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  1. #1
    Anonymous is offline Unregistered Guest
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    surprised myself, got 99/244

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    I surprised myself. I got 99/244 score……… “*()^%#@!~!
    I am Armenian from Moscow. I graduated in 1993 from The Yerevan State Medical University ( www.ysmu.am ) In Russia was an ortho surg. Here I work full time as ortho techn.
    Some information and thoughts that might will be useful for others.
    Board Simulator 80-85% on each subject, didn’t do Pathology (my mistake)
    QBank 75% (1500 untimed; 600 timed) before final reviewing - 6 weeks before exam
    USMLE CD – 87% (43, 42, 45) 1 week before exam

    HOW I STUDIED
    Studied about 2 years total: during lunch time, when I had free time between cases on work, after work from 5 - to10 p.m. (in USC library) and sometimes on weekends.
    Each book I have read in detail for 3 times.
    - Pathology…….. BRS + Kaplan Notes + web path
    - Biochemistry………Lippincott
    - Microbiology…..Med Micro and Imm Jawetz &Levinson + Made ridiculous simple
    - Physiology….. BRS + Endocrinology (Kaplan Notes) + viewed many other books especially to understand respiratory and acid-base Physio
    - Pharmacology……. Lippincott + viewed Kaplan Notes
    - Embryology… HY
    - Anatomy…… HY + Netter’s and other atlases
    - Neuroanatomy……._Made ridiculous simple + High Yield
    - Behavioral…… BRS + Kaplan Notes
    - Cell Biology, Genetics…… Kaplan Notes
    - Molecular Biology…. HY + Kaplan Notes
    Because I HAVE BAD MEMORY it was very important to me TO UNDERSTAND everything, especially clinically applicable information, and find BASIC PRINCIPLES AND THEIR RELATION TO EACH OTHER.
    After second reading of each book I used to read specific chapter from First Aid and do subject test from Board Simulator (I had 80-85%).
    I took 1 month of Qbank 6 weeks before exam, just after 2 readings of all books. I finished it during 2 weeks with 75%. 1500 questions I did nontimed. It lets you instantly, while you remember question to find you knowledge “defects” and make some notes in MS Word. Moreover I found I had lowest % on Genetics and Molecular and Cell Biology. After that I decided to read additional books (Kaplan Notes)
    Timed questions will help to make you own exam taking style. First timed block I did 58% - I think because of I was in panic that I couldn’t finish it in time. Third block I did with 82%. My new “style” was marking best answer of some questions (about 6-9 per block) and reviewing them later. It allows me (I am a little bit OCD person) to MOVE to the next question, it saves me from excessive hanging on the hard questions. Unfortunately on exam I usually had no chance to go back for review, but may be it was OK, because before I noticed that right corrections were equal of wrong corrections. So MARKING for me WAS JUST TRICK to KEEP ME MOVING fast. And as sad one of my friends CORRECT YOU FIRST INTUITIVE ANSWER ONLY IF YOU HAVE STRONG THOUGHT ABOUT IT.
    Moreover I found lowest performance on Genetics and Molecular and Cell Biology. To fix it I have read additional books (Kaplan Notes).
    Therefore, with Qbank you are not only testing yourself and improving your knowledge, you also improving your performance - HOW TO USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE MORE EFFICIENTLY.
    After I did all I planed to do I decided: ENOUGH, I have to STOP REVIEWING. Time to take the test.
    ---------------------------------------------------
    4 weeks before exam I took vacation and started final reading of books. I studied every day from 8:30 to 9:30. I noticed it was easier to study whole day then 5 hours after work. SO may be if I did not work I could finish study 2 times faster. But I think there are some pluses of long study. Your KNOWLEDGE, LIKE COGNAC, BECOMES STRONGER AND BETTER FROM LONG “STORING”. I was spending 1, 5 (Behavioral) - 4 (Pharmacology) days on each book. After I read all review books I did First Aide 2001 ed. (now I found 9 mistakes in it) + USMLE CD + I read my own notes and about 500 wrong answered Qbank questions. Day before exam at morning I viewed first 2 books that I started with 4 weeks ago + my high yield notes.
    15 HOURS BEFORE EXAM I STOPPED reviewing.
    My tactic was to let brain rest!!!!! Night before exam it is not enough. You need:
    1. Unload brain at least 7 hours BEORE GO TO SLEEP. (Go to sleep in you usual time, not earlier).
    2. To do “self psychological therapy”. I used this one. I bought Snowboarding Game Cube game for my son. I enjoy it too, because probably I like winter and it makes my feel home in Moscow. From playing it I developed useful exam taking strategy. You know how snowboarder takes speed… jump from tramline and flies balancing to land far away…..I sad to myself: “You DID exam when you finished reviewing, when you closed last page, (15 hours before exam). When you jumped. Your long study - that is main part of exam, that is you main performance, and you have done it. Now you just need to keep you balance and obey you own reflexes (remember STAR WARS) during test in order to land safety in distance that was already founded in you momentum and jumping process.. It let me to MOVE STRESS FROM EXAM DAY and helped me to SLEEP GOOD AND PERFORM AS USSUALY, WITHOUT PANIC. SO YOU DO NEED DRUGS TO SLEEP. DO NOT TAKE DRUGS.
    EXAM DAY
    It was::::: 100 brake 50 brake 50 lunch 100 brake 50 end.
    For lunch do not eat something unusual to you. I do not like coffee it makes me high. I like chocolate, so I took chocolate (glucose, serotonin...blah blah blah). Most important I like it and it makes me comfortable). I ate lentils and sandwich. About drinks......I drunk small bottle of cold tea....second block after lunch I was only thinking about restroom...but may be it was because of stress..
    “Don’t bring napkins” If you take them and use inside and personal noticed that they may report it as irregular behavioral. On my exam (I paid 660 for this beautiful service) they didn’t let my to have napkin and they had nothing resembling cleaning tissue in testing room….???!! Surprise
    Answering the questions was on level of automatism. Once I understood that I have no time to review marked questions I sad let it go, what can I do, forget it. I met about 5-6 “not interesting” “too detailed” “dusty” questions, I just put my best choice and did not spend much time on them,. I think they were experimental. Many, Many questions had clinical presentation even as picture of lesions, patients. I realized that I missed to look through the color atlas of diseases.
    During lunch I was analyzing my performance (do not recall questions – useless time spending). I SAD TO MYSELF you have to be more concentrated and most important DO QUESTIONS WITH PLEASURE.
    During EXAM my main worries were about going to restroom and cleaning my nose.
    Last blocks I also was thinking about going home and playing hockey with my son.
    After I came out of testing center I got a bad headache.
    My first words about exam were: “I very liked the questions” “Most, about 60% questions were about basic principles and there were simple not tricky “Questions were FAIR and “benevolent” “If somebody can’t pass it, he studied bad or wrong” “I had to be more concentrated”
    AFTER EXAM
    I was more stress after then before it. I could not sleep more then 3-4 hours for 2 nights, I was running to the books to check my answers, I found many mistakes. Probably I loss my protection from stress. I can imagine what might happen if I didn’t have it on exam day.
    This forum helps my survived and feel better during those 3 weeks and 4 days till I got my score. THANK YOU ALL.
    Plus I did many, put of business and plans, like change car oil, go to the moves, ice-skating …..This kept my busy and away from thinking about the test.
    ADVISES

