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IMG Residency Match Forum International Medical Graduates (IMGs) discussing the residency matching process.


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  #1  
Old 04-15-2016
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Default Advice for next match

I am an IMG and I have been stuck for a long time studying for the usmle exams and was hoping to get some advice.
I have been prepping on and off for step 1 for a long time. My first attempt on the exam was two years ago and I have not been able to retake the exam. No matter what I have tried over the years, I cannot get myself to improve my scores. I even took the step 2 CS even in between and passed it within a month on my first attempt. I feel like I have sufficient knowledge but not able to show it well on a standardized exam.
I had some ups and downs during the year, more of personal stuff that had kept me from giving this exam. A good part of it is also some anxiety I feel, since I already have an attempt on the exam. My lack of confidence also comes from not improving with my uworld scores or assessments. How can I sit for a second attempt if I am not passing practice exams? Even if I am scoring on average more than 60% on Uworld blocks, that doesn't even get me a pass on an nbme. Is there anything that finally worked for anyone who struggled similarily? One of my problems I realize is mostly lack of recalling & sometimes just not realizing the diagnosis.
I have not applied for any residency matches in the past, but I really want to apply for the upcoming one. Do you think it will be looked down upon that I waited so long for the second attempt on my step 1? I do have reasons for that, but I would also have to mention why I failed on my first attempt. What is the best way to handle that question? I don't need a visa, which might be a slight advantage when applying to programs. Also, even if I finish step 2 ck in time for the match this year, would it be enough to get interviews? I have heard that having step 3 finished helps in situations like mine. I do have some clinical exposure and part-time research experience, observerships with LOR's, but I am worried it might not be enough. I apologize for the long message. I am trying everything in my power to overcome my situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 04-16-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyhigh View Post
I am an IMG and I have been stuck for a long time studying for the usmle exams and was hoping to get some advice.
I have been prepping on and off for step 1 for a long time. My first attempt on the exam was two years ago and I have not been able to retake the exam. No matter what I have tried over the years, I cannot get myself to improve my scores. I even took the step 2 CS even in between and passed it within a month on my first attempt. I feel like I have sufficient knowledge but not able to show it well on a standardized exam.
I had some ups and downs during the year, more of personal stuff that had kept me from giving this exam. A good part of it is also some anxiety I feel, since I already have an attempt on the exam. My lack of confidence also comes from not improving with my uworld scores or assessments. How can I sit for a second attempt if I am not passing practice exams? Even if I am scoring on average more than 60% on Uworld blocks, that doesn't even get me a pass on an nbme. Is there anything that finally worked for anyone who struggled similarily? One of my problems I realize is mostly lack of recalling & sometimes just not realizing the diagnosis.
I have not applied for any residency matches in the past, but I really want to apply for the upcoming one. Do you think it will be looked down upon that I waited so long for the second attempt on my step 1? I do have reasons for that, but I would also have to mention why I failed on my first attempt. What is the best way to handle that question? I don't need a visa, which might be a slight advantage when applying to programs. Also, even if I finish step 2 ck in time for the match this year, would it be enough to get interviews? I have heard that having step 3 finished helps in situations like mine. I do have some clinical exposure and part-time research experience, observerships with LOR's, but I am worried it might not be enough. I apologize for the long message. I am trying everything in my power to overcome my situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
If I'm reading this right, you failed your first attempt at step 1. This is a huge red flag, especially for an IMG. The fact that you've taken years to prep for a retake, and you are still not close to being ready is a red flag. To put it simply, why would anyone take their chances on someone who can't prepare/pass an exam designed for 2nd year medical students when there are 10k+ more applicants than positions? I'm not saying this to be rude, or crush your dreams, but you need to be realistic.

Everything you mentioned doesn't matter (visa issue, research, explanations, excuses, clinical exposure) because you haven't even passed step 1. You need to focus on that (not just passing, but destroying it). Nothing else matters right now but this test, because without doing very well, no program is going to take you seriously as an applicant without that. Stop prepping "off and on" and get serious, otherwise this isn't going to go anywhere. You need to find 6 or so weeks that you can devote solely to prepping for step I.

UFAP: UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma is usually what people use to prep. I dunno how much step I material you will have retained after 2 years, though. These sources are good for review, not re-learning. Recently, people have been subscribing to online videos like Sketchymicro (by SketchyMedical) to learn in different ways (these came out after I took step I, otherwise I would have used them.)

