Posted tagged ‘The COMP’

God Does It Again

May 20, 2010

(or, How I Finally Passed the COMP)

I had prepared myself for the worst. I had contingency plans B, C and D. I’d reached the very bottom of the pit of despair and actually had a meltdown in my bathroom, overcome with the fear of failing. But apparently, some diligent preparation and fervent prayer allowed me to succeed last Friday.

Here’s a summary of me sharing the good news with my parents:

Me: Hi Mommy! Guess what, I passed my test!

Mommy: Yeaaaaaaa!

Me: Hi Dadeeeee! Guess what, I passed the test!

Dadeeeee: You better have!

Me: … (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.

One Step Back

April 26, 2010

Still toiling away, gripped by fear as my test date approaches. I took another NBME Self Assessment this weekend and unfortunately, I seem to have gotten dumber since the last practice exam, scoring a 194, which is just barely a pass – I’m talking skin-of-the-teeth. Needless to say, it was very discouraging, so much so that I decided I’d rather clean the basement than deal with any more review on Saturday. However, I created a new intensive study schedule and looked at the historical data (which one can see if one has taken two or more NBME self assessments) so that I could focus this week’s efforts on the weak spots. The good news is that I’ve improved in physio, pharm and micro; and am doing much better with renal and nervous systems-based questions. The bad news is that I’ve been getting steadily worse at reproductive and endocrine system questions, gross anatomy and embryo and I pretty much suck at cardio. それから、this week will be heavy on those areas. I also need to improve in the nebulous category of General Principles of Health & Disease* so I’ll try to focus on that as well.

There is a question I remember from the practice exam that sort of makes me question whether I’m really getting my money’s worth for these tests (more…)

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…

Setbacks

January 25, 2010

It’s day 22 of Falcon and I spent it having an inordinate amount of fun in the first part of the biochem (of all things!) module, which for a few hours allowed me to forget the miserable weekend I had and the devastating news I received. Remember I mentioned the indignity of having to take the COMP again? Well, I took it and sadly, it did not go well. We received our scores (belatedly) on Saturday morning and I was heartbroken to discover that I’d failed yet again – this time by one condemnable point.

To say I was anguished is really an understatement. (more…)