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The best month to take the USMLE Exam!
by StepTaker 04-13-2011, 02:12 PM

I've noticed that many of our International Medical Graduates members in the forums and also several of my friends firmly believe that taking the exam in a certain Calendar months makes significant difference compared to taking it in other months.

Their argument is based on the assumption that if you take the exam during the season when US medical students take the step 1 exam for example (late Summer) then you are likely to compete with a higher number of "good students" and you are probably going to score less! Others say that if you take the exam in California you will be compared to California takers and if you take it in Hawaii you will be compared to Hawaiian examinees!

Although the exam mechanism by which the NBME and the FSMB calculates the USMLE score is still largely unknown (as I eluded to this here), nevertheless, In my opinion, I think this is not true and it's a public myth.

Here's what I base my opinion on:

1) Who said US Medical students score higher than IMGs? If at all there is a difference then it's in the passing percentage not in the score level.
2) The USMLE official website states that the exam is standardized in a way so that the same student (with the same level of preparation and knowledge) would score the same if he/she takes the exam at different times, +/- 5 points on the three digit scale.
3) The USMLE official website did not mention that the exam is competitive. They did not say that your score is calculated in the context of other students' scores. They just set the standard and everybody is scored according to the same standard curve, not according to what other students have scored.
4) If you think that they are doing it but they are not disclosing the fact, then this means that 75% of students taking the exam in a single testing day should fail the test, while that's not the reality.
5) The reason why different three digit scores correspond to the same two digit score is not the level of achievement of others, it's the variation in difficulty of the questions across different exam sessions.
6) Exam dates and timing is not uniform. It can be taken at 8 AM Eastern Time and it can be taking at midnight ET (if the exam is conducted in Japan for example), if they were to compare students with each other, they should have at least synchronized the timing.

So bottom line, I believe that it does not matter when or where you take the exam in September or in January, in California or in Europe. It's still the same standardized scoring system and your chances are equal.

Let me know your thoughts about this
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Views 36691 Comments 28

Total Comments 28

Comments

 
Old 04-13-2011
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 343
Threads: 127
Reputation: 535
i agree with you

but point is how NBME or FSMB conduct it in that way..
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Old 04-13-2011
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 268
Threads: 14
Reputation: 113
thank you...I was planning to take it in September....
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Old 04-14-2011
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 254
Threads: 21
Reputation: 53
Yes, steptaker... I am an IMG and failed my step 1 last year. Now I have booked it for August. My friends were saying the same thing before... not to take the exam in late summer and to do it during the winter months coz I would be compared against the American grads. I never thought it would make a difference. I mean, it doesn't matter where you are in the world and when you take it. It's always a random exam and it depends on your prep.
It's good to read your post. makes me more comfortable in taking it in the summer.
thanks
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Old 05-01-2011
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 3
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
thank you

Thanks alot its good to know that
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Old 05-14-2011
 
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Thank u v.much dear for info
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Old 05-16-2011
 
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thanks! for the information!!
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Old 05-22-2011
 
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thanks for the advice
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Old 07-10-2011
 
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The best month to take usmle exam.

YES, I agree, there is no BEST MONTH or time to take usmle. It simply depends on what an examinee's output at exam.
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Old 07-13-2011
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 281
Threads: 74
Reputation: 142
I have seen that people who took the exam when the US prometric centres are busy like in May-July, Nov-Dec end up with lower scores than expected. Has anyone else noticed this pattern happening to their score when taken in these periods.
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Old 07-19-2011
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 25
Threads: 2
Reputation: 46
standard exam

I have taken my step 1 in Late June this year and i scored 99, I agree with steptaker and the the clue for that is your NBME score, the idea that your NBME score is reflective of your real score means than the exam is standardized and whenever you take the exam you will get almost the same score +/- few digits.
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Old 11-10-2011
 
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thanks awful for your message.
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Old 01-01-2012
 
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Posts: 12
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Thank you so much!
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Old 01-06-2012
 
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Posts: 38
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thanx for these valuable information...
and yes i think that i know many student thats has been taken the exam in Egypt and Dubai and there score was high 99. 98 yes
so am agree with u ...
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Old 02-08-2012
 
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Posts: 590
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Thank you!
Although I am taking it in april-june time period.. Now this makes me feel better...
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Old 04-23-2012
 
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Does Giving test at different center increase your percentile level?
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Old 04-23-2012
 
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No!! I too had the same dillema when i was scoring low on my Nbmes so thought of taking my exam in US as im a IMG, but my seniors who aced the exam said it never made any difference.
Goodluck anyways!
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Old 06-11-2012
 
Steps History: 1 + CK
Posts: 36
Threads: 10
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by INCOGNITO View Post
i agree with you

but point is how NBME or FSMB conduct it in that way..

absolutely rite
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Old 06-12-2012
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 14
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
thanks for the advice just focus on your nbmes timing doesnt matter
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Old 01-09-2014
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 118
Threads: 16
Reputation: 64
step 2 CS difference???

