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  #1  
Old 10-05-2012
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Smile Mezman Exam Experience and 12 Rules

I decided to take the exam this week, and even though it was nerve-wracking and annoying, I'm so happy that it is all over. I think the relief you get when the exam is over is the best thing ever.

I think studying for the exam is tedious, but good planning helps - big time. Also, note that the exam is concept based...concepts are sort of trains of thought on issues. They love to stretch your imagination in the exam, so be prepared to extrapolate - a lot. In fact, sometimes, the exam seems like an IQ test.

My exam was loaded with a lot of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Molecular Biology. Please take those subject areas seriously. It can be unsettling to see strange things in the exam and those subjects tend to be annoying. The subject that was tested the most was Pathology. So get a good grip on Pathology with Goljan (Rapid Review Pathology) or Sattar (Pathoma). Try and build stamina in the month leading to the exam by doing full test simulations - 8 hours is a long time.

Here are some RULES and RESOURCES that helped...

RULES...

1. Map out a workable plan/schedule right from the beginning based on your pace (from previous experience). Note that a 2000 item Qbank usually takes at least 200 hours to finish. A First Aid read can take about 10 days depending on your speed. Aim to read First Aid in detail at least twice.

2. When doing questions in practice, cover the answers (using your hands if necessary) first. Try to guess the answer to the question before looking at the options.

3. When you have long questions, read the last sentence first. Then read the whole question...then paraphrase the question, note as many aspects of the question as possible...think this way - if I was the one who wrote this question, what am I actually looking for?

4. Note the trigger words in the stem - the "CLUES"...they could be Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Pathognomonic characteristic, etc. USMLE questions tend to stay true to character and reality...very unlikely to have Red herrings and that is a plus.

5. When doing question banks, do them random, timed.

6. Choose the obvious answer if it is there...most times, there is no "catch".

7. Use a piece of paper to note your thoughts as you read through a question (a writing pad is provided at the exam center for the same purpose).

8. Avoid fixation. When you read a question, don't get stuck on ONE detail amidst others. Take the whole picture. If one detail stands at odds with the vast majority of details or the overall trend of thought of the question, ignore that potentially misleading detail.

9. A good number of questions and their options boils down to making "bets" and playing "odds". Learn the art of making intelligent guesses...it helps.

10. Use the NBMEs both as a learning tool and an assessment tool. It is a learning tool because the concepts from the NBMEs are very frequently retested on the exam. Use online forum discussions to see the trend of thought of your other colleagues on the more difficult questions. The NBMEs are also the most reliable tools for assessment of your progress during study and your readiness for the exam. Do at least two of them and the last one at least two weeks before the exam to give you time for corrective study.

11. Use the commercial question banks as learning tools - not as assessment tools. Read through the explanations as thoroughly as you can. Remember that the exam is about concepts and trends of thought and not really about random facts.

12. Build your stamina...Step 1 is a marathon...8 hours is a LONG time...it really is.


MATERIALS

Indispensable - First Aid, USMLEWorld Qbank, NBMEs, Discussion forums

Very Helpful - A second Qbank (e.g., USMLE Rx QBank, Kaplan QBank), Goljan Audio and Book, Pathoma.

May Be Helpful - Kaplan videos, Review programs (e.g. Falcon, DIT), WebPath slides.

Avoid - other mediocre Qbanks (waste of time), reading big textbooks (check only the most important stuff up), too many mnemonics (insist on understanding concepts).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

On the whole, I think the exam is totally doable. The most important thing I discovered in my prep is that you actually get better as you continue to study. This is not some random exam, it is an exam where hard work really pays off big time.

I wish you all the best as you prepare.
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  #2  
Old 10-05-2012
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Thanks so much!!
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  #3  
Old 10-05-2012
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Thanks so much . Particularly for #3. I hope it helps tackle the very long questions easily.
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  #4  
Old 10-05-2012
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Nailed it. Very good points made. Congrats and all the best to you.

Thanks!!
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  #5  
Old 10-06-2012
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Thanks! We look forward to hearing your good news!
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Old 10-06-2012
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thanks for your effort.. very motivating tips and offcourse the post..!!
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2012
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Default Got my result !!!

Finally got my result this week

263/90

I was very happy with it.

Here are some more reviews of what I thought about the exam.

Subject Areas
Biostatistics: This was very high yield in the exam. There were at least five questions per block testing epidemiology and statistics concept. I highly recommend a thorough epidemiology and biostatistics review before the exam. Harvard is hosting a free Epidemiology Course at the moment at www.edx.org, and I think it is totally worth it to sign up for the course (you'll also have something great to add to your CV).

