8.7 Exam Environment Policy – Clinical Phases

Purpose and Scope 

In order to support a professional and productive learning environment, students are expected to follow exam schedules and environment policy.  

Policy Statement 

Students are required to attend scheduled examinations and adhere to rules conducive to a functional testing environment with academic integrity.   


Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines  

Examination schedules are developed by careful consideration of students’ need for preparation time and and cognizance of the University’s administrative holiday schedule and religious observances. As part of the students’ professional development as a physician-in-training, there will be times when they are expected to prioritize their medical school schedule. With the exception of documented illness, personal or family emergencies or religious holiday observation, a student will not be permitted to take the exam at a different time.

Examination Schedules
In the clinical curriculum, Patient Care Phase and Explore and Focus Phase required clerkships (Emergency Medicine and Neurology or Neurosurgery) are required to have a final examination with the most common type of exam being the National Board for Medical Examiners (NBME) subject exam; clinical electives may have an exam or clinical skills assessment. Other performance evaluations include a mini-CEX, which is a review of a component of the physical examination relevant to the clerkship, demonstration of patient-centered communication skills, or other skill or knowledge taught as part of the clerkship.

Examinations for required clerkships occur on the final Friday of the clerkship. Students may be required to travel more than one hour to their exam site. Guidelines for permitted time off for travel to the exam site are outlined on the Clerkship Exam Schedule Guidelines. For questions regarding specific exams, students should contact the UW School of Medicine Testing Service, somtests@uw.edu, or the clerkship administrator for that specific clerkship.

Examination Environment
Students are on their honor in the clerkship testing environment. The NBME subject exams are managed under the same strict guidelines as the USMLE licensure exams. It is unacceptable for students to share exam questions with students in subsequent clerkships; sharing exam questions, is considered a breach of professional conduct.

Arrival for Examination
Exams will have check-in times and start times. Students are expected to arrive by the check-in time to facilitate a timely start to the exam. Students who arrive after the actual exam start time may not be allowed to take the exam.

During the Examination
Items allowed at seat during examinations:

  • Green laminated sheet/dry erase pen (for NBME exams)
  • Blank scratch paper/pen/pencil (for NBME exams)
  • Soft foam earplugs

Items not allowed at seat during examinations:

  • Cell phones
  • iPads/tablets (unless using for testing)
  • iPods/media devices
  • Watches with alarms, computer, or memory capability
  • Calculators
  • Paging devices
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Recording/filming devices
  • Reference materials (book, notes, papers)
  • Backpacks, briefcases, luggage
  • Coats, outer jackets, headwear (religious headwear is allowed)
  • Beverages or food of any type

No questions or requests for clarification of exam items are permitted during the examination. If a student feels there is a problem with a particular question, students should answer to the best of their ability. A student can also notify a proctor about the problem, and they can report it to the appropriate testing authority.

Technical Difficulties
If students encounter technical problems during an exam, they should raise their hand to immediately notify a proctor.

Students may not leave the testing area during the examination, except to go to the restroom.

  • Only one student is allowed to go to the restroom at any given time.
  • For NBME exams, students must be accompanied to/from the restroom by a proctor.
  • Students should not be absent for more than five minutes.

If a student begins an examination and does not complete it for any reason, their exam will still be scored and applied toward their grade.

Irregular Behavior
Students seen to engage in any of the following behaviors will be noted and reported to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and the Associate Dean for Curriculum:

  • Disrupting testing conditions of other students
  • Copying answers from another student
  • Allowing answers to be copied by another student
  • Receiving or providing unauthorized information about the examination content
  • Using notes during the examination
  • Writing on green laminated sheets prior to starting the exam
  • Making notes on anything besides the green laminated sheets/scratch paper
  • Removal of green laminated sheets/scratch paper from the testing room
  • Continuing to work after time is called by the proctor

Resources for Standards of Academic Conduct

Exam Accommodations
Students who have a letter of accommodation from Disability Resources for Students (DRS) at UW can receive accommodations for examinations. Exam accommodations must be requested from the Department as early as possible.