I'm an SGU student and I just got my passing grade for Step 1 (as did my husband who is also an SGU student). I seriously never thought this day would come and I still wake up sometimes freaking out over the exam and have to remind myself that it's over.
That being said, I read a lot on VMD and to return the favour, I do have some advice that I'd like to pass on.
First of all, I think SGU does an excellent job preparing us for the boards (for those of you out there who are still considering schools). Second, I took Falcon and to be honest, were I to do it again, I'd just study on my own. Falcon has a method that they basically force you to try and as a naive person, I went ahead and did it, and I feel as though it hurt me more than it helped me. That's my personal opinion and in no means meant to insult anybody. I also feel as though Falcon was not nearly detailed enough for Step 1. I only studied their books , because, well, they told me to, (so no FA, no BRS - just Falcon books, UW, NBME, Qbank and my previous SGU knowledge). And it wasn't enough. In my opinion, Falcon gives you the tools to get a 185. If you want more, study FA or something more.
Second, if I can do it, anybody can. I am the world's worst test taker. I get very nervous during exams and I can psyche myself out of most anything. I can make myself believe something that I know to be false (on an exam) and I can reason my way into any answer because I'm not thinking straight.
Third, it's not a "hard" exam. It's just silly (read: ridiculous). I don't think it qualifies as a hard exam when you haven't heard of the tested material. They don't test your knowledge, they just want to make you feel like you failed. And they succeed! It's not until you have the paper in front of you that you believe that you didn't fail. I was personally freaking out during the exam. But that's me.
Also, please dont' believe anything you read on these posts. Every exam is so different. My husband and I wrote at the exact same time, at the exact same test center and we had completely different exams. He had tons of long stemmed questions and I had lots of little one-liners. We didn't have a single question that was the same. It's just a crapshoot and NOBODY can tell you what will be on your exam (I promise). I can't tell you how many times I read VMD posts and somebody said, "Know this!" and I was like, "Omigod, what IS that?!" , so I'd panic a few days before the exam, go look that up and it was never a question for me. For instance, I could freak you out right now and tell you I had a question asking me what a 16S ribosomal subunit was used for (in terms of classification).
I have no idea what a 16S RU is. I refuse to look it up at this point because I'm still so angry at that question. I hope it was a "survey question". But don't go looking it up because I guarantee you it wont' be on your exam. Just dont' waste your time with things like that. Choose some books, study your butt off, do a zillion questions and give it your all.
Oh, also, I never got stellar scores on the NBME's. Heck, I even failed the second one. But after reading this forum, I thought I'd be screwed because of that. I was fine. I did better on the Step 1 than the NBME's ( I don't think they are similar at all !!). I don't want to mention my score on here because my entire school reads this forum, but both my husband and I did well (and this was our first try).
But really, if I can pass on ANY knowledge , it's not to listen to other people. Just know that nobody will have had your exam and you will have one nobody else has had. Even Falcon told us about a thousand times, "This is a board question. Know this!" and let me tell you, I was really angry during the exam at them. I just felt as though they weren't quite honest with me and if they'd just told me from the start "Know as much as you can know and don't count on anything being on it" , then I'd of been better prepared.
Feel free to ask me any questions. Hope this helps some of you. Best of luck!