Posted tagged ‘Step 1’

How to Survive Med School

June 10, 2012

During my final rotation, I had an awesome attending who would introduce me to his patients and proudly inform them that I was about to “walk the line.” On Friday June 8th, I walked it, and even though my diploma is dated April 30th, I don’t think I really felt like I’d made it through med school until that ceremony. It was often fun and fascinating but med school was never easy. If anyone were to ask me what my advice would be to the students just donning their waist-length white coats, I’d tell them these three things: (more…)


August 18, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have passed Step 1!

I’d like to thank God, my parents and USMLEWorld ::sniff sniff:: (more…)

Brains in a Bottle

August 11, 2010

The waiting is the hardest part. Apparently, ECFMG sends out scores on Wednesdays, and, as it has only been two Wednesdays since that gargantuan exam, I guess they haven’t gotten around to scoring mine yet. On one hand, I’m extremely eager to receive my results so I can set the balls in motion for scheduling my cores, especially since surgery cores are few and far between. Once my schedule is finally set, I can have some sort of idea of what the next 48 weeks are going to look like for me. On the other hand, even though my feeling after the exam wasn’t one of dread, I have these little panicked moments during which the terrible thought of failure seeps in and saturates my mind. What if I failed? What if my passing score is so pitiful that it’s almost as if I failed anyway? It’s tough to banish those thoughts sometimes. However, for now, I will enjoy the relative freedom of being in limbo and try to patiently wait for that email to come.

In the meantime, I figured I’d post a little review of all the energy drinks I consumed while in hardcore study isolation. I’m not really a big fan of caffeine (too much of it makes me ill) but desperate times call for desperate measures. Back on the island when exam time rolled around, I’d stock up on Rumba, my energy drink of choice. Although I was unable to find Rumba stateside, I discovered a whole new realm of beverages promising to keep me alert, clear my mind, enhance my focus and all manner of impressive-sounding claims. Whether any of them actually delivered on those promises, well… (more…)

One Step Forward

July 27, 2010

On the morning of the examination, my brother said possibly the sweetest thing ever to me. As I checked my purse with shaking hands to make sure that I had my passport and my scheduling permit, he yelled down the stairs, “Don’t worry, Crys. You’re going to get enough for dermatology*!” (more…)

Step Up (the reprise)

July 12, 2010

The fateful day approaches.

On July 25th (yup, a Sunday), I will finally be sitting for Step 1 of the USMLE. I am currently in study isolation and let me tell, you, the eyes are really bleeding. This is the final stretch, the last attempt to prepare myself for one of the most important examinations of my career. Wish me luck!

p.s. if anyone knows of any resources that have free full-length exams, please let me know!

p.p.s. seriously, this is my theme song.

Exam Stamina

June 22, 2010

It’s been a while since I updated, and while I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been feverishly and diligently preparing for the REAL battle, the USMLE Step 1, really, I’ve been indulging in non-school distractions (my birthday, fluff fiction, my cousin’s new baby, etc.). I did do the administrative stuff – complete my application for the ECFMG, drive down to NJ to personally drop off my Form 186 at Ross headquarters – so now, I’m awaiting the acceptance of my application and the go-ahead to schedule my exam date. It will likely be the third Friday in July.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only just gotten back into hardcore study mode (because I am hard-headed and don’t learn my lessons) and am now facing a peculiar problem – mid-block grogginess. Recently, I’ve been getting up at 7 am and sitting down to do questions at 8 (in an effort to simulate the actual exam experience) but by the middle of my second question block, my eyelids are heavy and I’m practically swaying in my seat. My performance suffers from these little zone-outs. If I can’t get through 3 blocks of questions without nodding off, how on Earth will I make it through an 8 hour exam?? (more…)

Final Distance

May 10, 2010

It’s almost the day of destiny and although I’ve scored 198 on my last two NBME practice exams, I am not without anxiety. I suppose I should feel somewhat comforted that even my lowest NBME self assessment score is enough to pass the COMP but I’d feel even better if I weren’t skating on the underside of 200. Oh well. For this trial, all I need is to pass. Given the time it takes for ECFMG processing of the application to sit for Step 1, I’ll have a pretty nice chunk of time to bring my score up by 20 points (let’s hope) so I can have something nice to show to the residency admissions committees.

Thanks to everyone who’s been wishing me well, praying, encouraging and otherwise supporting me during this preparation. Let’s hope the third time’s a charm and that my next post will be one of triumph and jubilation. Wish me luck on Friday. I’ll check back in on the other side of the COMP.

