College of

Academic Achievement

Contact Dr. Eron Drake, Director of Academic Achievement at

The Office of Academic Achievement in the College of Human Medicine collaborates with medical students and stakeholders to enhance students’ academic and clinical learning experiences by offering a variety of learner-centered programs, services, and resources. These varied activities allow students an opportunity to learn and implement evidence-based study strategies and techniques in order to realize their learning potential.

Philosophy for Educating Future Physicians

We aspire to the virtues outlined in the College of Human Medicine’s Virtuous Professional document when interacting with students and stakeholders. More specifically, we strive to create learning environments and programming that promotes dialogue, reflection and practice as integral processes for growth in medical education. Our programming supports the academic progress of students as they take responsibility for learning, reflect on the adequacy of their knowledge and skills, identify limitations and barriers to learning and growth, and develop ISMART goals to enhance knowledge and skills, overcome limitations, and obtain mastery.

Academic Achievement Programs

Academic Achievement programs include orientations, workshops, webinars, panel discussions, guest speakers, question review sessions and more. Programming activities are offered at various times throughout the academic year and include learning and study strategies relevant to curricular activities and board preparation. Students are regularly notified of upcoming activities by way of the ECE, MCE, or LCE student email listserves.

Approach to the Question Sessions (AQS)

The Approach to the Question Sessions are one of our most popular programs. These sessions are offered regularly throughout the ECE and MCE. These sessions are organized to help students enhance clinical reasoning by utilizing questions aligned with Weekend Learning Module (WLM) content, which incorporates Chief Complaints and Concerns (C3) topics. In these sessions, peer tutors utilize questions as learning tools and lead students through various approaches to reading, analyzing and answering NBME- or board-style questions. More importantly, these approaches facilitate a comprehensive review of C3 topics including the history and presentation, mechanism of action, course and complication, and treatment and management to deepen content knowledge and promote long-term retention of concepts.

Board Preparation Programs

USMLE Step 1

The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. The USMLE Step 1 is designed to assess a physician’s ability to apply knowledge, concepts and principles, and to demonstrate fundamental patient-centered skills (FSMB & NBME, 2018).

The MSU CHM Shared Discovery Curriculum is designed to prepare medical students for success on the USMLE. Medical students are encouraged to begin studying for the USMLE on their first day at CHM by excelling in their coursework and by implementing effective and efficient learning and study strategies. Throughout the curriculum, students are provided Intersessions, programs and resources to assist in their USMLE preparation, including information focused on registration, scheduling, resources, developing an intensive study plan, approaching board-style questions, and utilizing self-assessment resources. Students typically begin intensive study plans in the Spring of their second year.

USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS)

The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 2 consists of two separate examinations. The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) is a multiple–choice exam, which assesses your ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for patient care under supervision (FSMB & NBME, 2015). The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) is a one day, “hands-on” examination, which uses standardized patients to test medical students on their ability to gather information from patients, perform physical exams, and communicate findings to patients and colleagues (FSMB & NBME, 2018).

Medical students are encouraged to begin studying the USMLE Step 2 exams as they begin the LCE. Throughout the LCE and in Advance Skills and Knowledge (ASK) sessions, students are provided resources and strategies to assist in their USMLE exam preparations, similar to programming activities provided for the USMLE Step 1. 

Reference: Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). (2018). The United States Medical Licensing Examination. Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved from

Academic Achievement Services

We offer a variety of services to any student interested in enhancing their academic performance throughout the ECE, MCE, or LCE. Utilizing a model based on the scientific research of gaining expertise, we offer one-on-one and small group coaching and peer tutoring sessions.

Academic Achievement Coaching

Academic Achievement Coaches collaborate with students to optimize their academic and clinical learning experiences. Coaches are available to all students face-to-face in East Lansing and Grand Rapids and is available via technology (e.g., Zoom) at a time that works best for students in consideration of their course and rotation schedules. Example coaching topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Creating a study plan and daily schedule
  • Developing an academic or educational learning plan
  • Developing effective strategies to manage the volume of course content
  • Developing study aids and tools (e.g., graphic organizers, flash cards, diagrams, tables)
  • Enhancing team processes and performance
  • Enhancing test-taking strategies (including how to read and answer NBME-style questions and how to enhance performance on standardized tests)
  • Implementing evidence-based learning and study strategies
  • Implementing reading strategies to enhance comprehension and speed
  • Implementing strategies for effective use of question banks
  • Improving note-making approaches
  • Improving strategies for review and self-testing
  • Managing time effectively and efficiently
  • Organizing and synthesizing information
  • Referrals to other College of Human Medicine or MSU resources
  • Transitioning to Medical School
  • USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills strategies and resources

Typically, coaching sessions are scheduled with students for 30 – 60 minutes to provide time to learn more about academic or professional goals, prior knowledge, approaches to learning, utilization of resources, and current academic progress. Then, depending upon the student’s goals, action steps are identified, which can include recommendations for the implementation of specific learning and study strategies, the identification of resources, and/or referrals to various faculty specialty experts, peer tutors, or other College of Human Medicine or MSU resources.

