Foundations Grading & Assessment

The first phase of the curriculum, the Foundations Phase, consists of eight blocks as depicted in the curriculum schematic. Three threads (Pharmacology, Human Form and Function, and Pathology/Histology) are purposefully integrated and interwoven throughout all Foundations blocks. Integrated clinical experiences occur throughout the entire Foundations Phase in the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course.

All blocks/courses in the Foundations Phase are graded as Pass/Fail.

Foundations of Clinical Medicine (FCM)

Your grade in the FCM course will be based on the following:

  • Participation
  • Completion of all assignments
  • Satisfactory progress in clinical skills development as assessed by FCM faculty and your Primary Care Practicum (PCP) preceptor in the clinical setting

Basic Science/Organ System Blocks

Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives of the curriculum through their performance on assessments. Assessment questions in quizzes/exams emphasize the application of knowledge and problem-solving over the recall of facts.

UWSOM works hard to ensure that the educational experience is comparable at all six WWAMI sites in the Foundations Phase curriculum, with the same learning objectives and content. Assessments (quizzes, exams, etc.) are the same across all sites and are conducted at or near the same time at all sites. The grading of student performance in the block is identical at all sites.

The following assessment and grading guidelines apply at all Foundations Phase sites:

  • All assessments that account for 10% or more of the grade are computerized, given via Examplify/Examsoft and proctored.
  • Blocks have assessments at least every two weeks. In addition, there may be a comprehensive final examination at the end of a block.
  • Students are only allowed to reschedule exams in the event of illness or personal emergency. Please see the attendance/absence policy for more details.
  • Additional “readiness” quizzes may be offered to help facilitate student learning and gauge progress; these may count toward the final grade.
  • In some blocks, participation in small groups may be assessed and count toward the final grade. Students will be informed in advance if this is the case.
  • Most block exams are comprised of multiple-choice questions (MCQs). For exams with MCQs, pacing is as follows:
    • Term 1 & 2 = 2 min/question
    • Term 3 = 1.5 min/question (this is USMLE pacing)
  • Each assessment may have questions that are tagged for the three threads; these questions will contribute both to your block grade, and to your thread score for that particular term. Students will be told in advance how many thread-tagged questions are on each exam.
  • Immediately following assessments, students are allowed to briefly view the exam questions, along with the correct answer and rationales.
  • After assessments are completed, block faculty across all sites meet to discuss student performance, and adjust scores as needed. Scores are posted to the gradebook in Canvas (UW learning management system) as soon as possible afterward.
  • Typically, a student must achieve a cumulative score of 70% in order to pass a block.
  • Individual summary reports of performance on block learning objectives and threads are available for students to download after each assessment.
  • Students have the ability to generate reports in Examsoft on their cumulative thread performance after each exam. Official thread scores will be posted in Canvas at the end of each block. A final determination of thread mastery is made at the end of each of the three Foundations Phase terms. Typically, a thread score of 70% is required for demonstration of mastery.
  • Students who fail a block or fail to achieve mastery in a thread will be referred to the Student Progress Committee, who will determine the next steps.

You can find additional useful information on examinations at the following links: