Foundations Grading & Assessment

General FAQ

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

UWSOM works hard to ensure that the educational experience is comparable at all six WWAMI campuses 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.

Students who fail a block will be referred to the Student Progress Committee, who will determine the next steps.

Students have the right to review, challenge, or appeal grades. Please visit the Foundations Grade Review, Challenge, and Appeal Process page for more information.

Basic Science/Organ System Blocks FAQ

Students are expected to demonstrate competency with the learning objectives of the curriculum through their performance on assessments. Student performance can be assessed in a variety of ways depending on the block:

  • Multiple-choice questions (MCQ)
  • Short answer questions
  • Anatomical pin tests
  • Quizzes
  • Assignments
  • Presentations
  • Participation in small groups

Each graded component is given a percentage weight toward the final grade. Typically, a student must achieve a cumulative score of 70% across all assessments in order to pass a block.


  • Assessment questions in exams emphasize the application of knowledge and problem-solving over the recall of facts.
  • Blocks will have exams every 1-2 weeks.
  • All blocks will have a comprehensive final exam.
  • Most exams will be given on computer via Examsoft/Examplify.
  • The Exam Environment policy has more details on how exams are delivered.

MCQ Exams

  • For Terms 1 and 2, students will be given 2 minutes per question. For Term 3, this will be reduced to 1.5 minutes per question, to help prepare for USMLE pacing.

Anatomical Pin Tests

  • These tests will take place in the anatomy lab. Students will answer questions about the location and function of various anatomic structures.

As per the Foundations Exam Reschedule Policy, students may reschedule exams for personal illness or personal/family emergencies. More details can be found at the link above.

  • Immediately following assessments, students are shown a preliminary score. They are allowed to briefly view the exam questions, along with the correct answer and rationales, in a secure environment.
  • Individual summary reports of performance on block learning objectives and threads are available for students to download after all students have completed each assessment.

  • Students are able to leave comments on specific questions during exams and flag those comments for review by the block leads. These comments are downloaded and distributed (anonymously) to the block leads after each exam. Students are also free to email their block leads with questions after they have completed the exam.
  • After each exam the block leads and the assessment team meet to discuss the statistical performance of all questions on the exam, as well as comments left by students. Sometimes this results in score adjustments (this is why the score you see immediately after the exam is considered “preliminary”). When score adjustments are made, students will be notified via email when the final exam grades are made available in Canvas.

Details can be found on the Thread Competency page.

Scores from exams and other assessments will be available to students via Canvas. The gradebook will show the students current grade at any point based on which assessments have been completed and their weight toward the final grade.

Students can also see their exam and thread performance via the Student Performance Dashboard.

Details can be found on the Disability Resources for MD Students page.

Foundations of Clinical Medicine (FCM) FAQ

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