Customer Stories

A 30% improvement in exam scores for medical students and doctors

Discover how the Medical Defence Union helped prepare their members for their final exams


The Medical Defence Union

The Medical Defence Union (MDU), renowned as the UK’s leading medical defence organisation, provides indemnification to doctors for incidents arising from their clinical care of patients.

Seeking to elevate their offering for medical students and junior doctors, the MDU envisioned an a modern and innovative online assessment platform. The platform aimed to be a valuable resource for both new and existing members, empowering them to effectively prepare for their formal examinations.

The MDU's dedication to the progression of medical education and the success of its members is showcased by the continued use and membership growth with Synap since 2018.

The challenge: Meeting the demands of intensive medical education with limited time

Addressing the dynamic demands of medical education, the MDU sought to enhance their member offerings with a solution that not only resonated with their audience but also proved valuable in the intense journey of student and doctor life. Navigating the complexities of medical knowledge, essential for safeguarding patient health, requires a deep and comprehensive understanding.

In the face of time constraints, medical students and practitioners often find themselves in the midst of cramming sessions and seizing every available moment for study. Many have become familiar with the image of lugging hefty textbooks to hospital wards for impromptu study breaks, lingering in university libraries until the late hours, or hunched over a desk in their bedroom!

The conventional method of learning from textbooks tends to be disengaging, fostering memorisation rather than the cultivation of in-depth understanding into the subject matter.

The solution: An assessment platform designed by doctors

Synap was founded by two doctors, James (CEO) and Omair (CTO), during their time in medical school, and emerged from the shared challenges faced by medical students and doctors during their academic journey. Synap was developed as a solution to make learning and exam preparation more interactive, engaging and impactful, and scaled quickly, with 1 in 4 UK medical students using Synap to prepare for their exams.

Synap has established a longstanding partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP), globally recognised as a leading authority in medical publishing. Synap provides digitised versions of OUP’s widely acclaimed clinical assessment handbooks, held in high regard throughout the international medical community.

“Oxford University Press is delighted to be partnering with Synap to provide an exciting new platform to showcase our products. Our self-assessment content is already the cornerstone of a young medic’s revision, and our new collaboration will allow broader access to these high-quality resources through Synap’s innovative online study platform.” - Sean, Medical Publishing Director, Oxford University Press

Recognising Synap's expertise in medical education and its collaboration with OUP, the MDU chose Synap as their innovative assessment platform. This decision aligns with the MDU's commitment to integrating cutting-edge tools with rich, expert content, ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach to medical education and examination preparation.


Elevating engagement with dynamic question banks

The MDU enriched its member offerings by providing access to OUP's clinical assessment handbooks through comprehensive question banks. Leveraging Synap's innovative exam preparation tools, both students and doctors gained the flexibility to tailor their practice experience.

In "Practice mode", users not only attempted questions but also received immediate feedback. This real-time feedback was intricately linked to each question, facilitating an instant understanding enhancement and addressing any misconceptions.

“I have found Synap incredibly useful as I find it a very intuitive platform to use for testing my medical knowledge. Further to this I find that the information provided as feedback when completing the questions is very easy to understand and manageable. The fact that it explains each of the answers separately is incredibly useful as well.” - Adam, medical student

For a more realistic examination simulation, participants could switch to "Exam mode", receiving results at the end of the session. Alternatively, the "Timed Exam mode" closely mirrored the pressures of a live, timed exam, preparing users for the conditions they would encounter on the actual exam day.

The utilisation of these diverse exam modes not only enhanced participants' understanding but also cultivated effective exam habits, contributing to a more robust and comprehensive learning experience.

Different exam modes

In-depth performance insights with robust reporting

MDU members benefitted from a wealth of data and analytics through Synap's powerful reporting tools. Upon exam completion, learners received immediate, detailed feedback on their performance.

