Is telling another person what’s on the test cheating?

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Get ready, you’re about to be lied to.

(CNN) — Doctors studying to become dermatologists have, for years, shared exam questions by memorizing and writing them down after the test to become board certified, CNN has confirmed.

Wow. WOW. CNN has confirmed it.

The unstory is that since not all residents take their board exams at the same time, after residents take their specialty exams, they meet and talk about what questions they saw, and these questions are then disseminated among other residents.

First, this is stupid. This has been the case since high school. “What was on the test?” 4th period Calc says to 3rd period. “Dude, he airlifted the questions right out of the book questions, but it was all the evens. It was all cylinders. And there was a question about water which was exactly like…”

The resident, now a practicing dermatologist, wrote, “Each year, minutes after the certifying exam is complete, there is an almost ceremonial meeting of examinees at a local hotel or restaurant there in Chicago. A feverish and collective effort is made by examinees from many programs to reproduce on paper as many questions as they can — verbatim — that they had just encountered. This is then integrated into an updated “airplane notes,” which then has questions from the year before, and the year before that, etc., in an organized fashion. These are even professionally bound at Kinko’s at times.”

Second, that resident undoubtedly failed his boards.

What they’re not telling you is that this is another battle in the ongoing war between The Boards– include The College Board– and all the companies out to game their stupid, idiotic, pointless, meaningless extortions of thousands of dollars from each student.

When I was a resident I worked for The Princeton Review teaching the medical school boards (USMLE I and II). Not only did TPR’s students come back for a pizza party to tell us the questions they remembered, but TPR materials emphasized the fact that they mirrored the real questions. In the classes, students would be encouraged to recollect questions from the past.

So, too, Kaplan, which is so successful at this game that not only does The Washington Post company own them, but Kaplan makes more money for the Post than the Post makes itself.

You think students are just hooking up at a hotel for a debrief– on their own? To help their fellow students?  Those are the test prep companies. That’s what this article is about.

The American Board of Family Medicine has sent investigators into test review company classes to ensure they aren’t teaching from old test questions.

“When we’ve investigated these groups and (gone) through these classes, we’ve never found old exams,” said board spokesman Robert Cattoi.

Liar. It is impossible not to have found them. ALL of the practice  questions are derivatives of “I heard that they asked…”


[Director of the Board of Radiology] Becker said that despite the use of the recalls, the public is protected because of the overall training and an intensive oral exam that residents must undergo to become certified.

Then why do all this?

This is about nothing other than money. CMEs, Board exams– I don’t want to call them scams, but they are at minimum protection money.

This is why despite internal investigations, the Board can’t catch the “cheaters.”  They don’t want to.  They don’t care if everyone passes, as long as everyone pays to take the exam.

The purpose of this story, and the reason it is on CNN, is to say: Board exams are important.  Let’s keep them around, even if they cost $2000 a pop. 

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2 Responses to Is telling another person what’s on the test cheating?

  1. shaydlip says:

    That’s odd. At the university where I teach medical students anatomy (a top 10 program), we as instructors know that the students have a backlog of all the exams for the past 10-15 years. What does it matter, as long as the students learn the information?

  2. Guy Fox says:

    If you want to make it fair, give those who take the test first a discount.