HELP: Scheduling the USMLE steps while being a medical student in a curriculum that does not make provisions for the test - USMLE Forums
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  #1  
Old 11-21-2010
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Help HELP: Scheduling the USMLE steps while being a medical student in a curriculum that does not make provisions for the test

Hello everyone

I just joined this forum a few days ago and this is one of my first posts.

Now, I need some advice regarding how I should prep myself & schedule the exam. The post I'm about to make is pretty long and may look clumsy but I have to put in some basic information about my condition so that you guys can give me a sound advice. I earnestly request you to please go through it and help me with scheduling the Step I.

First off, I am a medical student in Chittagong, Bangladesh going to start my 3rd year coming January. The curriculum of our course (MBBS) is divided into 3 phases:
(i) 1 and 1/2 yrs Pre‐clinical; when we study Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry,
(ii) 2 yrs Para‐clinical; when we study Pathology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, Microbiology & Immunology, Forensic Medicine and Community Medicine(which partly covers behavioral science), and finally
(iii) 1 and 1/2 years Clinical; when we go through Medicine, Surgery and Obs. & Gynae.
At the end of each phase we sit a 'professional exam' and I've just passed my first one. I will sit the second professional exam in by August 2012. I will have finished the subjects tested in Step I although might not be with full coverage of topics and in enough detail. I know that we haven't been taught Physiology in enough detail and I was particularly weak in Biochemistry & Genetics so I need to review them thoroughly. I wish to study my second phase subjects in a way more oriented towards the USMLE so hopefully I wont have much deficit in those subjects (i.e. Patho, Pharma & Micro & Immuno).

Now my question is if I take the USMLE Step I at the end of Dec 2012, after completing my 2nd professional exam in end of Aug/beginning of Sep, will about 3 months of time be enough to prepare for the Step I? I will still have my final phase classes & wards but I can afford to slack a little for the first 3‐4 months (Oct‐Dec '12) and concentrate on USMLE. I have to be give more time to my curriculum from '13 so I don't know whether it would be wise to delay the Step I to a later date but maybe I could add a month or so. I will be graduating in Jan '14 soon after which I plan to take my Step 2 CK before getting busy with my internship, the schedule of which wont allow me to study much. After my internship I wish to make a trip to US to sit Step 2 CS and get some US clinical experience. So delaying both Step I and II CK till after graduation or taking all three parts after internship might not be the right thing either.

I am unsure whether the tentative plans I have made regarding the USMLE are appropriate or not. So could someone be kind enough to advise me as to what would be the best path for me to take given my circumstances and if my current plan is okay, how should I be studying the next few years (esp for Path, Pharma & Micro & Immuno and whether I should be revising Ana, Physio & Biochem in between).

I know the post is really long and it might be a bore to read the whole of it but I would very much appreciate any words of advice, suggestions or tips. I would also like to here from international students who are going/went through their own curriculum yet simultaneously managed to prepare & take the USMLE.

Thank you in advance!
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2010
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Jeesan, first of all, congratulations on passing your first professionals. I know its not easy and its a big victory. You should celebrate

As far as your personal study plan goes, you alone know how prepared you are for USMLE style questions. I know its very different from the Bangladeshi system - not better - just different. So you have to figure out where you stand with respects to the subjects you mention - especially:

Physiology
Pathophysiology
Immunology and Genetics
and Behavioural science.

From what I understand, most people coming out of British style medical systems usually spend 6-9 months going over Kaplan and other material before they feel ready. So I guess that is not good news for your schedule.

The good side though, is this... Even if you finish your internship in approximately August after your fifth year, you will have a lot of difficulty applying for the same match year. So that leaves you with a whole year to finish your steps and get your USCE. Remember that once you pass your step your score is forever so I would definitely try to set your schedule with the maximum score in mind. Don't rush, instead, make a schedule, a realistic study schedule once you have understood exactly what you need to cover (some of the free online information sessions from Kaplan and others and research on these forums and on the ecfmg site can help you with this) make a realistic schedule based not on what you know but on what you need to know and stick to it. Your current plan is very heavy on what you know now. I don't really think that is the way you should think when it comes to the USMLE. I hope that you understand what I mean.

I hope that helps. You sound like a focused, ambitious young soon to be doctor. I'm sure you'll do well.
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Jeesan (11-23-2010)
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Old 11-23-2010
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Thank you so much ashishkabir, both for the advice and the compliments You are a very helpful and motivating person. I'm sure you make a wonderful doctor.

Thats a really good piece of advice; making a schedule based on not what I know but what I need to know...it struck me in the right place. A friend of mine who's interested in the USMLE also was telling me the same thing, to take the steps after internship. I will do more thinking and ofcourse some researching before making a final plan.

But as you said I alone will know how prepared I am for the test, just in case I feel I have prepared well enough by the time I sit my 2nd professional, are there any trial tests that mocks the real exam and could give me a good estimate of my performance in the real one? I heard something about NBME forms...I need to do some searching online.

Thank you once again ashishkabir, I appreciate it very much
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Old 11-24-2010
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Glad to help You'll do great... Here is the link for the forms that you are looking for... This is the official link and every form costs $45 but dont buy anything until you feel ready using practice questions from your qbanks (Kaplan qbank and USMLEWorld) Once you get a passing grade on the NBME form then you can schedule your test date

https://nsas.nbme.org/nsasweb/servlet/mesa_main

Do some more research and make sure you collect the right material for you. Then you will be ready to really focus your schedule. If you are disciplined enough, you can certainly do this...
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Old 11-24-2010
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Thank you once again Dr. Kabir
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