Medical school is academically challenging. Often, students that have never struggled to keep up with course material and volume begin to experience new challenges.

We have an extensive system of resources to assist students with learning as efficiently and effectively as possible. In order to identify how students learn as efficiently as possible, we are conducting on-going research regarding factors that contribute to student performance and provide information and resources to help students maximize performance. Medical Student Services student success programs exists to provide advising, support, and assistance that empowers students to have the most successful and productive medical school experience possible.


Any of these resources may be accessed by contacting Maija Braaten, M.Ed. or Denise Coston

  • Individual Academic Advising: Medical Student Services offers a holistic and developmental advising approach as the initial and primary form of delivering services to students. Please see the Academic Advising syllabus for further information about our advising services.
  • Assessments: We have identified a few key factors that relate to a student's academic performance and can provide access to evaluation instruments on these factors. The assessments provide insight that is beneficial in designing individual academic success plans that incorporate a student’s strengths and addresses potential areas for growth. Assessments include:
    • Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory
    • VARK Learning Modality
    • MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)
  • Group Trainings/Workshops: We provide periodic group training experiences. In these sessions students are given specific learning strategies and tips suited to the specific module being referenced and the specific learning strengths of the student.
  • Test-taking strategies: Strategies to approach multiple choice test items and especially test items in USMLE format are discussed in Group Training and in Individual Advising.
  • Free learning resources are available to students of the SOM. These include on-line and paper-based test banks, library links to multiple learning resources, and peer tutoring may be arranged as needed.
  • USMLE study strategies and tips.

Programs and Events 

  • Students participating in the pre-matriculation program are all assessed individually and provided in-depth instruction in their individual learning strengths. They are also given structured opportunities to practice and perfect the learning strategies that will most benefit them.
  • At key transitions during the curriculum, optional group sessions are offered. In these sessions, students are provided with specific tips and resources to improve academic performance in that phase of the curriculum.

Time Line

  • Students are required to take several assessments prior to orientation.
  • Students in the pre-matriculation program are given group and individual feedback and opportunities to practice new learning strategies.
  • Early in Fundamentals 1 we offer group instruction specific to their learning strengths as it applies to the content of the course. This content includes test-taking strategy specific to learning style.
  • Early in Fundamentals II we offer group instruction that reviews the learning styles and modalities and gives specific suggestions for managing the content of the course.
  • Early in the Cardiovascular module we offer group instruction to apply learning style and learning modality to the organ module milieu. Specific suggestions for test taking strategies are discussed as more double jump and triple jump questions become more common.
  • In the Fall of the MS-2 year, a class meeting presents information about registering for and planning for USMLE Step 1 preparation.
  • In the Spring of the MS-2 year, students identified at statistical risk for poor USMLE Step 1 performance are individually advised and counseled about best approaches for them to avoid a failure.
  • Students that fail USMLE Step 1 meet individually with a dean and with Maija Braaten to map out plans to prepare for the re-take.
  • Students that fail a shelf exam in the clinical years are assessed for learning or test-taking issues that may contribute to poor performance.
  • Students that fail USMLE Step 2CK, or USMLE Step 2CS are assessed and assisted to develop a preparation strategy to prepare them for a successful re-take.

Any of these resources may be accessed by contacting Maija Braaten, M.Ed. or Denise Coston.