QBIQ: "How Will You Manage the Academic Challenge of PA School?"

“How Will You Manage the Academic Challenge of PA School?”lBe a Physician Assistant

Landing a PA school interview is a moment of pure excitement. When you get your first invitation, you’ll know that tons of hard work has finally paid off, and that PA school just got a little bit closer.


However, once you start preparing for the interview, you may begin to feel as if you'll never be fully ready for the big day.


How will you remember what you want to say once you're under pressure? Or what if they ask a question you didn't expect?


Where most prospective PA students start to psych themselves out during interview prep is when they begin to worry over every potential question they might receive.


When you find a new or unique interview question online or in an interview prep book, you might add it to the list of what to practice. As this list expands, you might feel more uncertain over your approach in the days leading up to your interview.


You may begin to wonder whether you're "doing it right." If this describes your approach, you, indeed, are not doing it right.


Interview prep should build your confidence, not shake it. You cannot prepare for every possible question. But you can go into an interview knowing what you want to talk about.


You can also tap into what a program might be looking to learn about you through a particular question by considering the QBIQ, the questions behind the interview question.

When you use the QBIQ as a guide, you can pair what a program might be looking to learn with what information you were hoping to share. Balancing these two sides can help you to create a stellar response.

So, let's get into how you can analyze another common interview question to create your best answer.

Interview question:

How will you manage the academic challenge of PA school?

Though the question is directly related to what kind of PA student you might be, it's also got some additional questions lurking in the background.



Do you feel prepared to study medicine?

Have you ever academically struggled?

Do you have study routines and habits? What are these?

Have you needed to adapt your academic approach to different circumstances in the past?

What sorts of time crunches have you faced as you’ve worked toward PA school?

You've been invited to a PA school interview because a program thinks that you have what it takes to be successful in their program.

“How Will You Manage the Academic Challenge of PA School?”lBe a Physician Assistant

In the interview, it's your job to communicate that you know you have what it takes and to demonstrate it to your interviewers so that they are equally convinced.

So, the key to understanding the questions behind this particular interview question is to consider how you'd "prove" your response.

The question is future-facing. Rather than focusing on a past decision or experience, like why you chose a program, it's asking how you'd handle something that hasn't happened yet.

For future-facing questions, you may instinctually respond by talking about what kind of student you will be. But, for your interviewers to believe your vision, you have to provide evidence that can back it up.

And that proof exists in the experiences you've already had.

So, while the interview question is asking about what kind of student you will be, the QBIQ are asking about what kind of pre-PA student you've already been.

By answering the QBIQ, you can look for opportunities to share what information you've prepared even when the question isn't one you've practiced.

This question isn't outright asking about your "sophomore slump." But, it could be your opportunity to address it and share what adaptive study skills you've gained through the experience.

"Yes, I feel I'm ready to succeed in PA school. I've always loved science, but I struggled in my biology and chemistry courses during my second year of college. Doing well academically had always come easily to me, so the challenge was a bit unexpected. But, the experience made me develop a system for studying that I didn't previously have in place. I began reaching out for help and going to office hours whenever I could. I've learned how to adapt my study habits and techniques to my coursework.

In the process, I have built a track record of success, including earning all As in my upper-level prerequisite science courses. Though it was painful at the time, the experience helped me to build skills that I wouldn't otherwise have. I understand how I learn best and will implement this approach to be a strong PA student in your program."

Through this response, you're answering the question while also proving that your future vision has a basis in reality. By incorporating the QBIQ, you're lending authenticity to your response and distinguishing it from the answers of others by making it personal to your experience.

You can mold your response to include any aspects of your background or experiences that might be relevant to the question prompt. Looking for a way to point out how you've been busting it in the past few years? You can use this window to do it.

"I had been working as a fifth-grade teacher for five years before I decided to become a PA two years ago. Since that time, I became certified as an EMT, working shifts on weekends and breaks while also taking 40 credits worth of prerequisites required for me to apply to PA school. I have continued in my full-time teaching role all along and, six months ago, I also started volunteering at my local hospital.

It's been a lot to do all at one time, but I am fully committed to my goal of becoming a PA. The process taught me how to manage my time better and how much attention and effort is required to succeed. I believe the work and academic load I have been balancing successfully in the past couple of years has prepared me to be an excellent student."

While this information can mostly be found on your application, the response isn't just about the facts — it's about the value of your experiences.

Also, I promise, there's no one out there teasing out the activities and work contained within your application to see what overlaps.

No one will appreciate that you’ve worked full-time while also taking on a separate patient care role and regularly volunteering. Laying this out for your interviewers can help them to know what you're capable of handling.

Now, it's your turn.

What part of your background would this interview question give you the opportunity to share? How can you use it to prove that you will academically succeed in PA school?

You know you have the ability to be a great PA student, and a program believes you might too.

Discovering the QBIQ will help you to see chances for you to prove a PA school right. And, while you're at it, you'll be personalizing your response to create a more authentic answer.