Second to Last Anatomy Midterm: Check!!

March 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

This morning we had the first of the two anatomy midterms we will have this semester. As I’ve mentioned before, anatomy has been a bit of a trouble child this semester. It is only 3 credits (so we only have 1 practical and 1 lecture a week) and yet it demands so much. At this point, we have covered everything and this should all be review…but it’s not that easy. I don’t even know how to describe just how much we need to know.

We’ve been covering anatomy superficially these past weeks and after Thursday’s physiology tests, we were ready to go hardcore anatomy. Between Friday afternoon and early Monday morning, we studied for a total of 37 hours. For this exam, Skjalg, Jannie and I decided to go through the material together. It made for a fun weekend, albeit slightly stressful. We presented topics on the giant white board, made up funny ways to remember things and peppered each other with spontaneous quizzes. In my post-midterm bliss (aka pure exhaustion) it’s hard for me to recall the horrible anxiety that slowly took root over the weekend. For that, I’m thankful.

2014-03-17 18.36.10

Anatomy midterms are done orally and in front of the other members of our group. We have a small room (enough for maybe 20 people comfortably) with three long metal cadaver tables in the center and large metal cases for the specimens along the walls. There is usually 1 examiner in the beginning and then others will pop in during. They usually start at the bottom of the class list, which means I am the first to be called up. Sometimes, the examiners will examine several students at a time, but it really varies. Those that are being examined are assigned a spot/region at one of the specimens or asked to make a drawing on the chalkboard. Some examiners begin asking questions right away, whereas other give you a region to focus on and then give you time to collect your thoughts before they start.

This morning, we piled into the corridor outside the dissection wing as we have many, many times before. I spotted a certain professor outside our room and my stomach dropped a little when I realized he was probably going to be our examiner. Little stories I’d heard about his exams began to creep forward into my consciousness. I halfway accepted my fate and pushed the thoughts away as I slid on my lab coat. He came in and told me to prepare the specimens. As I was laying out the last one, my name was called. No time to let the nerves build up.

My first task: draw a frontal section of the larynx. This was something I had not practiced drawing this weekend. I looked it over for a moment in a textbook, but didn’t expect that we would get asked it on our exam. Luckily, I was able to piece it together. I was left there for about 10 minutes while the original examiner and another examined other students. In the time that I was up there, I think one or two failed and one passed with a 3. Intimidating to say the least.


Soon it was time to be examined on my drawing. I made some small errors in the drawing, but they were easily remedied. I was asked:

  • vestibular ligament
  • quadrangular membrane
  • aryepiglottic fold (what is the superior border of the quadrangular ligament?)
  • thyroid cartilage
  • cricoid cartilage
  • triangular ligament (what is the vocal ligament the border of?)
  • transverse and oblique arytenoid muscles (which muscles bring the two arytenoid muscles together?)
  • epithelium types of the different parts of the cavity
  • internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve, direct branch of the vagus nerve (innervation of the mucosa superior to the vocal folds)
  • inferior laryngeal nerve, the terminal branch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, of the vagus nerve

That’s all I can remember of that part for now. I was then asked to look at a specimen similar to this (of course, mine was a real cadaver πŸ˜‰ ) and it was still attached toΒ the torso:



I was asked (at least what I can remember):

  • anterior belly of the digastric and innervation
  • posterior belly of the digastric and innervation
  • inferior alveolar nerve, origin and fibers
  • lingual nerve, origin and fibers
  • innervation of the mucosa of the tongue
  • innervation of the mucosa of the epiglottis at the extreme posterior of the tongue
  • thyroid gland and blood supply, including origin of those arteries
  • middle trunk of the brachial plexus
  • anterior scalene muscle
  • sternocleidomastoid muscle and innervation

Then he took me to a specimen that showed the sagittal section of the skull with the exits of the cranial nerves:



  • hypoglossal nerve
  • Dorello’s canal
  • abducens nerve
  • cavernous sinus – contents and location of the contents in the sinus

Despite a few little bumps, I made it out with a 4.5. I’m still in disbelief. Of all the scenarios I had imagined about the exam, this was not one of them. I’m not complaining either πŸ™‚

After I got my mark, I was allowed to leave. Though Jannie had started after me, she was done about 5 minutes before I was. We met outside and then headed straight for the library. Why? Well, there is no time to rest in second year! Even after the heavy studying we did this weekend we have to keep going. On Thursday we have yet another round of physio tests (we have two every week, one covering lecture topics and one covering our lab that day). Can we rest then? Nope. Monday is our first midterm in biochemistry, covering neurotransmitters and their synthesis, transmission, etc., and fun topics like biotransformation. Then, the cramming begins yet again for next Thursday’s physio tests. It’s never-ending!

It’s almost 23:00 and this tired little med student is off to bed!

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