You can confidence is your big issue. What happens? Do you start second guessing yourself? Change your answer? You need to develop strategies for suppressing your test anxiety, otherwise it will crush you. It happened to me on step 1, and I scored much less than I thought I would. I analyzed my test taking habits, and discovered my weaknesses, and was able to do much better on CK because of it. I would second guess myself and I had no test taking stamina (got unfocused half way through step 1).

Basically, in the last 2 weeks of my prep for CK, I would do UWorld questions like I was taking the test (full blocks, timed, random). I would not allow myself to look anything up. I would do 4 of these blocks a day (this was my 2nd pass, the first pass was all untimed tutor mode). As I took CK, I went through each block, answering every question that I was 100% sure about. If I was not 100%, I would flag it and move on, coming to that question at the end. I finished most blocks w/ 10-15 min left over, and I would have about 15 or so questions flagged per block. This way, I was 100% sure about the things I knew, and I was able to have time to work through the other ones. I took a break after each block. Every 2 blocks, I'd have a b12 vitamin and water, or a small snack.

This post is way longer than I wanted it to be; I'm sure you didn't want a novel. The summary is that you need to focus on step 1 first... because without it, nothing else matters. Again, I'm not trying to be rude, or mean spirited. If you really want to be a physician in the US, you will find a way to come here.
Good luck.
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  #3  
Old 04-17-2016
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Hey, thank you for giving me a frank and realistic reply. The more detailed the better! I know my situation has a few red flags, but I am not ready to give up. One thing, I am an IMG, but I am from here and have lived here most of my life. So, if this doesn't work out, I would have to look at other means of making a living, which would be a struggle as well. I really do feel I am a good clinician, just not a good test taker. So, I want to make sure I give this second attempt on step 1 everything I have.
I have been prepping seriously for months now. I have a study partner and I have tried different sources and methods, but except for a slight improvement, I am not seeing a huge jump in score. So, that's why it is a bit frustrating. I really need that boost in score, so I can walk in on exam day with confidence and walk out knowing I did more than a pass. If I study new concepts, I study it properly, but then I end up forgetting it over time. It's like the more I keep pushing out the exam date, I keep forgetting what I have learned. I guess I am not able to organize or balance recalling/revising, learning new material, and practicing questions. If I focus more on one aspect, I end up getting weak in another. My short term memory is really good, but it's not going to help me for such a big exam with so many subjects and topics.
As for confidence, I have something like what you described in your past experience. I end up taking longer to make a decision on questions especially if I am deciding between two choices. Ultimately, that creates some anxiety as I am running out of time towards the end of the block, and not feeling confident about the answers. Most often if I am working tutor mode on Uworld, if I get a question wrong, when I read the explanation, I know it, but picked the wrong answer, because I either didn't realize the diagnosis or just couldn't recall it well enough.
I actually really liked the method which you said worked for you in CK. I have not tried that before, but I am thinking I'll give that a try. I can at least do that during practice blocks. Like you said, it helps to know which questions you are 100 % sure about and which ones you're not. Right now, I usually go through the block one question at a time, and just put down an answer and move on. Mostly I don't have time to go back to questions in the end, since I take longer on questions in the first place. Also, you said you flagged about 15 questions. How did you approach questions that you were stuck on, unsure of, or between two answers?

Again, thanks for all your suggestions and advice. I really appreciate it!
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  #4  
Old 04-17-2016
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"I really do feel I am a good clinician, just not a good test taker."

you have to be both to be a physician in America, testing doesn't stop with your USMLEs. You've got yearly in-service exams and a board exam to contend with.
Hopefully you have a home country to practice in because if you can't get it done in 2 years, the writing is on the wall and any advice you receive on this board is not going to help you.

"One of my problems I realize is mostly lack of recalling & sometimes just not realizing the diagnosis."

This is what separates an MD from a nurse, PA, tech etc

"Do you think it will be looked down upon that I waited so long for the second attempt on my step 1?"

The time it took for a retake is not the issue at this point, the fact that you have a retake is a huge red flag, you won't be getting past any filters if/when you do apply unless you have contacts

If you passed your first time, with a just passing score, that in and of itself is a huge red flag.

"Also, even if I finish step 2 ck in time for the match this year, would it be enough to get interviews?"

At your pace you aren't going to be ready this September, I wouldn't rush anything or you are setting yourself up for failure, Step 2 will not be cake walk when you have struggled with Step 1, moreover the passing score has increased significantly in recent years

"Any advice would be greatly appreciated!"