Hi,

I am planning to take step 2 CS in April and wondering is there any difference in test centers around USA. Preliminary I have registered in Philadelphia for April 14 but head from my friend that it is the busiest center in the USA and standardized patients are more tired and annoyed, which eventually may lead to lower chance to pass the exam. If you heard anything about it or if you took step 2CS in different centers, could you please share the opinion?

Thank you in advance for consideration and help,

Sincerely,

Jacob
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Old 01-09-2014
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS+3
Posts: 3,263
Threads: 147
Reputation: 5149
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Jack View Post
Hi,

I am planning to take step 2 CS in April and wondering is there any difference in test centers around USA. Preliminary I have registered in Philadelphia for April 14 but head from my friend that it is the busiest center in the USA and standardized patients are more tired and annoyed, which eventually may lead to lower chance to pass the exam. If you heard anything about it or if you took step 2CS in different centers, could you please share the opinion?

Thank you in advance for consideration and help,

Sincerely,

Jacob
Did you read my post above!

-
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Old 06-15-2014
 
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Posts: 1
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
thank u for information..
But from your point of view which month is good not just for passing exam but to have a high score ?
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Old 06-17-2015
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 2
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
Thanks for the information and advices here I have yet to take NBMP exam in Preliminary dec this year .i have heard that the test centers affects the percentage
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Old 04-09-2016
 
Steps History: ---
Posts: 16
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
i took it in april
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Old 06-17-2016
 
Steps History: 1+CK+CS
Posts: 16
Threads: 3
Reputation: 10
right

Quote:
Originally Posted by StepTaker View Post
I've noticed that many of our International Medical Graduates members in the forums and also several of my friends firmly believe that taking the exam in a certain Calendar months makes significant difference compared to taking it in other months.

Their argument is based on the assumption that if you take the exam during the season when US medical students take the step 1 exam for example (late Summer) then you are likely to compete with a higher number of "good students" and you are probably going to score less! Others say that if you take the exam in California you will be compared to California takers and if you take it in Hawaii you will be compared to Hawaiian examinees!

Although the exam mechanism by which the NBME and the FSMB calculates the USMLE score is still largely unknown (as I eluded to this here), nevertheless, In my opinion, I think this is not true and it's a public myth.

Here's what I base my opinion on:

1) Who said US Medical students score higher than IMGs? If at all there is a difference then it's in the passing percentage not in the score level.
2) The USMLE official website states that the exam is standardized in a way so that the same student (with the same level of preparation and knowledge) would score the same if he/she takes the exam at different times, +/- 5 points on the three digit scale.
3) The USMLE official website did not mention that the exam is competitive. They did not say that your score is calculated in the context of other students' scores. They just set the standard and everybody is scored according to the same standard curve, not according to what other students have scored.
4) If you think that they are doing it but they are not disclosing the fact, then this means that 75% of students taking the exam in a single testing day should fail the test, while that's not the reality.
5) The reason why different three digit scores correspond to the same two digit score is not the level of achievement of others, it's the variation in difficulty of the questions across different exam sessions.
6) Exam dates and timing is not uniform. It can be taken at 8 AM Eastern Time and it can be taking at midnight ET (if the exam is conducted in Japan for example), if they were to compare students with each other, they should have at least synchronized the timing.

So bottom line, I believe that it does not matter when or where you take the exam in September or in January, in California or in Europe. It's still the same standardized scoring system and your chances are equal.

Let me know your thoughts about this
absolutely
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Old 08-25-2016
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 24
Threads: 1
Reputation: 10
thank you.......
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Old 10-29-2016
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 15
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
thank you!
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Old 10-29-2016
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 15
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
I'm taking mine in July. Thoughts?
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Old 02-24-2017
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 6
Threads: 0
Reputation: 11
I don't think that month will determine anything. The only good think about some months is that there is some periods of time when test centers are not so full with people.
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