Progress Report

April 12, 2010

Slowly but surely, I’ve been making strides to rock the COMP and it would seem that my efforts have not been without fruit. Today I took a USMLEworld Self-Assessment Sim Exam and, despite my utter befuddlement with some of the questions, I managed to score a 206. Now, a 206 isn’t a 220 but it’s not that far and it’s definitely not failing. Granted, the score report came with a disclaimer that the UW assessment tests aren’t actually meant to be indicative of one’s Step score* (why then, are they created so similarly?) but I’ve taken two prior assessments on USMLEworld and have been able to see a pattern of improvement. In short, so far, so good.

Admittedly, I haven’t been as focused as I should be these past few weeks but today, I crafted a hardcore study schedule to better structure my efforts and maximize my productivity. Ideally, I’ll be getting in 8-10 hours of quality study time each weekday and using the weekends to hone my skills with targeted subject review (or make up any time I missed during the week). If I stick to the schedule, perhaps I’ll be able to increase my score by a score (or more?) of points by May 14th. The clock is ticking, so wish me luck!

*According to the fine print (or, actually, the small font), the self-assessments are meant to identify a student’s areas of strength and weakness for targeted review with practice questions from the question bank. My biggest weaknesses are physiology and pharmacology (2 of the 3 Ps! Thank goodness I’m decent in path!)

Tough Decisions

March 1, 2010

So, it is March 1st, the deadline for deciding to take the COMP in two weeks or defer until May. It should have been an easy choice to make. Since returning from Dallas, I’ve been studying fairly diligently, but although I was passing the practice tests, I haven’t been consistently scoring 70 or above so…May it is.

That’s a sensible decision, right? In May, I’ll be certain that I’m prepared enough so I won’t have to worry about failing out of med school. As my father said, it’s better to be safe than sorry. But…I feel miserable. All of my friends are moving on without me. I’ll be lucky to take the Step before my birthday, let alone begin rotations. It’s as if I’ve repeated 5th semester – I’ll be months behind everyone else and more likely than not, I won’t make the 2012 match.

Someone tell me I’ve made the right choice, that I’m not a failure, or worthless, or just unalterably stupid. I emailed the head of clinicals to find out if I’d be able to start rotations prior to September if I sat for the May COMP and he said that it was feasible (maybe I should have asked if it was likely). I guess we’ll see. Maybe there’s some reason that things are playing out this way. Guess I’ll see about that too…

Falcon の Finale

February 23, 2010

Having completed the 7 week USMLE Boot Camp in Dallas, I have returned to my hometown to continue the campaign against failure. I arrived back home on Friday evening and on Sunday, took a diagnostic test to see how much I’d learned during the course of the retreat. I was pleased to discover that my score has improved (although I’m still not at the 220 I’d like to get on the Step) but there still remains work to be done. The early date for my final attempt at the COMP is March 16th and I have to indicate whether I’d like to sit for the exam on that date or defer it until May on Monday, March 1st. I decided that I’d use this week to blaze questions and practice tests and if, on the practice NBME exams I plan to take on Saturday and Sunday, my score is 70 or higher, I’ll commit to the March date.

The awesome thing about the Falcon Retreat is that the environment made it so easy to stay focused. I’ve barely been home a week and already I have had a flurry of social temptation, the likes of which I rarely receive. Between birthdays and events and dinners and other invitations, it has never been harder for me to retreat to my hermetic solitude. It is extremely difficult to buckle down and reach the 192 question-a-day minimum I’ve set for myself when friends and family are close by and eager to see me after my absence.

Alas, now is the time of sacrifice and commitment. I just need to keep reminding myself of how devastated and humiliated I’d be if I failed the COMP yet again and scare myself into sticking to the study schedule. One of my aunts offered to let me stay with her family upstate and study to my heart’s content in peaceful isolation. That’s definitely something I might have to consider, especially as the test dates* approach…

For those readers considering the Falcon Retreat, I have nothing but praise for it. The lecturers are, on the whole, fantastic, and the material provided is plentiful, easy to digest, and a great mix of high yield and in depth coverage of nearly everything one needs to know for Step 1. The biochem, neurology, micro and pathology sections were terrific and I defy anyone who sits through a path lecture not to become a Goljan groupie. Yup, even this hype-disbelieving skeptic got her book autographed. In truth, I wish it’d lasted another week…

*I will not bemoan the length of time it takes to schedule one’s Step date after passing the COMP until I’ve passed it…