Call to Open Up the USMLE Exam - USMLE Forums
USMLE Forums Logo
USMLE Forums         Your Reliable USMLE Online Community     Members     Posts
Home
USMLE Articles
USMLE News
USMLE Polls
USMLE Books
USMLE Apps
Go Back   USMLE Forums > USMLE Articles

USMLE Articles USMLE Articles, Guides, Opinions, Crazy thoughts, and How To's. It's like a USMLE Magazine.


Reply
 
Article Tools Search this Article Display Modes
 
Old
Call to Open Up the USMLE Exam
by Hokolesqua 01-19-2011, 09:18 AM

I know that may sounds like a crazy idea but let's think about it for a while.

Suppose that you get your exam results and it shows you exactly what you answered correct and wrong, question by question. Isn't that going to be a great teaching experience for us!

Why not the NMBE and the FSMB and other regulators disclose previous USMLE exam questions and make them available for all students to learn and reflect on.

Isn't that going to be the best learning system for medical students at all times!

If I know why I got that question wrong I will never forget that factoid and I will rectify myself and correct my knowledge and this will definitely translate into better physician efficiency which in turn means better health care. Isn't the USMLE exam goal is to prepare better physicians for the future!

Why do they leave us wondering what happened in the exam? Even high scorers (those with 99 or 230+ score) do not actually know how did they ace the exam!

I remember when I was in second year med school, we had an anatomy teacher who used to give us back the exam papers and explaining for us our mistakes and errors one by one and that was a great interactive teaching experience.

I imagine if the USMLE exams were to open up, it will not only serve the medical students community to learn and develop but it can even act as a huge database of medical literature and it can even be cited by journal articles. Wouldn't that be great!

OK, somebody may say that's not possible because then they have to make Millions of questions because otherwise people will just study previous exam experiences and go pass the exam as the questions will ultimately be repeated.

Well, I have a solution for that.

They can make the exam available on certain dates of the year, like for example 10 dates each year. In other words, we group the candidates into larger batches instead of the way they are now scattered in Prometric Centers. This will ensure that all students get the same 300 or so questions on that day and then make another 300 questions for the next available date in the year.

I know that may needs a lot of efforts and drastic changes but look at the bright side of it. Every student will get to know exactly why he/she failed or did not get high score and get to reflect on that. Medical school teachers will then understand the exam up close (instead of speculation currently) and therefore they will better teach their students and get them ready for the exam (which means ready for real life clinical practice).

Technically speaking, it might be difficult to show you the results on a paper if they were to include videos and audios, but what about the Internet? they can report the results online and let it be open for everyone, let it be there for students to study, indulge in, reflect on, and get ready for their future careers.

Transparency is required when it comes about judging someone life. The USMLE exam will judge you and will have remote consequences for the rest of a physicians life time career. How come it's bound to secrecy! This is just like giving a life time sentence to a person without telling him how he got it
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Views 12904 Comments 15

Total Comments 15

Comments

 
Old 01-20-2011
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 1
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
I agree with you

this is a great idea
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-20-2011
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 3
Threads: 0
that never gona happen ~~
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-20-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 590
Threads: 31
Reputation: 1251
Why I would keep it secret

In one way it would be a great teaching tool (although that USMLE is meant as a purely diagnostic tool, so your change would mean a great outlay of money and resources to fulfill a whole new mission). However, in some ways it would diminish learning: we would spend all our time studying past USMLEs, trying to always focus our efforts more and more precisely on that exam.

Do you want it to open up for the purposes of having a new and more accurate qbank?
The way it stands now, the exam takes a sample of the lake of knowledge that we possess. The more knowledge we have about where in our lake they are taking the sample from, the more sample bias we introduce by concentrating our attention in those areas - and therefore the exam becomes less and less powerful as a diagnostic tool. There are several qbanks out there, and they seem to approximate the breadth and depth of USMLE questions pretty well. It seems like a bad idea to sacrifice the diagnostic power of the single gateway exam solely in order to provide us with another studying resource.

Do you want it to open up because you can't stand the thought of not knowing what you got wrong and what you got right? I can sympathise - we are all fairly compulsive people here; but not knowing? That's life! You are going to treat patients and never see them again. You will not always know if you have saved their lives with the optimal treatment or condemned them to death because you made the wrong decision. We learn where we can learn (and I agree that learning from our mistakes is the most effective way), but sometimes we have to accept that we do our best and don't necessarily see what happens afterward.