Pass Step 1 first, then come back and ask for some sincere advice, you are looking way to far ahead, thinking about research, clinical experience, LoRs Step 3 etc.

Step 1 first and foremost



Good luck
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Last edited by kash_md; 04-17-2016 at 08:29 PM.
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  #5  
Old 04-17-2016
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Thanks for replying to my post. The reason I brought up this post here was because I saw people who submitted some amazing stories about how they matched, especially people who had similar attempts or gaps. It got me motivated and I wanted to reach out to people who were successful to see how they overcame their struggles.
As for when I say I am a good clinician, I was able to pass my CS in 3 weeks prep time on my first attempt. So, yea, I have proven that I have the skills to be a physician in the U.S. Step 1 is a whole different experience and people who are excellent MDs in their own countries who have come to the U.S and attempted Step 1 have found it tough or have even failed. This is mostly because there is a lot of basics. So, I agree, a lot of my basics and test taking approach needs more work. My only challenge and obstacle right now is getting through step 1. Out of all exams, people feel step 1 is the toughest. So, I wanted to find out what helped people in the end in boosting their score. The reason I mentioned taking CK soon after step 1 was because, I have heard from people who took CK that knowing step 1 helps study for that as well. So, whether I end up taking it before the match or not, only fate can tell. Yea, realistically, my situation has red flags, but that's mostly why I am here. My main issue is getting past this exam. So, I am seeking advice on how to go about doing that. As for my goals for matching this year, it just keeps me going. Everyone needs to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it's definitely something I am looking forward to, even if it looks kinda dark right now!
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  #6  
Old 04-17-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyhigh View Post
Thanks for replying to my post. The reason I brought up this post here was because I saw people who submitted some amazing stories about how they matched, especially people who had similar attempts or gaps. It got me motivated and I wanted to reach out to people who were successful to see how they overcame their struggles.
As for when I say I am a good clinician, I was able to pass my CS in 3 weeks prep time on my first attempt. So, yea, I have proven that I have the skills to be a physician in the U.S. Step 1 is a whole different experience and people who are excellent MDs in their own countries who have come to the U.S and attempted Step 1 have found it tough or have even failed. This is mostly because there is a lot of basics. So, I agree, a lot of my basics and test taking approach needs more work. My only challenge and obstacle right now is getting through step 1. Out of all exams, people feel step 1 is the toughest. So, I wanted to find out what helped people in the end in boosting their score. The reason I mentioned taking CK soon after step 1 was because, I have heard from people who took CK that knowing step 1 helps study for that as well. So, whether I end up taking it before the match or not, only fate can tell. Yea, realistically, my situation has red flags, but that's mostly why I am here. My main issue is getting past this exam. So, I am seeking advice on how to go about doing that. As for my goals for matching this year, it just keeps me going. Everyone needs to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it's definitely something I am looking forward to, even if it looks kinda dark right now!
CS does not prove anyone has the skills to be a physician in the United States. I finished it with 3 days of prep others do it with no prep, others do it with months of prep, but if that is what keeps you going, then more power to you.

Being a physician in the US, is not a CS exam, it's more akin to Step 1 exam, like I said, Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, 3 in service exams and a board exam. PDs want ppl who will pass their board exams and the easiest way for them to filter the 3000 - 5000 applications they receive is to not look at anyone who has an attempt.

I wouldn't get ahead of myself with step 2ck, you clearly have described anxiety issues, study issues, retention issues etc, all which will not bode well with the verbose question stems of CK, passing Step 1 with years of preparation will not translate into success with that exam which now has an average score of 240 unless you fix your underlying issues.

if you are seeking guidance on Step 1, it would be best to ask ppl on the Step 1 / or CK sections (they would have just finished) and probably more active than here

good luck
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Old 04-17-2016
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If you're having a hard time diagnosing, study mtb II CK or kaplan lecture notes CK (internal medicine). That'll help you a lot in diagnosing common cases. Good luck bud.
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  #8  
Old 04-17-2016
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Thanks for following up. I am fairly new to this forum. Although I appreciate your honesty, most of what you mentioned above is what I already know of my situation. It is quite clear that my scenario is not something you went through. Even if you aced all these exams, there is no remark on how you went about doing that. As a future note, it would be best if you respond to posts that you can truly connect with or have something positive to say.
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Old 04-17-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyhigh View Post
As a future note, it would be best if you respond to posts that you can truly connect with or have something positive to say.
as a future note, do not come to an anonymous forum seeking advice and comments if you only want positive comments or someone with whom you can connect to. There are a spectrum of users, with a spectrum of experiences, if you want the flowers and positive experiences and comments try your family and or significant other