To request academic assistance or schedule a coaching session, visit the D2L CHM Academic Achievement Website.

“My meeting with [my Academic Achievement Coach] was extremely helpful. She helped me to identify areas/ways that I could be more efficient so that I could spend more time on complex topics.”

(2018 Academic Achievement Assessment)

Confidentiality Guidelines

The majority of coaching sessions are voluntary and confidential. However, in some situations, students are required to meet with the Director or a member of the Office of Academic Achievement. In those cases, the Office of Academic Achievement may be required to summarize or share meeting dates, topics discussed, recommendations, and/or academic learning plans with appropriate MSU College of Human Medicine personnel.

Members of the Office of Academic Achievement may keep notes or records of coaching sessions. These notes may be kept confidential to the maximum extent allowed by the law and may be subject to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and/or Michigan's Freedom of Information Act.

Peer Tutoring

Peer tutors are available to assist students develop and accomplish ISMART academic goals by helping students learn and implement effective study strategies through the exploration of content. This free peer tutor program is available for all students enrolled in CHM. Through this program, students have the opportunity to work individually or in small groups with trained peers who have a sincere interest in helping their colleagues and who have excelled in their coursework or clinical experiences.

In order to provide a quality experience for both tutors and tutees, prospective tutors are required to complete a training and information session to help them develop or reinforce their teaching and tutoring skills. Tutees should expect tutors to encourage them to utilize active learning and study strategies, conceptualize their understanding of science knowledge using various methods, and practice recall and application of their knowledge utilizing practice questions. Depending upon need, tutoring sessions are typically scheduled weekly and may last only a few weeks or may continue throughout a course or semester. Tutoring sessions are limited to a maximum of two hours per week.

Request a Tutor

Students may request a tutor at any time and are encouraged to do so proactively at the earliest indication of difficulty in a course or clerkship by completing an online form accessible on the D2L CHM Academic Achievement Website.

To ensure a customized approach aligned with your academic goals, students may be required to meet with an Academic Achievement Coach prior to confirming a peer tutor assignment.  The Academic Achievement Coach will be able to assist students with their academic goals and assist with the peer tutor assignment. Once students have been matched with a peer tutor, they will be notified of the peer tutor assignment. Students are responsible for contacting their peer tutor to schedule an initial tutoring session.

Tutee Responsibilities:

  • Be sure to schedule tutoring sessions at times that do not conflict with curricular activities.
  • While face-to-face tutoring sessions are recommended, tutoring sessions may be held utilizing technology such as Zoom.
  • Attend all scheduled tutoring sessions. If something unforeseen develops that prevents attendance, notify the tutor prior to the scheduled meeting time.
  • Communicate with your tutor the topics/areas in which you are having difficulty so that they may prepare effective learning activities to assist you
  • Confirm goals and concepts to review at the next session, the next meeting date, and the meeting time at the end of each session.
  • Depending upon how many tutoring interactions students have during the academic year, students may be required to meet with an Academic Achievement Coach to reassess goals, tutoring needs, and/or to identify alternative academic support services or resources.

Please note that using tutoring assistance is not a substitute for consulting with Fellows, and/or faculty, chiefs, clerkship directors, etc. nor is it a substitute for attending scheduled curricular activities. Tutoring hours and/or assignments may be monitored and adjusted during the academic year depending upon the number of tutoring requests and available peer tutors.

 Ninety-two percent of students surveyed would recommend the tutoring program to their friends.

(n = 48, 2018)


A variety of learning assessments as well as online resources are available to all students. At present, students can access resources on the CHM Academic Achievement website in D2L. These resources include Biomedical Science Review Modules as well as online learning and study strategies resources for ECE, MCE, and LCE students.

Learning and Thinking Assessments

Entering students are asked to take the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) and the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Assessment prior to Orientation. Both assessments are administered online. The inventories help students determine their strengths and potential areas for improvement. We will review the results with individual students, upon request, and will provide recommendations for enhancing specific learning and study strategies in alignment with student goals.


Eron Drake, EdD, Director of Academic Achievement
A112M Clinical Center or 361 Secchia Center
(517) 884-1849

Renoulte Allen, EdD, Assistant Director of Academic Achievement
371 Secchia Center
(616) 234-2624

Todd McHerron, MD, Medical Academic Specialist
A112N Clinical Center
(517) 884-1855

Vance Kincaid, MS, Medical Education Program Coordinator
370 Secchia Center
(616) 234-6226

Amy Ward, MEd, Medical Education Learning Specialist
A112H Clinical Center
(517) 884-1860

Ginger Eardley, Clerical Aide, Grand Rapids
350 Secchia Center
(616) 234-2698

Megan Stechschulte, Office Coordinator, East Lansing
A112 Clinical Center
(517) 884-1847