseen emergency.

“An extension request creates a situation where the student falls further behind in his or her studies for the next week, and the situation snowballs from there. An extension can be detrimental to a student’s progress in the long run,” says Dr. Ghazi.

One major change in exam extension requests is that the new parameters require that a student requesting an extension must have an Academic Advisor so the advisor may counsel the student and discuss alternatives.

“We think getting the Academic Advisors involved in the process is very important because they can help students address the underlying issues that may be leading to the request, such as time management and study strategies,” says Dr. Ghazi.

Exam extensions may be granted in the following situations with proper documentation:

Medical emergency related to the student or family member under the student’s care, will require a physician’s note.

Work schedule conflicts will require a letter from the student’s employer.

Personal crisis will require detailed explanation from the student and may trigger an inquiry from an OUM faculty member who assists students with personal crises.

Technical problems sometimes occur at the time of the exam, obviously, but the student will be required to report the problem to IT Support immediately. If no technical problem is detected, the student’s request may be denied.

Except in cases of emergency, students will be required to apply for the extension at least four days prior to the commencement of the exam window or at the time of the regular weekly meeting with the Academic Advisor, whichever comes first.

Unapproved extensions and missed quizzes

The policy states that every student is allowed one exam extension per year. The policy also includes guidelines for missed quizzes due to emergencies; scores will be prorated and based upon the number of quizzes taken. Once the limit for missed quizzes has been reached for each block/module, the student may not request an extension for additional exams in that block/module under any circumstances.

The guidelines for missed quizzes are as follows:

  • e-Foundation 100: no more than one quiz may be missed during the four-week module.
  • e-Foundation 300: no more than two quizzes may be missed per ten-week segment.
  • System-Based Modules: no more than one quiz may be missed during the six-week module.