I would hope you would want the truth or reality
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Old 04-18-2016
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No offense buddy, but what you gave me here was ONLY negative comments. I never asked anyone to give me just a flowery experience. The first post who replied wasn't flowery. It was realistic, yet, gave me some helpful pointers. Part of being on a forum is encouraging others to make it. As you mentioned, sharing "own spectrum of experiences" I didn't see any of it on here. If you're good at something, reach out and help them. Don't tell them something they already know. Unless YOU have been a successful physician in the US for many years, only comment on how you got matched, not on how my future will turn out according to you.
Thanks for the boost though. I always like coming back to prove someone wrong.
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Old 04-18-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyhigh View Post
No offense buddy, but what you gave me here was ONLY negative comments. I never asked anyone to give me just a flowery experience. The first post who replied wasn't flowery. It was realistic, yet, gave me some helpful pointers. Part of being on a forum is encouraging others to make it. As you mentioned, sharing "own spectrum of experiences" I didn't see any of it on here. If you're good at something, reach out and help them. Don't tell them something they already know. Unless YOU have been a successful physician in the US for many years, only comment on how you got matched, not on how my future will turn out according to you.
Thanks for the boost though. I always like coming back to prove someone wrong.
I directed you to the right place to seek advice on how best to prepare for the current step 1 exam and I told you to not get ahead of yourself and think about Step 2CK with a pending Step 1 exam if you call that negative then I give up.

I also told you applying this year is unrealistic ---> not negative

I also told you to work on your self described anxiety, retention and study issues because in order to be a successful physician in the USA we have to take multiple exams throughout our whole careers that are nothing like CS and more like Step 1 again not negative, but take it as you may or want

things I felt like you sincerely did not know or appreciate, you can cherry pick the advice you want, and act like the victim and take my sincere real advice as "negative" or whatever.

you've got nothing to prove to me, but you clearly have a chip on your shoulder and are great at playing the victim... I'm out of this thread... good luck!
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Last edited by kash_md; 04-18-2016 at 06:53 AM.
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  #12  
Old 04-18-2016
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I know my situation inside and out. I did not come here for a shoulder to cry on or to play victim. I only meant I would rather get pointers on HOW to overcome my weaknesses, rather than have it all listed out to me again.
I posted these specific questions from above :" Is there anything that finally worked for anyone who struggled similarily? Do you think it will be looked down upon that I waited so long for the second attempt on my step 1?"What is the best way to handle that question? So, even if I finish step 2 ck in time for the match this year, would it be enough to get interviews?
At some point after I complete the exams, even if it's not this upcoming match, I would have to deal with these red flags when applying. This was mainly to reach out to those who had similar experiences, i.e attempts on exams and gaps, especially those who did match this year, to help me out.
Realistically, like you mentioned, everything seems far away and I am thinking too far ahead, but if I don't plan now, how will I overcome the red flags when it's time? There is nothing I can do to change my past, but I can work on doing something to make myself look better when applying. My main focus is the step 1 right now. I don't see anything wrong in knowing what else people did to ace their exams finally and match successfully even with their red flags. That is why I picked this forum over step 1 forum.
You did make some realistic points, which I will surely take under consideration. Thanks for all the feedback. I really appreciate it. Good luck with all your future endeavors.
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Old 04-18-2016
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I don't think you mentioned your year of graduation. If it's within the last 5 years you'll have some some sort of a chance. That being said a good score in step 1 is of paramount importance. I'm talking 240+, preferably 250+. The sheer volume of information that needs to be retained was what I found daunting about step 1. I would make notes and study what I had just written. Writing and reading the same thing kinda made it stick better for me. In the end it's a matter of repetition. The more number of times you hammer it in, the longer it'll stick.
I feel you shouldn't apply this year. Get a good score on step 3 as well and have a 100% complete application. Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2016
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Yes, I am within 5 years from graduation for now, but cutting it close. I think that's one of my main issues when studying, not making enough time for the repetition. I have some flash cards that I have made, which helps me learn what is purely for memorizing, but unless I repeat it daily, some things don't stick long-term. I think like you suggested, I'll spend more time in a day with repetition and see if that improves my scores. Thank you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Volkmann View Post
I don't think you mentioned your year of graduation. If it's within the last 5 years you'll have some some sort of a chance. That being said a good score in step 1 is of paramount importance. I'm talking 240+, preferably 250+. The sheer volume of information that needs to be retained was what I found daunting about step 1. I would make notes and study what I had just written. Writing and reading the same thing kinda made it stick better for me. In the end it's a matter of repetition. The more number of times you hammer it in, the longer it'll stick.
I feel you shouldn't apply this year. Get a good score on step 3 as well and have a 100% complete application. Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2016
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You realistically have no shot after failing the Step 1 exam. Your performance on these exams correlates with in-service exams and ultimately passing the boards. It looks poorly upon a program to have their graduates fail the boards and could lead to accreditation issues.
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  #16  
Old 04-18-2016
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Hmm, interesting, but why do I personally know people who have failed and matched into programs? I have also seen people on this forum sharing similar stories with their recent match experience. I really don't think anyone would take time out to post a lengthy fake story about their success in a match. It really doesn't hurt to try a second time on an exam, so I am just going to take that chance...but hey, if that's what you have seen in your experience, thanks for filling me in on it.
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You realistically have no shot after failing the Step 1 exam. Your performance on these exams correlates with in-service exams and ultimately passing the boards. It looks poorly upon a program to have their graduates fail the boards and could lead to accreditation issues.
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Old 04-18-2016
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If you feel like you have a chance and the years and money lost doesn't matter, then go for it. I do appreciate your optimism. Best of luck.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyhigh View Post
Hmm, interesting, but why do I personally know people who have failed and matched into programs? I have also seen people on this forum sharing similar stories with their recent match experience. I really don't think anyone would take time out to post a lengthy fake story about their success in a match. It really doesn't hurt to try a second time on an exam, so I am just going to take that chance...but hey, if that's what you have seen in your experience, thanks for filling me in on it.
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Old 04-18-2016
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Flyhigh, while I do appreciate your optimism, I do think you need to take kash's advice seriously. He has given some great points and has been pretty realistic so if nothing else, try to look for the things where hes actually been pretty sensible about such as dealing with your issues, not taking step 2 ck and obviously focussing on step 1 more than anything.

