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Old 07-23-2014
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Smile Smashingdude experience for Step 3: An honest review!

Well, the journey to steps has come to an end. Mannnnn, its just impossible for me to believe that just a few months back, I was writing my Step1 experience, and now I am jotting doing the last review - time truly flies. For those of you who are struggling through the winded paths of the Steps, know that it will be over sooner than you expect.

Materials

I did a shotgun approach for Step3, going over multiple things at the same time. Frankly, in retrospective, you only need UW, MTB3 and your CK notes. You can opt for Archer workshop videos, and they offer some good points.

MTB3/MTB2 MTB3 was sufficient for the other disciplines apart from IM, but I think it lags a lot on some core aspects that the exam tests. Frankly, I reviewed it only once 5 days before exam. I gave CK 2-3 months back, so the information was still afresh.

CK Notes I skimmed my UW CK notes, and it definitely helped me remember some concepts not mentioned in UW of Step3. Give them a quick read to help you recall, and to develop the concepts further while you do the MCQ's of UW Step3.

UW Ofcourse, goes without saying. Can't live without knowing it in/out. UW was quite sufficient, but I felt I need more questions (it only had around 1230 questions), therefore gave Kaplan Qbank a go. I saw many concepts repeated in the exam.

As for UW CCS, the simulated 52 cases offer a good practice of the real software, and the 41 handout cases are a good quick review. I did the cases 2x, and I think its more than enough. The 41 handout cases can be done if you have time, but are not necessary.

Kaplan Qbank Only around 700-800 questions, and they offer a good addition to the tested knowledge. However, Kaplan Qbank drags on rare, small, low-yield facts now and then. Nevertheless, it was a good exercise.

Archer videos for CCS The strategy video offered a good insight, and made you familiar with basic concepts on dealing with the cases. I watched 2 workshops, and they helped me in getting some workup parameters. However, I think Archer did go into over diagnosis/workup, since my CCS analysis wasnt that good, even though I thought I did pretty well. More on this later.

Archer Qbank on his blog If you get time, you can review some of the questions on the blog. They are to further build your concept, but don't take them word for word, since some are too obscure, and some dont have proper explanations. Only as practice.

Knowmedge Only did the free 20 questions. They are good, and have neat explanations. Don't know how are the rest of the questions

Neeraj Neeraj notes for Step3 are like a bulletpoint summary of the important points present in Kaplan Qbank. They are useful before the exam as a quick review and for recall. His CCS notes gave a few extra points now and then, but most of it you would have known from UW. Read them if you get time.

Kaplan Step 3 Videos The step 3 videos are organized in cases, and I didnt have time to go over all of them. I only watched 3 or 4 I guess, but it becomes too boring, and is not that helpful for MCQ's. They may help for CCS, but I think UW does way better job. If you start early and have plenty of time, then you may watch some. Otherwise, its NOT necessary! Also, I've seen my friends use the Kaplan Step3 books. They are NOT necessary as well. In fact, Kaplan as a whole is not necessary for Step3, except maybe the Qbank.

Conrad Fishcer CCS book This was a new book released back in Feb/March of 2014. I gave it like a quick skim now and then just to see how it was. Its not that helpful as UW CCS is pretty sufficient. You can do it if you have time, but it won't give you anymore help other than UW CCS/MTB3.

My stats

UW(100% done) -> 73%(stratified), 85%(non stratified)
KP -> 75%
UWSA -> 256/690
NBME form 3 -> 650 (148/180, 32 wrong)
Fred -> 86% (85/99 - 14 wrong)
Real Deal -> 241 !!! Alhumdullilah

Time

Time-> Around 2.5 months. I used to study 10-12 hours/day. You can get done with less than 2 months, as I became lazy in the middle.
YOG-> 2012

Method

-One of the best things I did is to start right after CK. I took a gap of around a month of 2, and then started studying for Step3
-I used to do MCQ's/blocks in the morning, review them till late afternoon, and then 2-3 CCS Cases in the evening before sleeping. This was a good routine, and I highly advise to practice the CCS cases/software early on.
-I took UW Notes on a separate notebook, divided into disciplines. Not a lot of notes this time, which was a huge relief!
-I first did UW, finished all of it. I felt I needed more questions, so did Kaplan Qbank. In retrospective, I should have first done Kaplan Qbank, and then UW, since your final concepts should be only from UW. Nevertheless, it wasnt that much of a problem and I retained all my UW concepts nicely.
-After the qbanks, I took UWSA. It was fairly predictive and a good exercise. I then revised the material once more, read MTB3 really fast, and then took an NBME. I highly advise you to take an NBME as it offers confidence and is a good exercise. I took form 3, and it was quite good. A word of advice. No point in taking extended forms as you wont be able to find discussions/answers online. If you have money issue, take either UWSA or NBME.
-Just 2 days before exam, I took the Fred practice questions for Step3. Its a must you go over them since the question format is somewhere a cross between Fred and NBME.


Exam

-Well, not that hard as I expected it to be. I felt like crap coming out of CK, however, after Step3, I felt confident of my answers, and felt myself to be in control. It wasnt a bad feeling per so, but not also a good one. Like a mixed feeling of relief that its all over.

-Day 1 was long, but over in the blink of an eye. I took breaks between each block, and I highly advise you to do it as well. The questions were alright, albeit a bit complicated. Day 2 questions were easier, but some were tricky, and some asked for classic recall. Take Day2 lightly, and dont rush your breaks. You will have plenty of time as the cases finish fast and all the extra time adds up to your break time. By the end of Day 2, I had 2 hours of break time remaining! Therefore, take a break after every MCQ block, and then just do 2-3 cases at a time, take a break, and then come back. I had 12 cases, and they all finished earlier then there allocated time.

