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Med Teach. 2007 Nov;29(9):990-2.

A study of student performance on self-scheduled, computer-based examinations in a medical histology course: is later better?

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  • 1University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72223, USA.



Student self-scheduling of computer-based examinations during a defined window of opportunity is a protocol used by some medical school courses and licensing bodies. Students scheduling late have more time to prepare, which may provide them with an unfair advantage.


ANOVA was used to compare the average scores of three different cohorts of test-takers (early, middle and late) on 13 Microscopic Anatomy exams taken over a 3-year period (2003-2005) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


On 11 of the 13 exams, the average score of students who took the exam last was lower than that of students who took the exam first. These differences were significant for eight (73%) exams. There were two exams on which the average score of students who took the exam last was higher than that of students who took the exam first, but these differences were not significant.


Scheduling exams late in the window of opportunity does not appear to provide a performance advantage and may even be detrimental since these students are responsible for new content information in the course and in other concurrently running courses while they are preparing for a 'late' exam.

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