That being said, yes you do still have a chance but realistically speaking, you need to stop studying on and off and go all in for 12 hours a day for the next 3 months - get a tutor if need be. If you took this much time after a failed attempt, you better be aiming 250+. I would suggest you rethink aiming for this years match and more aim to take the step by end of this year by any means necessary.

Good luck
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Old 04-18-2016
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I definitely agree with everyone, including kashmd on my situation. I am not denying any of it or trying to make this unrealistic for myself. Who else would be better to ask but to those of you who were successful with exams and the matching process?
Optimism is definitely not what I had when I reached out to the forum, even though it seems like that to many. I am not looking for reassurance or support, but more of some guidance towards what I can do to make myself a better candidate for the future, both in my exams and otherwise. Thanks for giving me your thoughts and advice on how to proceed. I do appreciate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeuroGirl91 View Post
Flyhigh, while I do appreciate your optimism, I do think you need to take kash's advice seriously. He has given some great points and has been pretty realistic so if nothing else, try to look for the things where hes actually been pretty sensible about such as dealing with your issues, not taking step 2 ck and obviously focussing on step 1 more than anything.

That being said, yes you do still have a chance but realistically speaking, you need to stop studying on and off and go all in for 12 hours a day for the next 3 months - get a tutor if need be. If you took this much time after a failed attempt, you better be aiming 250+. I would suggest you rethink aiming for this years match and more aim to take the step by end of this year by any means necessary.

Good luck
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Old 04-19-2016
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When I read your posts I get the feeling that you, first and foremost, need to change your mindset and attitude, when it comes to step 1.

You shouldn't look at step 1 as an obstacle, but as a test of crucial and important knowledge. If you don't recognize the concepts tested in step 1 as important you will have a hard time learning. Most peoples brains will protest over learning a massive amount of unimportant information.

There is a reason that the concepts that are tested in step 1 is taught all over the developed world. There is more to being a physician than clinical skills.

On the optimistic side, ace step 1, and you might still have a shot at matching.
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  #21  
Old 04-19-2016
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There are people that have matched with an attempt on step1, I personally know one, and I suggest that you might want to give step1 as soon as possible (test is getting harder and every year is getting more competitive) and you MUST recognize what went wrong in your first attempt, so you can fix the problem and make sure it doesnt happen again, time management? difficult recalling important details? understimate the test? not enough preparation? didnt get the grip on the question correctly?, analyze what went wrong and work on that while you prepare. If we set our mind to something we really want, we can do amazing things, and it is reflected in the many success stories in this forum. But before worrying about everything else, you need to do step1 like it was said above, it is the most important of all the steps. Good luck!
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Default Keep moving forward!

