Ross University

How To Pass Your First Semester At Ross University

A fourth semester student made me realize that I will be giving the same advice to first semester students again next semester. And again after that. Instead of repeating myself, I’ll simply share how to pass your first semester of medical school at Ross University as well as study skill advice.


Beware of who you take advice from (except me of course)

I distinctively remember being told by an upper semester ‘not to bother focusing on lymphatic drainage’. Low and behold, at least three questions on lymphatic drainage popped up on my first exam. Similarly, last semester was the exordium of Ross teaching first semester students immunology. It just goes to show you that each semester is unique. Be aware that Ross is continually adapting to improve our educational experience and professors and material change- no two semesters are identical thus far. So, listen to your upper semester peers. They are smart and have gone through everything you are about to experience. Just take everything with a grain of salt.


Surround yourself with positivity.

You are going to have enough on your plate this semester without having negative-Nancy bothering you. It might seem discourteous, but avoid negative people who bring you down at all costs. Find a good group of friends who exude positivity and stick with them. I don’t know how I would have been able to make it through my first semester without the support of my friends down here in Dominica.


Work hard, play hard.

Find ways to reward yourself for all of the hard work you put in. It can be going for a swim in the Caribbean, playing basketball or soccer in the evening, or simply enjoying a good novel. Whatever it is that helps you unwind and relax- do it. You can’t study non-stop every single day or else you will simply burn out. Med school is a marathon, not a race (and no, you don’t sprint marathons).


Remind yourself why you are here.

Every once in a while I found myself down and out. It was a long and hectic week with not nearly enough sleep. I needed to find motivation to keep going. I went home, showered, relaxed, and reminded myself of all the years of hard work and dedication I invested in myself in order to simply gain acceptance into medical school. I thought about how proud both my parents and I will be when I graduate. I thought about how much I look forward to treating my first patient. Just like that, my smile returned to my face and motivation to my mind. Keep your long-term goals in the back of your mind and don’t forget why you are here.


Don’t compare yourself to the valedictorian.

There are going to be other students with master’s degrees in biochemistry and other students who have previously been anatomy TA’s. Don’t stress about what other people know. Focus on what is in your control instead of lamenting over the fact that someone else might know a certain subject in more detail that you do. There is a fine line between recognizing that you might want to look over the anatomy of the arm once more after your friend displayed such an amazing mastery of the limb and freaking out because you feel like you don’t know anything.


Although it should go without saying, don’t forget to study.

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  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your post.

    I’m a current 1st. Sem. What’s a “comfortable” % going into mini 4 and the final? And is it true that the MPS is usually around 62-63? And how is the final (conceptual, detailed, mixed, etc.)?

    • Marc N. Katz says:

      Hey Tim,

      First off let me just say that as a current fourth, I took a different structured anatomy curriculum than you are right now. We studied anatomy over two semesters along with the physio, pharm, biochem, etc. We had to finish the semester with a passing grade in each respective block (i.e. your mini 1+2, mini 3, and mini 4 were our blocks 1, 2, and 3). So I can’t give you an exact number, but the higher the better. It gives you peace of mind knowing you have a little more wiggle room (just in case).

      Since I’ve been here the MPS has always been around a 62-63 for the first semester. I spoke to a friend in second semester and I was told the MPS last semester was a 62 as well. Just watch out- the MPS goes up every semester as you progress.

      Studying for the finals- its daunting. But you definitely have enough time to go over everything. Its the same style as your minis so keep doing what you were doing. Go over your own concept sheet and find out what you got wrong and make sure you know it. And test your knowledge- do practice questions to find out what you don’t know and then go study it!

      Hope it helps. Feel free to follow up if you want some clarification. Good luck on your practical tomorrow!


  2. Pingback: How to Avoid Failing First emester | T. McGill

  3. Jimmy Mills says:

    Thank you for the post. I am starting my first semester in the fall and to be honest I am quite intimidated. Surrounding myself with positive people is something that I always try to do. I think getting a nice study group will be helpful.

    • Marc N. Katz says:

      Congrats on starting medical school! Its quite an accomplishment. And don’t worry- I was terrified of failing throughout the duration of my first semester. It’s perfectly normal as long as you don’t let it consume you. Just be careful with study groups. As long as you actually study you should be fine. Good luck Jimmy! Let me know if you have any specific questions or concerns and I’d be happy to address them.

  4. Hello,
    I will be starting in the fall of 2015 as well and it was truly, very encouraging to see this post. I’ve been hearing so many negative things about the island and the school in general and I’ve been trying to best to look and hear past those things. Having a mentor like yourself would be a great support down there. Thank you for the post!

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