The tag breakdown bar chart feature emerged as a valuable tool, allowing participants to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses across diverse categories, including subjects (e.g. Cardiology), topics (e.g. Cardiovascular disease), sub-topics (e.g. Arrhythmias), and question difficulty levels.

For a holistic view of their progress, users could turn to the progress line graph, providing insights into the consistency of their performance across various tag categories. This comprehensive reporting not only enhanced self-awareness but also empowered members to refine their study strategies for optimal exam preparedness.

“I've been having such a hard time preparing adequately for any exam as a medical student and Synap has been such a great help. The quizzes are spot on and allow me to realize what I need to focus on more and what I already know.” - Nikita, medical student

Tag breakdown - clinical medicine

Tailored learning with self-selection of question tags from questions banks

Upon reviewing their exam results and gaining insights into their strengths and areas for improvement, members were empowered to proactively enhance their knowledge.

Leveraging Synap's versatile filtering system, learners could create personalised quizzes drawn from the extensive question banks. This intuitive system allowed users to handpick specific question tags, including subject, topic, sub-topic, difficulty, and skill, shaping a targeted quiz that precisely aligned with their focus areas.

This tailored approach not only optimised learning efficiency but also provided a strategic and customised path for continuous improvement.

“I can take pre-made tests and make my own for very specific topic areas which is very useful in consolidating my knowledge. Overall, I would definitely recommend to anyone thinking about joining.” - Eden, medical student

Self generated quiz

Optimising question practice with Spaced Learning algorithms

To enhance the learning experience for MDU members, they were able to activate Synap’s intelligent Spaced Learning algorithms, designed for personalised question practice.

This sophisticated algorithm meticulously tracks each question attempted by a candidate, applying Spaced Repetition principles to curate a daily quiz tailored to the individual's strengths and weaknesses. As learners consistently master questions, they progress from a 'Novice' stage to a 'Mastered' stage, with increasing intervals between repetitions, promoting long-term retention.

In the event of an incorrect response, the algorithm strategically increases the frequency of displaying the question, offering more opportunities for focused practice.

This bespoke learning approach enables users to concentrate on questions aligned with their current learning stage, eliminating the guesswork and time wasted on deciding what to focus on.


Synap's Spaced Learning yields a 30% improvement in scores

Synap's Spaced Learning algorithms underwent rigorous testing at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, where a clinical study revealed strong student support for the system's extended use. Participants reported increased engagement, enhanced learning, and an overall enjoyable experience.

“Synap is helping my students to reinforce their knowledge of complex medical information. I know more about how my students, on average, use the excellent system. This is helping us to move forward with both educational best practice and educational research publications.” - Harry, Professor of Physiology, Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Internal analysis further substantiates the effectiveness of Synap, showing a notable 15% improvement in score performance for students who used Synap and selected their practice questions - an equivalent increase from a C grade to a B grade.

Remarkably, those who combined Synap with the Spaced Learning algorithms witnessed an extraordinary 30% improvement in exam results, equivalent to elevating a grade from a C to an A grade!

Empowering mobile learning for busy medical professionals

In catering to the demanding schedules of medical students and practitioners, MDU introduces a mobile-friendly learning approach. Through Synap's user-friendly iOS and Android apps, members can now seamlessly incorporate practice questions into their busy daily routines.

This innovation not only promotes flexibility in exam preparation but also liberates users from the burden of carrying hefty textbooks, facilitating on-the-go learning experiences. With this mobile solution, candidates gain the freedom to engage in continuous learning, making exam preparation an integral part of their dynamic lifestyles, available at their fingertips.


Conclusion: Revolutionising medical education

In the ever-evolving landscape of medical education, the MDU has taken a pioneering leap towards transformative learning experiences with Synap. By addressing the challenges faced by medical students and doctors, Synap has emerged as an invaluable companion on their educational journey since 2018.

From comprehensive question banks to leveraging the personalisation power of Spaced Learning algorithms, MDU members have witnessed a paradigm shift in their approach to exam preparation, and elevating exam performance to prepare them for their future careers.

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