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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

IS IT REALLY PASS/FAIL? 

YES. I repeat, yes. For the first two years, a 75% on all exams guarantees a pass. UCSD SOM believes that such a system encourages long-term learning as opposed to "cramming" to get an A. There is no internal ranking, and no one else (not even course directors) will know your individual scores. 

HOW DOES GRADING WORK THEN?

As was mentioned above, the pass line is set at 75% for every block. That being said, course instructors have the discretion to lower the pass line as they see fit (it will never be set higher). Transcripts will read "pass" or "no pass." Students have opportunities to remediate any block that they didn't pass the first time. Third and fourth year clerkships transition to a Honors/Pass/Fail system. 

OTHER SCHOOLS HAVE WEEKLY QUIZZES, HOW DOES IT WORK AT UCSD? 

We have weekly quizzes, however, they are optional! Quizzes are usually posted at 5pm on Friday. Quizzes are ungraded, and are meant to serve as a check on understanding of the material for the week. Questions are fairly similar to what students should expect to see on an exam. PDFs of detailed answers to questions are available after the quiz opens.

ATTENDANCE, WHAT IS MANDATORY, WHAT ISN'T?

In a nutshell: only small group sessions are mandatory. Lecture is not mandatory, and all lectures are podcasted online. Students are allowed two personal days per year during which attendance is excused. See the curriculum tab for a more detailed description of attendance requirements for classes!

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND STUDYING PER DAY, AND HOW OFTEN ARE TESTS?

It really depends on the student, their learning style, and their preferences! The general rule of thumb is that for every hour spent in class, a student should spend another 2 hours studying the material. That being said, this is highly variable. Depending on the block, tests are about every 2-3 weeks. The exam schedule is posted well in advance and can be found on the SOM official website.

WHAT IS THE CLINICAL EXPOSURE LIKE OVER THE FIRST TWO YEARS?

Over the first two years, your mandatory clinical exposure is ACA, or the Ambulatory Care Apprenticeship. In ACA, you are assigned to a UCSD Internal Medicine/Family Medicine physician and you apply the knowledge you learn in lectures and practice of medicine courses with real patients. Patients are informed that you are a medical student and then after your initial evaluation, you present to your physician before re-entering the room for a final assessment. You have 5 ACA encounters per quarter, and are paired with the same ACA mentor for your first 2 preclinical years. 

You can also fill up your schedule with Specialty Preceptorship Electives (get credit to shadow a physician), Free Clinic or shadowing that you coordinate on your own with different physicians around UCSD and the other amazing hospitals in the area. These are great ways to increase your clinical exposure and build a foundation of real world experience to the knowledge you obtain in class. 

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

WHAT DO MOST STUDENTS DO IN THEIR SPARE TIME? 

Popular activities include but are not limited to: surfing, running, hiking, Netflix, reading, sleeping, various student organizations, IM sports, visiting breweries, exploring San Diego, and hanging out with friends. 

WHAT ARE THE PERKS OF LIVING IN LA JOLLA?

La Jolla is one of the most beautiful parts of San Diego. Great foods, better breweries, and proximity to the beach are some of the things that draw people to this area. This is a very active community that is dog and kid friendly. It is about 25 minutes from downtown, which also has its own sets of extracurricular activities, food and fun!

WHAT TYPES OF WORKOUT FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS?

UCSD SOM students have access to all of the amenities on the undergraduate campus, including two full gyms, a ropes course, an outdoor track, and two pools. Students can elect to participate in intramurals, recreation classes, and outdoor activities (surfing!). On-campus graduate housing complexes also have their own small gyms. 

MISCELLANEOUS

WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF BECOMING A CALIFORNIA RESIDENT? 

The process to become a California resident is relatively simple, though you will be required to pay out-of-state tuition for at least your first year. As a graduate student, you are considered financially independent, and therefore do not need to fill out additional work requirements to prove financial independence. Upon moving to California, visit a DMV to receive a California license, change registration of your car and car insurance to a California address, and change your voter registration. In addition, UCSD will ask for proof of tax documents showing your California address. The full list of documents required is listed on the UCSD website here: 

In summary, it is very easy to change status from non-resident to resident, provided you complete the simple requirements listed above. For the savings (several thousand dollars in tuition each year), just about all out-of-state students find it to be very worth it!

WHAT IS THE PRE-ORIENTATION OUTDOOR PROGRAM (POOP)?

This is an optional camping trip that you take with 50 other first year medical students and a handful of second year students. The Pre-Orientation Outdoor Program usually happens the weekend prior to orientation week. We’ll give you more information about the Pre-Orientation Outdoor Program later, but it’s a fantastic way to get to know your classmates before school begins! Oh and you also learn a little bit about Wilderness Medicine.

IS THERE A CLASS OF 2026 FB PAGE?

YES! Please click the link below to be redirected to your FB page: 

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