Hi, everyone. I set for exam a few days back. Even now I am not sure about my performance, sometimes feel ok, sometimes feel bad, and have bad dream about it.
1. About the exam
Before the exam, I with everyone else here had read many exam experiences and got benefits a lot. Like: calm, confidence, doable, basic concepts, be able to think, etc, these are really important in the exam. These are from Loser's 95, Luck, Stryke, Pattela, Lamia, Drnareddy, Passmle, and so on. Keep them in mind will help a lot.
I got up early on the test day at 6:15am, got to Dunkin Donusts around test center at 7:15am and ate my breakfast there. The most important I had done there was finishing gastrocolonic reflex; the same important thing I could do was that I was the second one arrived at center then I could ask the lady to change my place to the inner most one. They arranged my place very close to the door in the beginning. I need to say big thanks to LUCK to let me pay attention to this important issue.
I put on their earplug for everyone block to decrease the noise. I went to visit center two days before exam and knew the temperature was 80F inside. So I wore light clothes with me and also took a slipper with me. I changed my shoes when I got the center. I prepared enough food (sandwich, chocolate, banana, peanut), coffee, and other drinks according to dear LUCK's advice, but I almost carry most of them home because I only used the drink, half of the sandwich, one banana, and two chocolate bars. I didnít feel hungry. I took two tabs tylenols before sleep the night before the test and also another two in the morning, which help me very much with the sleep and by this I didn't feel any headache that day. I thought I sleep about 5 hours that night.
I skipped most of the tutorial but not the questions there. I did it and used as the chance to calm myself down to a exam state and got more familiar with the lab.
Like what Dequ told me, "take a deep breath, then start". I started the first block. I tried to read the questions carefully and tried to understand what they asked. Then I picked up a reasonable answer or tried a good guest and move on. I kept this pace through my blocks. Some questions you can say easy some are tough. As long as I could understand what they tried to ask the questions became not difficult. Many questions showed up in experimental ways and they were very long, but actually they were asking you some basic concepts. So I got crazy in reading every question seriously and tried to answer even long questions as reasonable as I could. This is my weak point and problem. I could only managed to finish my first two blocks 5 minutes earlier; My 3 and 4 blocks were hard to me and I just click all "c" on my last 3 questions (My daughter's name begins with "C"). The other 3 blocks were ok, didnít have time problem.
I would say in my test there were Pathophysiology (50%), Pharmacology (8%), Anatomy and Neuroanaotmy (8%), Embryology may be 3 to 4 questions, Histology may be 5 to 6 questions, Biochemistry and Genetics (15%), Microbiology and Immunolgy (10%), Behavior science and Statistics (8%).
I had a couple of questions with mice, they are long sometimes and not easy to figure out what they wanted to ask; again after understood the questions and figured what pieces of knowledge should use, questions became not that difficult as they looked. Even so I needed to use it to analyze what was the answer so honestly I am not sure I did them right or wrong. And they really took time.
After the exam, I agree most people's feeling: the test is doable, it mostly tests your BASIC CONCEPTS AND KNOWLEDGE.
Also I would like to add this (Stryke and Patella strengthen this before): the board really wants you can think it in a physician's way; you should be able to USE THE KNOWLEDGE TO THINK.
To do a good job on this: understand and grasp the basic concepts and then tried to do as many questions as you can to improve your ability to use the knowledge.
So it doesn't matter you are using A-rated book or Kaplan book, as long as you have grasped the concepts and rules, as long as you have trained yourself seriously, you should be fine. FA is VERY, VERY important to help you especially at the beginning and at the final time. The process of preparation is not very different from the general rule of learning: FROM THIN TO THICK, THEN GO FROM THICK TO THIN AGAIN; FOCUS AND CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY.
I also agree that the test is kind of A GAME. You never know what will happen finally. You never know what set of questions you will get. Everybody has different background, goal, and time, support. That's why you are not sure definitely you would pass or fail.
Try to enjoy the process; try to learn from every step; try to learn from success and failure; try to move on; try to see the end of hall; and focus and consistency is the key. I said to myself; I would like to also say it to you.
3. How did I prepare?
I am an Img from China. I began my preparation at August of 2002. My schoolmate suggested me began with FA. I did. I used all the first A-rated books in FA for me preparation. Later I got kaplan note also and read them. After first reading, I used only Kaplan for Biochemistry, Behavioral science, Immunology; others stuck to A-rated books I had read.
I was just a medial level student when I was in Medical school. I worked for ob/gyn after graduation. I work here in USA full-time as a medical assistant in ob/gyn department also. Mostly I am on call at night and weekend. I chose this schedule so that I can study. I have two babies (3+ and 1+. Although I didn't have enough time, I viewed the process as a lucky chance for me to study medical science again and strengthen my medical science, not only for an exam. I didn't set any goal of score at the beginning but just learned everything like "ABC" and tried to understand everything. This made my first reading very low. Even after the first reading, it seemed like I had read nothing. There was no other choice but only began my second reading. By the end of second reading I began Q book and Q bank. I did it always combined the subject and in a testing mode for q bank. My accumulated scored was only 65%.
On my desk there are pretest series and also bss. I didnít touch them yet. I decided to give one more reading and began to do the questions in these two series. I did pay attention to the score and used it as a learning tool.
6 week of my day I tried NMBE test and score 620, 74% in Kaplan cd. These made me think this was the time and should go. 3 week after the day I went to Kaplan center and did another full-length test there got 81%. I began to focus on FA and the weak area showed in these tests.
The month before the exam I mainly used FA along some high light in books. The week before exam I prepared everything I should take for the exam in the bag and went to have a look at the center. The day before the exam read some Histology, Neuroanatomy, some memorization stuff.
I just saw a post by ďTrinittyís GrandpaĒ earlier on usmle.net forum, which is very nice and somehow close. So I guess it deserves to have a look for guideline.
4. About the forum
I have been watching this and also value md forum for over a year and became an active member from July last year. At the beginning I was shocked and abstracted by all the questions, answers, and discussions because they looked amazing to me. Before using the name of ping, I used me, moveon, etc. I began to feel this was really helpful to clear, also make good and deep understand about the concepts. I worked in the hospital and understood that this kind of discussion will happen in your whole medical life even after you become a physician. When you review the books again you will remember you have ever have a discussion on this or that title. You may get excited that the concept will not so easy to leave you now.
You know we all are in different background and level of preparation. We all have different schedule and timetable. It has been not easy to find a match study partner. Here you can find study partner 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, with many and changeable partner.
Donít be shy nor be afraid to be wrong. I am actually a person with little heart; no have a lot sense of humor, poor in concepts. I realize these were really bad and need to improve. This was the major reason I went to forum.
Nobody can be right all the time. No one can be perfect without shortcoming in either knowledge or character. We are all different with each other. We are here to discuss medical science and prepare for the board test. We are here to support each other and try our best to be a good and competent physician. During the time on forum, I have seen and experience some mess, fighting, discrimination, and so on. I think as a physician, we should always try to keep open mind, try to understand the diversity. If you could not help or something you donít like or understand, some others may give help, understanding or get benefit from it. And also know that this is an open forum, there are something we could not control nor can help. In this case, we can just ignore them.
Ok, now I feel I have finished a job I should do. I would be glad if it can help someone in someway. Any questions are welcome. Wishing everyone the best of luck.