Friday was the first day of classes for second-year MBBS students but there was a drop in the number who actually turned up.

Nearly 59 of the 165 students of the Madras Medical College and 15 of the 100 in Kilpauk Medical College did not attend lectures. The students who had failed in various exams, now must wait for six months to take supplementary exams, only after which they can attend classes.

First-year students have three subjects, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry with two theory papers each along with practicals and oral assessment.

This is after Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University raised standards of evaluation of papers and stipulated that students who did not score a minimum in each paper would fail the year.

The pattern of questions for anatomy, which students and teachers say has always been a difficult subject, also changed this year. Thus, of the 59 students who were not able to secure pass marks in GH, 28 of them failed in anatomy. Similarly, at KMC, of the 15 who did not pass, 11 failed in anatomy. A few failed in more than one paper.

“The students usually study from the past examination question papers. This year, instead of the usual short notes questions, the students had to write an entire essay. They were not prepared for it,” said a lecturer of anatomy at KMC.

Students found the second anatomy paper particularly challenging. “The second paper is more complicated because it contains neuroanatomy which is considerably harder,” said Premkumar (name changed), a student of KMC who scored 55 in the first paper of anatomy and 35 in the second.

Students however complained that grading them on a different set of standards was unfair as other deemed universities and medical colleges in other parts of the country were employing more lenient criteria. “The colleges in other states, private or government, have a cumulative score rule,” noted Jai Praveen, a second-year student at MMC. The University had tried to implement these standards last year but had to back down in the face of student protests and students approaching the Madras High Court.

Senior students also noted that unlike physiology and biochemistry, which are introduced in class XII syllabus, anatomy is a fresh subject for students. “The jump from school to college is big enough. Getting accustomed to such a complicated course takes some time,” said Prakash, (name changed) a pre-final year student of MMC.

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