Mostly, I believe that it is to our advantage that they maintain such secrecy - it enables them to reuse their best questions and keep the focus of the exam in the areas they think are important. This means that the qbanks and review resources that we use can enjoy the continuity of the test to refine their accuracy - they are not shooting at a moving target. If NBME had to keep coming up with new questions, you can bet that there would eventually be a lot of those oddball left-field questions, or badly-written questions, or questions about clinically irrelevant details. As it is now, we can have a pretty good idea of what is "high-yield", and this advantage should not be underestimated...

Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 01-20-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 262
Threads: 6
Reputation: 380
Disagree with MondoShawan

@ Mondoshawan,

In my imaginary idea, the USMLE will not lose its diagnostic power nor it needs to lose focus on the High Yield Topics.

Notice that I said, they should lower the number of days the exam is given. If they give it on 10 days a year, that's only 3000-3500 questions per year! The USMLE pool currently is way way more than that.

In fact, they will be focusing more on the high yield important topics than they do right now. Because it's only a limited number of questions and you don't need to go left and right.

In the setting I proposed above, If you know what your friend got in his exam, that won't help you because you'll get a different set of 300 questions in your exam, you won't get the same questions.

In fact in my theory above, there will be less people craving for what questions previous takers have seen, because this time they know for sure that the questions are never going to be repeated. While currently everybody is trying to see what others have got questions because they know many of them are repeated. Actually, this the sole reason the NBME and FSMB want to keep the secrecy, they are too lazy and they want to repeat questions
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-04-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS+3
Posts: 752
Threads: 124
Reputation: 630
Well, I don't agree with you.

The goal of any exam is to assess those taking it. It's not there to educate, as education should have been provided throughout the years or months prior.

The USMLE is taken throughout the world. Releasing the questions would threaten the neutrality and reliability of the scoring system.

In the score report, you get to see how you did in each subject and subsubject, so you're not left totally blinded as to how you scored that number. For example, although I scored 99/241, my performance in Musculoskeletal, Skin, and Connective Tissue was around the borderline, so I know why I haven't scored higher, and I can go back to read more on those. Other subjects like neurology and cardiology, my performance exceeded the scale, so I know I'm good at these.

I'm an IMG and I think it's the fairest exam I've ever taken. It has evaluated me fairly when all exams in my med school could not. My scores in med school were average, by the way. I even failed in my 3rd year (corresponds to the 2nd year in the US med system).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-04-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 262
Threads: 6
Reputation: 380
Disagree with Haisook

@ Haisook,

The neutrality and reliability of the USMLE is being threatened right now. You were able to score high in it because your read Kaplan and UW or any other prep courses. Those prep course have asked students what questions they got in the exam and so then they knew what questions come in the exam and so then they taught you what high yield topics to read and so then you got your high score.

In the model I suggested above, questions are not going to be repeated and therefore this will give strong reliability and validity to the exam.

Right now, the questions are repeated (because they are thinking that nobody knows the questions as it's closed exam so they are happy to repeat it) and so students like you and me are looking for previous exam takers and prep courses and NBME and bla bla bla, because the questions are being repeated. While in the model I suggested above, it's not repeated. New questions every time with each new USMLE exam session.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-04-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 262
Threads: 6
Reputation: 380
Another advantage

Many members are shocked by their scores and they don't believe what they got see this Step 1 score report error?

If the exam was open, such students wouldn't have to puzzle around, they would have seen the mistakes they made one by one and no dispute or speculations or skeptical thoughts were ever necessary.

By the way, opening the exam gives us transparency and so then those Governors (NBME & FSMB) can then be asked and assessed and people can sue them when they make mistakes, while now, we are completely blinded
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-05-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS+3
Posts: 752
Threads: 124
Reputation: 630
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hokolesqua View Post
@ Haisook,

The neutrality and reliability of the USMLE is being threatened right now. You were able to score high in it because your read Kaplan and UW or any other prep courses. Those prep course have asked students what questions they got in the exam and so then they knew what questions come in the exam and so then they taught you what high yield topics to read and so then you got your high score.
If this is true, every single person taking the USMLE would score a 99, but that doesn't happen. The exam is tough even you prepared well with lots of qbanks. There are many questions (I'd say 50%) that do require reasoning and high IQ, not just knowledge or memorization.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-02-2011
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 4
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hokolesqua View Post
I know that may sounds like a crazy idea .... telling him how he got it
Kudos to you Doctor.
I will strongly support your views. Thanks for being a leader/thinker
-ganalaks
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-02-2011
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 4
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mondoshawan View Post
In one way it would be a great teaching tool (although that USMLE is meant as a purely diagnostic tool, so your change would mean a great outlay of money and resources to fulfill a whole new mission). However, in some ways it would diminish learning: we would spend all our time studying past USMLEs, trying to always focus our efforts more and more precisely on that exam.

