Assessment is an integral part of instruction; it is the central feature of the educational process because it is the means by which academic standards are both assured and expressed. Assessment, besides measuring how well each student is progressing towards achieving the program learning objectives/outcomes, also influences many other aspects of the educational related components and goals such as faculty commitment and time, student behavior and professional future as well as university reputation. The California Northstate University College of Medicine uses University-wide and program-specific assessments to continuously improve the quality of its courses, curriculum, student services and educational environment in order to assure that each student reaches the highest level of professional competency by the time of graduation.

For the student, Assessment can be reduced to the simple concept of a process that measures the individual’s progression towards achieving the established program learning objectives/outcomes. These program learning objectives/outcomes have been designed to prepare students for their future role as physicians. Several types of assessment will be offered at the College of Medicine which reflect either “formative” or “summative” examinations. “Formative” examinations are designed to monitor extent of learning by providing help to the students in identifying their strengths, versus weaknesses or areas that need improvement. The scores of these examination are for the benefit of the students in gauging their progress and do not contribute to the final grade. “Summative” examinations are taken at the conclusion of a course and represent the “final examination”, whose scores comprise a major part of the final course grade. At California Northstate University College of Medicine, we will be using state-of-the-art electronic learning management, curriculum management and assessment management systems.

Summative and formative examinations will offer students ample experience with the question format and type of testing needed to perform well in the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), a three-step examination required for medical licensure in the United States. To learn more about the USMLE, please visit the official USMLE website

Phase A (Year 1 & 2)

Systems-based Courses

Examinations in the systems-based courses will feature multiple choice clinical vignette style questions intended to: 1) ensure adequate comprehension of basic science concepts as they apply to patient scenarios, 2) objectively identify areas that need improvement, and 3) familiarize students with the style and complexity of questions encountered in the USMLE Step 1 examination.

Medical Skills

The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is the direct observation of students during simulated patient encounters. During an OSCE, a student interacts with a standardized patient. Standardized patients are persons who have been trained to perform the part of a “patient” with specific symptoms and diseases. Use of standardized patients in the OSCE setting allows for maximum objectivity and uniformity in evaluating student performance.

The mini-OSCE (formative exam) and OSCE (summative exam) will be used to: 1) improve efficiency in the basic clinical history and physical exam skills needed for 3rd and 4th year clerkships, 2) objectively identify areas that need improvement, and 3) familiarize students with the process used in USMLE step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination.

Phase B (Year 3)


A National Board of Medical Examiners Clinical Science Subject examination will be administered at the end of each clerkship. These examinations will be used to: 1) ensure adequate comprehension of clinical science concepts and their application to patients, 2) objectively identify areas that need improvement, and 3) familiarize students with the content and types of questions they are likely to encounter in the USMLE step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examination.