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  #23  
Old 04-23-2016
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Thank You gusvill81 for replying to my post. I had a long reply prepared for you, but since I am new to the forum, I couldn't send you a private message in the inbox. I believe I have to have posted a minimum of 15 times on the forum to be eligible for that. I will have that message to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, I just wanted to thank you ahead for reaching out to me. Your message was truly inspiring. I will be sure to take your advice. Will be in touch soon!
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Flyhigh... There is nothing wrong in being strong and optimistic..That is the only thing that pushes us all ahead.. Each person in gifted in a different way and it is sad that we have to get assessed on our abilties and skills over an MCQ exam in one day and for many people years after they are done with these subjects.. But alas that is the reality and there is no escaping it.. You should pick and choose the good useful advice some people above have given and let go of the rest.. I have seen many doctors who may be good at acing exams but who are rude inconsiderate people and bad diagnosticians in real life.. But such things are so unpredictable that its not worth gauging and also frankly none of our business.. Passing CS is an achievement,many people fail, so be glad you are done with that... Some of these same people would have told you "Oh your chances are down the drain man" if u had failed on it... So chuck all that,make a realistic plan and put in the hours every single day.. The more you drag it out the less motivated you will become... Maybe do Kaplan to rev up your basics and then do FA and Uworld like everyone says... The more you read FA the more you will retain.. And practice questions like TwoStep said... You should be able to do it... We all have memory issues and confidence problems... Maybe some people have less of such problems but that's just their luck or genes for that matter.. Make more flash cards and keep revising...That will surely help you... This is a big hurdle but remember people in all kinds of situations and who have attempts and lower scores do match... So just push ahead and get it over...Dont plan for Ck till you are done with this as that might get you tensed and slack your efforts on step 1... Take one thing at a time... To some of the people who posted earlier..There is a difference between genuine realistic advice and pulling a guy climbing out of a well further into it.. Wonder how you would deliver sad news to your patients...You must be good actors in real life is all i can think... Sorry for the long post but i felt this person was being dealt too harsh a blow than he/she deserved....
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  #25  
Old 04-24-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyhigh View Post
Hey, thank you for giving me a frank and realistic reply. The more detailed the better! I know my situation has a few red flags, but I am not ready to give up. One thing, I am an IMG, but I am from here and have lived here most of my life. So, if this doesn't work out, I would have to look at other means of making a living, which would be a struggle as well. I really do feel I am a good clinician, just not a good test taker. So, I want to make sure I give this second attempt on step 1 everything I have.

I have been prepping seriously for months now. I have a study partner and I have tried different sources and methods, but except for a slight improvement, I am not seeing a huge jump in score. So, that's why it is a bit frustrating. I really need that boost in score, so I can walk in on exam day with confidence and walk out knowing I did more than a pass. If I study new concepts, I study it properly, but then I end up forgetting it over time. It's like the more I keep pushing out the exam date, I keep forgetting what I have learned. I guess I am not able to organize or balance recalling/revising, learning new material, and practicing questions. If I focus more on one aspect, I end up getting weak in another. My short term memory is really good, but it's not going to help me for such a big exam with so many subjects and topics.

As for confidence, I have something like what you described in your past experience. I end up taking longer to make a decision on questions especially if I am deciding between two choices. Ultimately, that creates some anxiety as I am running out of time towards the end of the block, and not feeling confident about the answers. Most often if I am working tutor mode on Uworld, if I get a question wrong, when I read the explanation, I know it, but picked the wrong answer, because I either didn't realize the diagnosis or just couldn't recall it well enough.

I actually really liked the method which you said worked for you in CK. I have not tried that before, but I am thinking I'll give that a try. I can at least do that during practice blocks. Like you said, it helps to know which questions you are 100 % sure about and which ones you're not. Right now, I usually go through the block one question at a time, and just put down an answer and move on. Mostly I don't have time to go back to questions in the end, since I take longer on questions in the first place. Also, you said you flagged about 15 questions. How did you approach questions that you were stuck on, unsure of, or between two answers?

Again, thanks for all your suggestions and advice. I really appreciate it!

Ahh... I thought I responded to you, but I must have forgotten!

A few questions:

What resources are you using? If you are using too many, it becomes overwhelming and can actually hinder your progress. This was a mistake I made on step 1... I had FA, Kaplan lecture notes, pathoma, kaplan vids, UWorld, Kaplan Qbank, and USLMERxetc. Too many resources! If I could go back and re-do everything, I'd stick with first aid, uworld, and pathoma.