Pathology was the highest tested subject. Most of the questions were concept based, and weren’t really looking for very small details.

Microbiology emphasized virulence factors a lot. Most of the questions here were very straight-forward.

Molecular Biology concepts were also applied diffusely throughout the exam. Sometimes, the molecular biology questions were very hard to understand.

Specific Concepts
Fungal infections were well tested. An ability to differentiate Coccidiodes, Histoplasmosis and Blastomycosis based on epidemiology, clinical features and morphology of form was tested.

Vitamins, and nutrition topics were generally well tested. The clinical features of hypervitaminosis and the deficiency states are very important.

Genetic questions were quite many. Concepts like penetrance (complete vs incomplete), germline mosaics and imprinting were tested in the form of pedigree diagrams which can be tricky.

Neurotransmitters, hormones and autonomic second messenger systems were well tested.

SLE and the vasculitis were highly tested. Clinical features, laboratory diagnosis and preferred treatment featured.

There were a few questions that required a knowledge of the chromosome anomaly for a disease or chromosomal location of a cancer gene. But these were the common ones. Also had questions requiring memorized knowledge of common Cluster Differention molecules (CD+).

Platelet function and dysfunction were well tested. Function of thrombopoietin, thombomodulin, etc were tested. Hematology as a whole was very high yield.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I think I did well at the exam because I prepared very well. I also planned well ahead and I tried to stick to my plan. I think this exam is about a lot of hardwork, but it surely pays off well in the end. My very best wishes to you as you prepare.
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  #8  
Old 10-28-2012
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Default Got my result !!!

263/90

It think the most important factors were planning and stamina training. Planning ahead and sticking to your plan is vital, because you need to cover the material. Stamina training is necessary because the last two blocks may end up determining your exam score. You need to stay strong till the end.

Best wishes to everyone as you plan, study and train. You can make it too.
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  #9  
Old 10-28-2012
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Default Some thoughts on High Yield areas...

Subject Areas

Biostatistics: This was very high yield in the exam. There were at least five questions per block testing epidemiology and statistics concept. A thoroug biostatistics revision is recommended, as this area seems to be highly tested.

Pathology was the highest tested subject. Most of the questions were concept based, and weren’t really looking for very small details.

Microbiology emphasized virulence factors a lot. Most of the questions here were very straight-forward.

Molecular Biology concepts were also applied diffusely throughout the exam. Sometimes, the molecular biology questions were very hard to understand.

Specific Concepts

Fungal infections were well tested. An ability to differentiate Coccidiodes, Histoplasmosis and Blastomycosis based on epidemiology, clinical features and morphology of form was tested.

Vitamins, and nutrition topics were generally well tested. The clinical features of hypervitaminosis and the deficiency states are very important.

Genetic questions were quite many. Concepts like penetrance (complete vs incomplete), germline mosaics and imprinting were tested in the form of pedigree diagrams which can be tricky.

Neurotransmitters, hormones and autonomic second messenger systems were well tested.

There were a few questions that required a knowledge of the chromosome anomaly for a disease or chromosomal location of a cancer gene. But these were the common ones. Also had questions requiring memorized knowledge of common Cluster Differention molecules (CD+).

Platelet function and dysfunction were well tested. Function of thrombopoietin, thombomodulin, etc were tested. Hematology as a whole was very high yield.
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  #10  
Old 10-28-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mezman View Post
263/90

It think the most important factors were planning and stamina training. Planning ahead and sticking to your plan is vital, because you need to cover the material. Stamina training is necessary because the last two blocks may end up determining your exam score. You need to stay strong till the end.

Best wishes to everyone as you plan, study and train. You can make it too.
Congratulations! Wanted to ask you if you take any NBMEs/UWSA before the exam and what was your score? And if teh exam was similar to any of the NBME? Thanks!
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  #11  
Old 10-28-2012
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Ahhhhhh! Wowie. And your hardwork paid off!

My exam is in two weeks. I am taking my first NBME tomorrow/day after.My question to you is if doing it offline should be a bad idea? I have cost issues, or would've done it online. Will defintely do one online for sure! Also, where do you recommend I do slides/CT's from at this stage? Lastly, you and many test takers stress on stamina. Would the NBME's help in that aspect? Thank you for the experience, the advice, and heartiest congratulations to you on the star score! Bless.
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  #12  
Old 10-28-2012
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many many congratulations on the great score

can you please provide tips on how to memorize first aid, how many readings does it need when to know you understand, i do questions but still get them wrong how can i fix this

which second question bank will help? kaplan or usmlerx?
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  #13  
Old 10-28-2012
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@Teona...yes, the NBMEs were predictive. I took one two months before and another one two weeks before the exam. The questions in the exam proper were similar to the NBMEs and to USMLEWorld.

