MD Curriculum Grading & Assessments
Students celebrating graduation day

Outcomes-Driven Assessments

Medical school is challenging. While you are here, we want you to focus on understanding and applying everything you learn, with the feedback you need to keep improving. 

Core competencies drive your learning, evaluation and progress.

Medical school is challenging. While you are here, we want you to focus on understanding and applying everything you learn. Our assessments are designed to provide you with the feedback you need to keep improving.

You’ll find:

  • A collegial, collaborative environment
  • Approachable faculty who are happy to answer your questions
  • Peers who share information and study with each other to achieve their highest potential
  • Clearly defined competencies and expectations that align with national and institutional standards
  • Data-driven changes to the curriculum based on internal and external assessments


By graduation, you will master eight competencies that drive your progress through our program. Six of these are national standards that align directly with what is expected in residency, and two more are specific to Michigan.*

The Big 8:

  1. Patient Care
  2. Medical Knowledge
  3. Communication
  4. Professionalism
  5. Leadership, Teamwork and Interprofessionalism*
  6. Systems-Based Practice
  7. Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  8. Critical Thinking and Discovery*

Competency-based education emphasizes the development of learners in multiple domains. Throughout the course of your medical school education, you will be assessed and provided meaningful feedback on your development, to help you continue on the journey of lifelong learning in residency and beyond."

Seetha Monrad
MD, Associate Dean for Medical Student Education and Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine and Learning Health Sciences


Our assessment of your progress includes both cognitive and non-cognitive components. You will be evaluated in several ways:

  • Observation
  • Clinical skills examinations
  • Tests of knowledge and clinical reasoning skills

Professional characteristics essential to the practice of medicine are also considered in the evaluation process. Students collaborate with faculty mentors to develop and modify individualized learning plans that map out training goals and expectations.

During the science and clinical foundation courses, students are assessed via frequent integrated quizzes and exams at the end of each course. Each integrated quiz is followed by a Second Chance Quiz, which allows students an additional opportunity to test for learning, reinforce material and attempt to relieve some of the stress that accompanies those quizzes.  Additionally, students receive narrative feedback on performance and areas to develop in the Doctoring Course from their small-group faculty. Coaching faculty help students process feedback from the domains of the curriculum (e.g. cardiovascular, leadership, anatomy) to help guide improvement.

During clinical segments, students are assessed on dimensions of knowledge; patient care; communication; professionalism; leadership teamwork and interprofessional collaboration; practice-based learning and improvement; and critical thinking and discovery. Feedback is given at regular intervals and includes comments from faculty and residents with whom the students worked.


At Michigan, your achievement of competencies and strengths/areas for improvement are evaluated by a Competency Committee that follows your progress through medical school from start to finish. This mirrors how residency programs evaluate residents, and emphasizes a holistic, data-driven approach to reviewing your performance.


  • Basic Science Trunk/M1: Satisfactory/Fail
  • Clinical Trunk/M2:
    • Transition = Satisfactory/Fail
    • Clerkships = Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail and Competency-based Assessments*
  • Branches/M3 & M4: Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail, Competency-based Assessments, and Capstone Project: Satisfactory/Fail

*Beginning in 2024-25, our M2 students will receive Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail grades during core clerkships that are flexible within each grading tier. In other words, students will be graded not against their peers but rather on their own performance in relation to specified criteria within each clerkship. Students will be able to distinguish themselves for their future residency application process while still focusing on learning the material and collaborating with their classmates.


All students sign the Honor Code before starting their first class. The Honor Code was developed by students and faculty, and clearly outlines the expectations and details of the high ethical standards students hold themselves to as members, and future ambassadors, of the Michigan community. Read the Honor Code in the most recent UMMS Bulletin.

An overhead shot of two people talking
A unique approach to medical student evaluation

A medical educator discusses competency-based medical education.

Read the full article