So the way I did Uworld questions was like this (for the tutor mode portion... not the random, untimed): I would read every explanation as I would answer the question, and immediatly look that concept up in the corresponding First Aid section. If UWorld's explanation offered extra information, I would write it directly into my FA book. This way, when I wanted to read First Aid, I would have all the extra info there. I also did this for pathoma videos... I had the FA book open to whatever Dr. Sattar was talking about, and would add in extra drawings and stuff. Yes, it's time consuming, but it helped my retention.

For the anxiety stuff, try what I suggested on a timed block of Uworld. You need to practice overcoming the anxiety, and the best way to do that is by using question banks and treating them like they were the real deal. Allow yourself to get used to the feeling of being anxious. Part of the anxiety comes from not immediately knowing if you got the answer right... and tutor mode takes away all that anxiety and that becomes a crutch. You need to get rid of tutor mode in order to get used to the anxiety and beat it. You should only change your answer if you are 100% sure that you are wrong (you misread the question or remembered something). Most of the time, you had a subconscious reason for why you were drawn to your initial answer... so stick with it!

I'll use my CK experience, b/c that went so much better than step I. I flew through each block of questions. If I knew the answer immediately, I would answer right there. If I was pretty sure that I knew an answer, I would flag it and come back after the block was done to read it further (if I was able to figure out the answer, I would unflag it). If I had no clue, I would skip it totally and come back to it only if I had time after answering my flags (If I really had no idea, I would randomly guess after eliminating a few answers). This way, I was able to maximize the points I could earn each block. I went in expecting to have about 5 or so per block that I had no clue how to answer. They can test any concept, so you should expect to be totally clueless on a few questions! I would say that I was able to answer around 60% or so on my "first pass" on CK. By the end of my "second pass (doing all the flagged ones), I would have maybe 8-10 that remained flagged (these were things that I was unsure if I had gotten right, but could not convince myself to change my answer) I honestly had about 20-30 minutes left over on each block (because I was flagging so many questions!) By the time I took CK, I had been through UWorld 2.5 times, and I was getting good at pattern recognition, so I was able to quickly read questions and get the answers.

About being between 2 answers: this happens often (most questions... at least for CK, are written so that technically there are more than one right answer... there is one that is MORE right though). For these, I would take a little more time to read the question carefully. There is always a clue in the question that makes one answer better than the other. If I still really no idea... I would flag/move on or guess.

I hope this helps.
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  #26  
Old 04-27-2016
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@mlefighter: Thanks a lot for your message. I would like to keep moving forward with optimism. I sort of expected a mixture of reactions and advice, but I am so glad it wasn't all one-sided. I have had some wonderful people reach out who have genuinely tried to help me by guiding me specifically in the right direction, which includes you. I am really grateful for that. Thank you so much once again!

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Originally Posted by mlefighter View Post
Flyhigh... There is nothing wrong in being strong and optimistic..That is the only thing that pushes us all ahead.. Each person in gifted in a different way and it is sad that we have to get assessed on our abilties and skills over an MCQ exam in one day and for many people years after they are done with these subjects.. But alas that is the reality and there is no escaping it.. You should pick and choose the good useful advice some people above have given and let go of the rest.. I have seen many doctors who may be good at acing exams but who are rude inconsiderate people and bad diagnosticians in real life.. But such things are so unpredictable that its not worth gauging and also frankly none of our business.. Passing CS is an achievement,many people fail, so be glad you are done with that... Some of these same people would have told you "Oh your chances are down the drain man" if u had failed on it... So chuck all that,make a realistic plan and put in the hours every single day.. The more you drag it out the less motivated you will become... Maybe do Kaplan to rev up your basics and then do FA and Uworld like everyone says... The more you read FA the more you will retain.. And practice questions like TwoStep said... You should be able to do it... We all have memory issues and confidence problems... Maybe some people have less of such problems but that's just their luck or genes for that matter.. Make more flash cards and keep revising...That will surely help you... This is a big hurdle but remember people in all kinds of situations and who have attempts and lower scores do match... So just push ahead and get it over...Dont plan for Ck till you are done with this as that might get you tensed and slack your efforts on step 1... Take one thing at a time... To some of the people who posted earlier..There is a difference between genuine realistic advice and pulling a guy climbing out of a well further into it.. Wonder how you would deliver sad news to your patients...You must be good actors in real life is all i can think... Sorry for the long post but i felt this person was being dealt too harsh a blow than he/she deserved....
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@Twostep: I haven't been using too many sources lately, trying to stick to the very basics, FA and UWorld. If I really need to understand something I do a video or two from DIT, Kaplan, or Pathoma. I also started out with way too many resources like you, but now just focusing on the two.