    1. YOU CAN DO IT, Even if You EMG…. and WORK FULL TIME……. EVEN IF YOU WANT A GOOD SCORE…..EVEN IF YOU ARE MOM (very hard but possible – you are not the first one, you are not the last one)……..EVEN IF YOU HAVE BAD MEMORY………. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YORSELF.
    2. Do NOT PUT YOURSELF in situation when you have to work on TWO JOBS. We live only on my salary. … one car…no big trips to restaurants and “Las Vegases”. Make FLEXIBLE, may be unusual study schedule for yourself that will suit your situation. Try to COOPERATE more with your spouse. I think it is bad to separate parents from child, especially till he is 2 year old.
    3. Knowledge of basic principles and facts guarantees you 60% and PASSing the test. I agree generally (only) with author of http://www.usmile.us/revusmle.htm (useful review and site). It is very important to understand that. I have one friend he did not pass step 1 after 2 attempts. Now I know why. When I was starting he used to tell my: Tigran they do not test simple things, every body knows them, they want to test your knowledge of details and hard to understand material. He was very wrong. All his effort he put to remember rare information that have secondary importance end tested slightly. Do not do same mistake. KNOWLEDGE OF BASIC PRINCIPLES AND THEIR APPLICATION - THIS IS THE BACKBONE OF EXAM. Of course if you want high score you need to be familiar with details, (but not too much, Qbank is a guide). CLOSEST TO REAL EXAM QUESTION’S STYLE – IT IS USMLE CD.

