Imperial College London

Imperial MedSTEP: Medical students develop new online platform for revision


Students have created an interactive and user-friendly self-testing platform, as part of a range of projects supporting learning at the College.

The project, called 'Imperial MedSTEP' (Self-Tests for Exam Preparation), involved Year 1 & 2 MBBS students working together during summer 2018 in order to develop a revision platform that their cohort and future students will be able to use throughout the academic year.

The participants were part of ‘StudentShapers’ - Imperial's staff-student research hub that provides both communities the opportunity to transform learning and teaching at the College.

The partnership aims to enhance the learning experience by fostering collaboration, with the end results being incorporated back into students’ curriculum. Students are provided with financial support and expert advice to support them taking part in research and ensure projects have as high an impact as possible.

Developing the concept

The Imperial MedSTEP project was developed by Dr Tanvi Agrawal, a Teaching Fellow associated with Years 1 & 2 of the the MBBS course.

Dr Agrawal accepted ten students to take part in the project, with the support of seven members of staff. During two months over the summer holidasy students committed two to three weeks of their time.

Staff partners included: Dr Michael Emerson, Mr Alex Furr, Mr Ashish Hemani, Dr James Moss, Dr Amir Sam, Professor Mary Morrell

Student partners included: Chinar Berry, Ahmed Turkman, Payam Soleimani-Nouri, Ria Gaglani, Michael Jiang, Salman M Khan, Shubham Sharma, Run-Zhi Chen, Muntaha Naeem, Hector Sinzinkayo Iradukunda

Feedback from the student partners indicated that nine out of 10 of them found the summer placement to be a useful exercise for their own learning. 8 out of 10 of the student partners agreed that being involved in the question development process during this project has improved their future exam preparation. The platform was launched in January 2019 for Year 1 MBBS students and will be further refined this coming summer.

Dr Tanvi Agrawal and one of her students, Ahmed Turkman, sat down with Murray MacKay to chat about the success of their project.

What were your initial thoughts about becoming involved with StudentShapers, did you have any objectives or perhaps even misgivings?

Tanvi: "Over time I have reaped the benefits of being associated with StudentShapers, as I was given the opportunity to present at College teaching seminars and share my experiences. I've since applied for additional funding to be able to launch a second review of the MedSTEP project in the summer, and was successful in my application."

What has been the most surprising element of the project?

Tanvi: "The element which took me most by surprise would be the overwhelming response of the Studentshaper student partners – the amount of hard work, long hours and dedication they put into their work over summer is applaud-worthy!"

Do you think partnering with students in this way will result in you changing your teaching practise over time?

Tanvi: "When you work as partners with students, you get a unique insight into student opinion about different teaching methods, curriculum content and delivery. These experiences have definitely made me reflect on my teaching practise and aim to make my teaching practise as student-centered as I can."

What kind of feedback have you received from other students since Imperial MedSTEP went live?

Ahmed: "I've been told by some of first years that its a step-up from the previous self-test questions, as the questions tested your application of the knowledge rather than the recollection of the knowledge."

What amount of time did you have to commit to the project, and what do you think you gained from your involvement?

Ahmed: "I committed two weeks of work to the project. I gained an extensive understanding of how practice exam-style questions are made in order to aid students in their revision, as well as the importance of the current syllabus' influence on the self-test questions. I think it also showed me the complex process of fairly balancing the allocation of questions between easy, moderate and hard difficulties." 

What would be your best piece of advice to other students that may want to get involved in a similar StudentShapers project?

Ahmed: "My first piece of advice would be to not spend too long thinking about questions, just write down every idea/question that comes to your head per learning objective, then try cut it down or bring everything together to make questions. Also when thinking of producing 'hard' questions, it's very important to consider how fair you're being e.g. asking a question on a small piece of information within a lecture (quite unfair). versus asking a question that requires the application of the main aspects of a lecture to a certain scenario (quite fair). Lastly, for some of the harder questions, including a table or diagram can go a long way!"


Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications Division


Education, Strategy-collaboration, Students, Strategy-educational-experience, Global-challenges-Health-and-wellbeing, Strategy-student-experience
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