You're totally right in that I should get rid of tutor mode. In fact, I was getting too comfortable with tutor mode. After you suggested it, I have started timing all of my blocks, flagging ones that I am not 100 % sure about and just going over the set of questions afterwards. Although, I am flagging a lot, it has helped me to see more of why I am messing up. It's just so great and unbelievable that you had so much time (>20 min) left over after a block. You were quite good! I am hoping as I build up towards this approach, it will help some of the test anxiety as well. One thing it will definitely do is let me finish the block early and have enough time to focus more on the flagged ones. Thanks for sharing it. I hope this approach works soon for me too!
As for being stuck between two answers, like you mentioned, I'll have to go with my first instinct, but also be careful enough that I don't jump and pick the wrong answer.

Thanks so much for giving me a detailed approach on test-taking and studying in general. You have been so very helpful Hope you continue to help others like me. Wish you all the success in your future goals!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoStep View Post
Ahh... I thought I responded to you, but I must have forgotten!

A few questions:

What resources are you using? If you are using too many, it becomes overwhelming and can actually hinder your progress. This was a mistake I made on step 1... I had FA, Kaplan lecture notes, pathoma, kaplan vids, UWorld, Kaplan Qbank, and USLMERxetc. Too many resources! If I could go back and re-do everything, I'd stick with first aid, uworld, and pathoma.

So the way I did Uworld questions was like this (for the tutor mode portion... not the random, untimed): I would read every explanation as I would answer the question, and immediatly look that concept up in the corresponding First Aid section. If UWorld's explanation offered extra information, I would write it directly into my FA book. This way, when I wanted to read First Aid, I would have all the extra info there. I also did this for pathoma videos... I had the FA book open to whatever Dr. Sattar was talking about, and would add in extra drawings and stuff. Yes, it's time consuming, but it helped my retention.

For the anxiety stuff, try what I suggested on a timed block of Uworld. You need to practice overcoming the anxiety, and the best way to do that is by using question banks and treating them like they were the real deal. Allow yourself to get used to the feeling of being anxious. Part of the anxiety comes from not immediately knowing if you got the answer right... and tutor mode takes away all that anxiety and that becomes a crutch. You need to get rid of tutor mode in order to get used to the anxiety and beat it. You should only change your answer if you are 100% sure that you are wrong (you misread the question or remembered something). Most of the time, you had a subconscious reason for why you were drawn to your initial answer... so stick with it!

I'll use my CK experience, b/c that went so much better than step I. I flew through each block of questions. If I knew the answer immediately, I would answer right there. If I was pretty sure that I knew an answer, I would flag it and come back after the block was done to read it further (if I was able to figure out the answer, I would unflag it). If I had no clue, I would skip it totally and come back to it only if I had time after answering my flags (If I really had no idea, I would randomly guess after eliminating a few answers). This way, I was able to maximize the points I could earn each block. I went in expecting to have about 5 or so per block that I had no clue how to answer. They can test any concept, so you should expect to be totally clueless on a few questions! I would say that I was able to answer around 60% or so on my "first pass" on CK. By the end of my "second pass (doing all the flagged ones), I would have maybe 8-10 that remained flagged (these were things that I was unsure if I had gotten right, but could not convince myself to change my answer) I honestly had about 20-30 minutes left over on each block (because I was flagging so many questions!) By the time I took CK, I had been through UWorld 2.5 times, and I was getting good at pattern recognition, so I was able to quickly read questions and get the answers.

About being between 2 answers: this happens often (most questions... at least for CK, are written so that technically there are more than one right answer... there is one that is MORE right though). For these, I would take a little more time to read the question carefully. There is always a clue in the question that makes one answer better than the other. If I still really no idea... I would flag/move on or guess.

I hope this helps.
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  #28  
Old 04-30-2016
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@flyhigh

I wasn't good! I was just confident in what I knew, so I didn't waste time freaking out! There were only like 2 blocks where I had 30 minutes left, but I flagged quite a few, so most of the 30 minutes was spent going back and looking at everything I flagged!

I hope some of my suggestions help.

Thanks for your best wishes! I'll need them for intern year next year.

Good luck!
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