    4. You have to BE HONEST TO YOUR SELF. Once you set goal (just pass or ace the exam) and developed you study plan you have to follow it. If you fill you did not do something you wanted - postpone exam. Be honest to yourself. If it’s reasonable, it’s not big deal if you take your test 2 weeks or 1 month later in order to finish your review. In other hand does not delay because you think you might need to review it one time more- this is Obsessive Compulsive Behavior – waste of time).
    5. YOU DON’T NEED TO BE GENIUS TO SCORE VERY HIGH. You just need to do well & right study. Score is proportional your effort in right direction.
    6. YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR BRAIN. Let it rest. “Release” it at least 15 hours before exam in order to help it sleep later.
    7. In any situation DO NOT PANIC. Be more rational, and flexible like good businessman.
    8. STUDY AND ANSWER QUESTIONS WITH PLEASURE. You will notice you memory and performance will be better. My son asked my when he was 2, 5 years old: “Do you like airplanes? I made pause before answer, because now, after many, many flights I am afraid of flying. He notices that, and sad “if you do not like planes they will not like you too”….!!! If you do not like something you will keep forgetting it - defense mechanism. And I noticed that my best surgeries I performed while I did it with pleasure.
    9. DO NOT AFRAID OF EXAM. IT IS FAIR AND BENEVOLENT. Majority of questions about 60% test your basic knowledge which you will answer automatically like you turn left as you told to do so. You will see only few really hard or tricky questions, where you need to think very well.
    10. You CAN DO IT WELL WITHOUT GOING TO KAPLAN lectures (save your salary and 4000). It is enough to read Kaplan notes. I know another person that didn’t go to Kaplan, just read the Notes and he got 99/245. Just it’s better to use Kaplan books with written notes by someone whom you trust. And…. never go, if you decide to go, to Kaplan LECTURES BEFORE you read review books, even if Kaplan tells you… TODAY WE HAVE BIG DISCOUNTS … it will be waste of time and money. And interesting fact I know more people who went to Kaplan and didn't pass then people who just used notes + review books and passed with not bad score In General, whatever you read the most important read it deep, with understanding and thinking. It is better to read well few good books then just swallow many even very best ones.
    11. It is true, QBANK % AND EXAM SCORE CORRELATION IS VERY STRANGE, NOT MATHEMATICAL. I know two persons who did Qbank whit 72%. One scored 99 and another simple didn’t pass.

  2. #2
    Anonymous is offline Unregistered Guest
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    Congratulations buddy!!!

    Congratulations and thanks for your experience!
    Wish you all the best on your next exams!


  3. #3
    hmed is offline Junior Member
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    Help

    Tigran, congratulation. Please email I have few Q.

  4. #4
    Anonymous is offline Unregistered Guest
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    congratulations

    Good luck all the way and enjoy urself.

  5. #5
    ankit is offline Newbie 510 points
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    congratulations
    i am glad you took the effort to explain in detail about your schedule and your secret to success
    i am in my 2nd year med school in india please guide me if this is the write time or not

    anyways good luck for your future exams

  6. #6
    Cadusma's Avatar
    Cadusma is offline Moderator 513 points
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    Congratulations! Thanks for the detailed post.
    "The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease." ~Voltaire (1694-1778)

  7. #7
    tcmdoc is offline Member
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    Good on you, great job, I bet you feel great to have accomplished that...now, I have 2 years until I take the usmle...in nevis doing my med courses...however, i am going to start reading brs books here & there (even though I'm pretty busy w/ school) and ordered the goljan's notes...do you have any thoughts on those? thanks for your input.

  8. #8
    Ana Mendoza is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Thanks a lot for shearing your experience, I'm a IMG OBGYN from Mexico, single mother of two wonderfull children, working actually as a Pharmacy tech. as you can see, same situation as yours, I work hard, study a lot and sleep very little, I took the test 2 times and failed and I know is because what you just said ... I didn't study to understand the basics, I underestimate the test, now I have Kaplan and my experience tells me I am in the right path, I have no date yet to take my test because I know I'm not ready.
    What I wanted to tell you is that you make me feel a lot beter, "I am not along, I am not the only one following a dream", that means a lot to me and I thank you for that.
    Sincerelly Ana.

  9. #9
    choppermd is offline Temporarily Banned 510 points
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    Поздравления Tigran,
    Я желаю вам очень счастливое упование step2 и step3.I раздела, котор вы будете счастливыми. Вы имеете мои наилучшие пожелания. Никак я не русск, я от Индии и микстуры am studing в Мексике.
    So pardon my bad Ruski.
    You know, I had two (twin) babies just 45 days ago, me and my wife have put every thing into becoming doctors.Your post will remain in our heart and mind.We will start school in August,2006.
    I wish you the the very best for your family and proffesional life.God bless you Tigran, and thanks from the bottom of my heart for your lovely post.
    Last edited by choppermd; 04-29-2006 at 01:23 PM.

  10. #10
    dr41 is offline Junior Member 510 points
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    Thanx for sharing.

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