Do you want it to open up for the purposes of having a new and more accurate qbank?
The way it stands now, the exam takes a sample of the lake of knowledge that we possess. The more knowledge we have about where in our lake they are taking the sample from, the more sample bias we introduce by concentrating our attention in those areas - and therefore the exam becomes less and less powerful as a diagnostic tool. There are several qbanks out there, and they seem to approximate the breadth and depth of USMLE questions pretty well. It seems like a bad idea to sacrifice the diagnostic power of the single gateway exam solely in order to provide us with another studying resource.

Do you want it to open up because you can't stand the thought of not knowing what you got wrong and what you got right? I can sympathise - we are all fairly compulsive people here; but not knowing? That's life! You are going to treat patients and never see them again. You will not always know if you have saved their lives with the optimal treatment or condemned them to death because you made the wrong decision. We learn where we can learn (and I agree that learning from our mistakes is the most effective way), but sometimes we have to accept that we do our best and don't necessarily see what happens afterward.

Mostly, I believe that it is to our advantage that they maintain such secrecy - it enables them to reuse their best questions and keep the focus of the exam in the areas they think are important. This means that the qbanks and review resources that we use can enjoy the continuity of the test to refine their accuracy - they are not shooting at a moving target. If NBME had to keep coming up with new questions, you can bet that there would eventually be a lot of those oddball left-field questions, or badly-written questions, or questions about clinically irrelevant details. As it is now, we can have a pretty good idea of what is "high-yield", and this advantage should not be underestimated...

No I disagree with you.
If I pay money to them to evaluate my knowledge, I should have the right to know where and how I did mistake if any.
It is not fair to tell me simply how much my score I got.
I must have the right to know how I reached that score.
I must have the right to know how USMLE evaluate me, where I was right and where I was wrong

It may not happen tomorrow. Hay, no one expected Mubarak to fall from power house. No one expected a minority member will become American President.
If we all voice together, it might happen for our future doctors.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-09-2011
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 4
Threads: 0
Reputation: 11
I think it is realy good idea

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganalaks View Post
No I disagree with you.
If I pay money to them to evaluate my knowledge, I should have the right to know where and how I did mistake if any.
It is not fair to tell me simply how much my score I got.
I must have the right to know how I reached that score.
I must have the right to know how USMLE evaluate me, where I was right and where I was wrong

It may not happen tomorrow. Hay, no one expected Mubarak to fall from power house. No one expected a minority member will become American President.
If we all voice together, it might happen for our future doctors.
thank u doctor i agree with u but i think it is very hard to be applied
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-15-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 2
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haisook View Post
The goal of any exam is to assess those taking it. It's not there to educate, as education should have been provided throughout the years or months prior.

The USMLE is taken throughout the world. Releasing the questions would threaten the neutrality and reliability of the scoring system.

In the score report, you get to see how you did in each subject and subsubject, so you're not left totally blinded as to how you scored that number. For example, although I scored 99/241, my performance in Musculoskeletal, Skin, and Connective Tissue was around the borderline, so I know why I haven't scored higher, and I can go back to read more on those. Other subjects like neurology and cardiology, my performance exceeded the scale, so I know I'm good at these.

I'm an IMG and I think it's the fairest exam I've ever taken. It has evaluated me fairly when all exams in my med school could not. My scores in med school were average, by the way. I even failed in my 3rd year (corresponds to the 2nd year in the US med system).
amen..it's not the easiest of exams but from my humble experience, it is a FAIR exam & a good gauge of one's training & medical education.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-08-2011
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 1
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
That is a good idea, I agree with you.but for someone who can't read by English, and then how can they do?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-13-2012
 
Steps History: 1 + CK
Posts: 36
Threads: 10
Reputation: 12
thanx alot
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message



 
Old 08-25-2016
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 15
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
thanks alot
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message



Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the USMLE Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:
Medical School
Choose "---" if you don't want to tell. AMG for US & Canadian medical schools. IMG for all other medical schools.
USMLE Steps History
What steps finished! Example: 1+CK+CS+3 = Passed Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS, and Step 3.

Choose "---" if you don't want to tell.

Favorite USMLE Books
What USMLE books you really think are useful. Leave blank if you don't want to tell.
Location
Where you live. Leave blank if you don't want to tell.

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Article Tools Search this Article
Search this Article:

Advanced Search
Display Modes


RSS Feed
Find Us on Facebook
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

USMLE® & other trade marks belong to their respective owners, read full disclaimer
USMLE Forums created under Creative Commons 3.0 License. (2009-2014)