Sample exam questions

Here are some sample questions that are very similar to those on real exams (answers are at the bottom).

I hope this gives you a sense of how I write questions. All exam questions are multiple choice or matching (no short answer), and other than an EM image similar to the one below, there won’t be any images on the exam. However, I may ask you about what things look like (see question 10 below).

Also – I try to write really straightforward questions so that the exam actually tests what you know (rather than how well you can decipher my questions). So don’t overthink things and look for tricks or exceptions!

1. In general, what happens during the second phase of the embryonic period?
A. Cells proliferate and migrate
B. Internal and external structures begin to differentiate
C. Organs grow and mature
D. Organs reach their maximum size

Questions 2-5: Match each structure with the tissue from which it is derived. Each answer (A-D) should be used once, and only once.

A. Endoderm
B. Lateral plate mesoderm
C. Neural crest
D. Paraxial mesoderm

2. Bones of the head
3. Hematopoietic system
4. Lining of gastrointestinal tract
5. Muscles of the head

6. Which of the following is derived from the second pharyngeal arch?
A. Laryngeal cartilages
B. Meckel’s cartilage
C. Muscles of facial expression
D. Muscles of mastication
E. Stylopharyngeus muscle

7. Which type of intercellular junction attaches epithelial cells to the basal lamina?
A. Gap junction
B. Hemidesmosome
C. Macula adherens (spot desmosome)
D. Zonula adherens (belt desmosome)
E. Zonula occludens (tight junction)

Question 8 refers to the electron micrograph above, which shows a sarcomere in its relaxed state.

8. Which letter (and line) marks a region that contains ONLY myosin filaments?
A. A
B. B
C. C
D. D

9. On H & E staining, which type of connective tissue proper is composed of abundant ground substance, scattered cells, and some thin fibers?
A. Dense irregular connective tissue
B. Dense regular connective tissue
C. Loose areolar connective tissue
D. Loose reticular connective tissue

10. Which glial cell myelinates axons in the central nervous system?
A. Astrocyte
B. Ependymal cell
C. Microglial cell
D. Oligodendrocyte
E. Schwann cell


1. B
2. C
3. B
4. A
5. D
6. C
7. B
8. B
9. C
10. D