Posted tagged ‘USMLE’

Things of Epic Importance

July 31, 2011

Never let it be said that I don’t keep my promises. I vowed in January to update once per month (and twice per rotation) and by God, I’ll stick to it! Well, last month’s updates didn’t really touch upon how awesome my MFM elective at Maimonides was (I’ll get to that) and at this point, I’m 2/3rds of the way through my peds core but the awesome stories will have to wait because on August 17th, I will be taking an exam of epic importance – the USMLE Step 2 CK. It’s taken me a while to really get into extreme study mode but as the fateful date approaches, I am getting more nervous diligent and trying to really study until my eyes bleed. The other epic thing on the horizon is the NRMP which goes live on September 1st – I’ve been trying to get my things together on ERAS but I’ve still got a lot of work to do. Hopefully once the CK is done, I’ll be able to take some time and really check in. Until then, please enjoy this fun game and this cautionary tale. And wish me luck – this is serious business from here on in.

Evidence-Based Test Prep

April 21, 2011

Since considering the pros and cons of trying to match in 2012, I’ve begun to freak out a bit about one of the factors over which I do have some power, namely, Step 2 CK. In order to maximize my chances at success, I have to pretty much annihilate CK and score a 99 (or whatever the three-digit equivalent of that is, say somewhere around 250?). The question is then, what do I need to do to get that 99? Which books do I need to read, how many times do I need to go through USMLEWorld, what should I avoid, etc. I know there’s no exact formula (e.g., Kaplan Live Course + UW + First Aid CK = 99 :?) but there’s got to be some consensus out there about what works when it comes to test prep and what doesn’t, right? (more…)

Decision 2012

April 13, 2011

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I recently had a stroke of good luck with the clinical department. After getting a head’s up from a fellow 7th semester that her number had finally come up in the mysterious calculus by which they decide these things, I decided to give them a call and see if maybe I might be able to beg for my last two cores to be put on my schedule. Since I’d been unsuccessful in this endeavor twice before, I didn’t have much hope for this third try but I guess I got an extra blessing that day because not only did they schedule me for surgery in August (I’d have sworn they were going to say that there was no availability until next year) but they also gave me psych at a hospital of my choosing (however, that one will be next year, at the end of January). I almost thought they were going to yell ‘psych!’ at the end of the call but when I checked online, my schedule had indeed been updated. With this unexpected boon, a previously blocked pathway within the realm of possibility began to clear – the road to the 2012 Match. (more…)

A Medical Student’s Favorite Word [UPDATE]

January 4, 2011

Aaaand it’s free again! Hurry up and get to iBooks and download it before it’s gone. I’ll post info about more free eBooks (not just for iPhones soon.

There are few things that can bring a smile to the face of any medical student. Perhaps praise from an attending or a cancelled lecture might instantly inspire delight but in my experience, there’s one word that always does the trick:


Med students love free food. We crave free time. We are secretly thrilled by free reign. And if you’re a med student who is equipped with a fancy pocket essential known as the iPhone, I can practically guarantee you’ll turn cartwheels when you follow the following instructions:

1. Go to the app store and download iBooks

2. Go to Store and Search for Kaplan Medical USMLE Step 2 CK Qbook

3. Download.

Surprise! It’s free.


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…)

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!)