It’s time to share a bit of information with the people reading this blog, that I hadn’t anticipated ever having to write.
In December 2010, I took, and failed, my farm animal written exam. I missed the pass mark by 2 points, and while I was not happy about the prospect of resitting the exam in July, I recognized that reviewing the material a second time would only serve to benefit me. If I pass, I prefer to pass with a healthy 60+% (remember, in the UK, 60% is akin to a B-), just so I know that I hadn’t “scraped past.”
On my way to Cramond
I spent a lot of my summer studying for this resit exam, grabbing minutes to review flashcards between appointments at my EMS placement and re-reading notes in a nearby cafe. I came back to the UK for about two weeks of intensive studying, spending long hours in the library with my study-partner, answering practice questions and constantly quizing myself. I never feel fully prepared for an exam, but I was more knowledgeable this time around, and felt some comfort in knowing I was only 2 points away from passing in my first attempt.
Fast-forward two weeks later, to when I found out I had failed the exam for a second time. I wasn’t surprised - quickly after leaving the exam, and when chatting with my friends, I realized that I had misunderstood one of the essay questions and wrote about the wrong topic, which I knew would probably cost me the exam - but I was still very upset. Very suddenly, I went from moving steadily along the stream with the rest of the school, to realizing I had made a mistake that would hold me back, and cost me a lot of time and money.
The breakwater at Cramond Beach
The consequence of failing this exam for the second time is that I must take it a third time: in December of 2011, with the class of students I had once called “the year below me” and must now call my own. The class that used to be mine - now “the year above me” started final year yesterday. They’ll spend this year mostly in the hospital, acting as vets-to-be; I will be back in the lecture theatre, re-learning about farm animals, come the end of September.
After I take the exam for the third time, I am free for awhile: as I have already passed all of the course work in the Spring Semester of 4th year, I don’t need to retake any of it. Being (mostly) free until August, and without a work visa, and no longer a student, I have to move back to the United States for awhile. I am not upset about moving home, but I hadn’t planned to come back to California under these circumstances.
Near Ocean Terminal
All of this news has been very upsetting for me, especially to my confidence, and I was hesitant to share any of this publicly. But, ultimately I decided it was important to open up about this, because I think the next generation of US/Canadian students looking to apply to vet college abroad, should be aware of the consequences of doing poorly. No one thinks they’ll struggle to the point of failure - I certainly didn’t - and I should emphasize that I am part of a small fraction of students who failed their exams for a second time this year, so I am not wishing to scare people away. The clear majority of students make it to the end without having to re-organize their plans for resitting a semester. But shit happens. And while students fail in US/Canadian vet schools as well, failing and re-taking a course in a foreign University brings even more complications. I think it’s only fair that future applicants are able to prepare for a ‘worst-case’ scenario.
NB Worth noting is that the UK system of re-sitting years, while increasingly less common, is still more frequently encountered than in US universities. UK students traditionally leave vet school with substantially less debt than their American and Canadian counterparts, and at a younger age; thus spending extra time in University is perhaps less dramatic a consequence. Believe it or not, over here, re-sitting a year is not seen as a mark of a poor student, but rather that the student needed a bit more time - although I dread trying to explain that to a future US employer!
"Remember, you passed the Cat and Dog part of the course alright!"