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MSc Epidemiology Exams what, why, when, how

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Paper 1 Covers extended epidemiology, STEPH and clinical trials Purpose of today’s talk: –Explain format of exam paper in general –Use of exam questions of Paper 1 as a tool for revision of term 1 in the winter break –What to look out for when doing this.

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Term 1 Core 'Super Module' 60 credits (all core modules combined) Assessed through summer Exams To be awarded credits: Marks required Paper 1, ≥ 1 and Paper 2, ≥ 1 and Papers combined, ≥ 2 Terms 2 and 3 Study modules 75 credits (five modules of 15 credits) In-course assessment for each module To be awarded credits: A minimum mark of 2 is required for each module; one module with a mark of 1-1.99 can be compensated provided the combined GPA for the five modules is ≥ 2 Project Report Research project 45 credits (a single piece of work) Assessed through a written project report To be awarded credits: A minimum mark of 2 is required MSc GPA: 30% exam + 40% modules + 30% project

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Two 3-hour written exams: Paper 1: examines the content of Term 1 teaching Paper 2: tests your ability to integrate the knowledge you have acquired during the whole of the course “Revision” period: 18.05-02.06 (2 weeks) Need to revise over winter and Easter break! You need to pass the Exams to get your MSc. Exams (3 rd June, 5 th June 2013)

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You must answer all FOUR questions, all carry equal marks (25 marks per question, out of a total of 100 for the whole paper). -Extended epidemiology: 2 questions -STEPH: 1 question -Clinical trials: 1 question Note: no optional questions (unlike past papers) The percentage distribution of marks WITHIN the question is given in brackets in bold italic. It is strongly recommended that you show your workings. Paper 1

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Why are we doing this now? The purpose is NOT a mock exam. The purpose is –to train you in the ‘exam language’ – helps understand questions in module assignments in terms 2 and 3. –To give you a tool for focused revision. If you can’t answer the question, it will be worth reviewing materials (Manuals, Hennekens, Kirkwood and Sterne, DL materials). –Take all the time you need to find answers. –To help tutor assess your understanding of term 1 at the start of term 2 (after your revision!).

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First steps Read all questions in the paper first The go back and work out equal amounts of time to dedicate for each of the four questions Stick to the time slots!

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Try and answer every part of every question Look at the weight of the mark (this gives you an indication of how much effort/time to spend on a part of a question ) Second steps

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Third steps Answer the actual question: –you only get marks for what was asked –the right answer buried in a lot of irrelevant material is not a good strategy –DO show your workings though (more later) Look at the wording

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Level of explanation / what we expect in your answer: Try to imagine you have an audience of intelligent novices to statistics and epidemiology. They need coaching to realise what you are doing and why, so that they could do the same if presented with a similar question.

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Exam vocabulary "List....“, "State..."- - give the main features in clear english "Calculate...."- simply work out (show the steps in your calculation) "Define...." - write down what a term/measure means or represents in words "Describe....“- give main characteristics or features of something, or outline the main events

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"Use...."- apply either your own knowledge or some information that you've been given to a problem "Estimate...." - this mostly means calculate a statistic (statistics are sometimes called estimates because there is a degree of uncertainty about what they tell us) or (less commonly) make an informed guess about something "Evaluate...."- assess the worth, importance or usefulness of something. Probably is a case for and against

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"Interpret..." –give the meaning and relevance of data or other material presented "Explain..." – make clear why something happens, or why something is the way it is "Justify..."- give evidence which supports and argument or idea, show why decisions or conclusions were made, consider objections others might make (S Cottrell The study skills handbook 2008)

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Language errors As long as any language errors do not affect the examiners’ ability to understand the meaning of what you write on your exam papers, you will not be marked down for using ‘incorrect’ English

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Ways to be concise Bullet points are often acceptable Diagrams can also be useful if relevant. Markers often appreciate sub-headings - it can help you clarify your ideas too so you are sure you have covered the relevant information. Model answers: some marks for a concept (e.g. selection bias) BUT much more credit (up to the marks allocated) for an example or explanation.

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Statistical calculations: principles Show working whenever possible. If you get the answer wrong and there is no indication of your working out, all marks will probably be lost. If you show your working out (and the formula / method was correct but it was purely an error in calculation), some marks WILL be awarded.

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Significance testing: Write out the null hypothesis before you do the test. Check what table and formulae will be available in the exam and have a look at these beforehand to familiarise yourself. Stop and think what is the simplest method to test the hypothesis e.g. a single chi-square test rather than three z tests to test for differences in three proportions.

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Statistical calculations – showing workings: Take great care when copying down equations, and substituting values into the equations. A missing bracket, a square root sign which covers too much of the equation, a minus sign instead of a plus sign for example will all lead to the wrong result and the wrong conclusion.

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Statistical calculations: Rounding Keep as many decimal places during your calculations as you can cope with, then just round your final result General rule is that excess digits are discarded if the first of them is less than five, otherwise the last retained digit is increased by one.

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Further resources http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/edu/exam_time.pdf “Exam Time and Planning For A Positive State of Mind” Exam Term Preparation Things to consider and suggested approaches-Video Presentation(10 minutes) Managing Exam Anxiety and Stress Practical advice and techniques-Webpage

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