@dockhi...I'll strongly recommend doing the NBME online (do the comprehensive one, it tells you the questions you got wrong). You can do stamina training by doing sets of 300 to 400 questions at a time. I did my stamina training every Saturday for a month before the exam. It really helped a lot. When I first started, I couldn't do more than 4 blocks at a stretch, but gradually, I learned to focus to the very end.

@usmle_taker...your questions are linked. Actually, most people think USMLERx Q-bank helps you to memorize First Aid (And I think this is true). But I did USMLEWorld and Kaplan. I think an ideal situation will be to do all three Q-banks if you have the time.
Remember that First Aid is a summary. So it is poor for understanding concepts, rather it just helps to remind you of what you should already know. The exam is highly CONCEPT-based, so just cramming First Aid won't help. However, using First Aid to spot your weak areas and then using other resources to understand these concepts is key.
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  #14  
Old 10-28-2012
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hey what did you do in your last 3 month?(firstaid plus qbanks?
in general first aid is sufficient with kaplan for step1 or need supplement?
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  #15  
Old 10-28-2012
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Default Congrats!!!

Congrats on such a great score...and a really freat post indeed...

Can u plzz just summarize the material u used for each subject...

TQ
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  #16  
Old 10-28-2012
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Congrats on amazing score!! As you said for path either use goljan rapid review or pathoma.... If u did both then which of them was reallyy helpful to tackle exam q?


Thanks and good luck in future
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  #17  
Old 10-29-2012
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Congrats.How long do you study for and with what material.Also when do you start doing q bank.
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  #18  
Old 10-29-2012
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Default congratulation

hi

thanks for post
congratulations wish u best score
i have step 1 exam third time
i need ur help
how autonomic system and neurotransmitter was tested
and what type of hormones u mean
what about anatomy which part tested
if u like u can send message to my mail:samihajj12@gmail.com
i will appreciate ur help

Quote:
Originally Posted by mezman View Post
Subject Areas

Biostatistics: This was very high yield in the exam. There were at least five questions per block testing epidemiology and statistics concept. A thoroug biostatistics revision is recommended, as this area seems to be highly tested.

Pathology was the highest tested subject. Most of the questions were concept based, and weren’t really looking for very small details.

Microbiology emphasized virulence factors a lot. Most of the questions here were very straight-forward.

Molecular Biology concepts were also applied diffusely throughout the exam. Sometimes, the molecular biology questions were very hard to understand.

Specific Concepts

Fungal infections were well tested. An ability to differentiate Coccidiodes, Histoplasmosis and Blastomycosis based on epidemiology, clinical features and morphology of form was tested.

Vitamins, and nutrition topics were generally well tested. The clinical features of hypervitaminosis and the deficiency states are very important.

Genetic questions were quite many. Concepts like penetrance (complete vs incomplete), germline mosaics and imprinting were tested in the form of pedigree diagrams which can be tricky.

Neurotransmitters, hormones and autonomic second messenger systems were well tested.

There were a few questions that required a knowledge of the chromosome anomaly for a disease or chromosomal location of a cancer gene. But these were the common ones. Also had questions requiring memorized knowledge of common Cluster Differention molecules (CD+).

Platelet function and dysfunction were well tested. Function of thrombopoietin, thombomodulin, etc were tested. Hematology as a whole was very high yield.
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  #19  
Old 10-29-2012
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Awesome score! Congrats. You obviously did Something right.In the last month of your preparation, what did u Focus on? I'm in the last month and I'm going crazee. I need help on high yield stuff to do.Thanks!
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  #20  
Old 11-05-2012
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Sorry for the late reply - I was really busy...I hope the answers here help...

@Nino...the last month is most critical...I think you should focus on building stamina and reinforcing what you already know. If you have finished USMLEWorld Qbank once, do it again from the beginning. Do all the NBMEs and go through forums to look through the arguments others make. Lastly, start your stamina training. All the very best.

@Samihajj12...sorry, but I can't remember any specifics.

@itmt11, cage92, NAZIAMK...please check the first post.

@Rush1986...I didn't read RRP...I only listened to Dr. Goljan's Audios...I think they were very helpful.
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  #21  
Old 11-06-2012
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congrats dude that is an awesome score i would die for such a score
i did NBME 13 scored 221
my exam is in a week
this score is not what i want
can i do something to raise it by 10 to 15 points
also i have posted some NBME 13 questions can you please have a look at them and tell me the correct answers
thanks
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