-Be relaxed during your cases. Don't rush things, and dont panic. You have plenty of time! This usually happens for the first case. Take a deep breath, and think that you are doing any other case of UW when you start the first case. I screwed up my first case cause of anxiety, and couldn't think straight. Later on, I got in the flow of doing cases, and it felt just like doing UW cases.

-The concepts tested are spread across all over. Some things you will only know if you are working as a resident; if you are only observing/externship as I am, a few things are too vague to answer correctly. Nevertheless, experience counts just a little towards your score. You can do perfectly fine if you are not a resident.

-UW taught me quite well, and add a bit of Kaplan Qbank here and there, you are all set to go. But note, you will have many questions where you wont have a clue on how to answer, and will come down to 50/50 guesswork.

-Know the common preventive guidelines. As for pediatric, know when and when not to intervene There were few straightforward recall type Step 1 question. Nothing that you cant do.

-Biostats is a nightmare as always. You will have either a drug-add or an abstract in every block. Drugads are easy, and are kinda like finding a needle in a haystack. You just have to read carefully. Abstracts are long and hard, with so many tables/numbers. Read the question first before the abstract, then jump to the conclusion/table part and see if you can make any sense out of it, and quickly pick an answer. Don't waste more than 3 minutes as a whole on it, and review them at the end. Or pick randomly the answers, and come to them only in the end. Don't ponder over them, time runs out fast and you have lots of more points to get from doing other MCQ's then these vague abstracts. Its completely alright to screw them up!

-As for the length of questions, its the same as UW. I didnt have a problem with time, and had around 5 minutes remaining with each block. 2nd day questions were a bit tricky, and I almost ran out of time in one block. They usually give you a number of small questions, and then suddenly a very long question. So dont think you can relax while you reach question 45. Any of the next three question can be a freaking long question taking at least a second read to understand.

-CCS cases. They were classic, simple cases, and UW offers enough practice, and the Archer reviews offer a good insight. I thought I did the cases quite well, but surprisingly, my performance was not high performance, but borderline, and going over to high performance, with 2 stars on low performance. It is so strange to me, since I did all cases quite well, with counselling/diagnosis/treatment/proper monitoring and followup. They all finished when I did the things correctly, and all of them mentioned that the patient improved and was better.

I did screw up 2 cases, and that might have caused it. One case, I couldn't address the patient's symptom till like 15-18 hours as I had missed a crucial physical exam finding (CRAP ME! ) But 2 cases wouldn't affect the performance that gravely. I think it was a common mistake with all the cases. The only explanation I can come up with is over-diagnosing/workup. I went a bit extra, just to cover myself, and ordered many tests for a particular case. Although they were in the scope of the case, I think its a good idea to not spread out wide and order everything that UW or the books says. Don't try to be ideal, but rather try what you would actually do in the clinic. I also counselled them on common topics, but try to counsel accordingly, relevant to your case. Don't overkill and start counselling on everything.

Final Words

-So, Step 3, what's the verdict? Completely doable with a limited material review. I felt better after it than CK, and the questions were more in line with what I studied. Not like CK, it was a nightmare for me!

-Can you do it in 6-7 weeks? Definitely. Stick to UW if you are looking for a passing score, and watch 1-2 Archer workshop. Its more than enough to get you in 220's

-What's the core advice? Start early for CCS cases, and dont take them lightly. I thought I had mastered them (I could do a 20min case easily in like 8-9 minutes) but they came to bite me. Make a routine of doing MCQs/Cases side by side, everyday. Oh and start after your CK, the fresh knowledge surely helps you out.

Aright folks, thats it with my experience threads for the exams. I do have a few more tips to share for the exam, but I am just blanked out and my creative side is taking a nap I'll write experience thread for the Match/Interview/Residency/USMLE as a whole, but everything in its due time. For now, I am going to chill. Bye bye USMLE's and thank you everyone for reading my threads, and I hope they help and enlighten you. Best of luck in all your endeavors.

One last advice - Persistent and perseverance, and the flowing waterfall carves rivers along the lofty mountains.
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Last edited by Smashingdude; 07-23-2014 at 06:49 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2014
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congratulatons on that massive score.. when it comes to reviews you are my favourite.. thank you for such a detailed input. good luck in the coming match..
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Old 07-23-2014
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Wow, thank you so much for the detailed review. And congratulations on the amazing score..
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  #4  
Old 07-23-2014
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Nice review! just got done with CK few days ago. I want to start preparing for Step 3 but don't know how different the new format will be.
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Old 07-23-2014
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i always like reading your reviews.. thanks..
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Old 07-23-2014
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Congrats you really doomed the exam!
I have a question: is there any medias like heart murmurs or pictures like x-ray/ct in the real exam? I just finished uw and it seems that it completely lacks of heart sounds.
Thank you and congrats again!
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  #7  
Old 07-23-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neuron View Post
Congrats you really doomed the exam!
I have a question: is there any medias like heart murmurs or pictures like x-ray/ct in the real exam? I just finished uw and it seems that it completely lacks of heart sounds.
Thank you and congrats again!
Yes. There were like 6-7 media questions, but nothing that you cant do. Heart murmurs, Xray, ECG's, CT were all present. They had the exact same difficulty as CK.
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Old 07-24-2014
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you got 12 ccs cases, 8 cases of 20 min and remaining 4 cases of 10 min ?
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  #9  
Old 07-25-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gallstones View Post
you got 12 ccs cases, 8 cases of 20 min and remaining 4 cases of 10 min ?
There were only two 10 min cases for me. Rest all were 20 min.
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Old 07-26-2014
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How did you manage pause time on day first?
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  #11  
Old 07-26-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neuron View Post
How did you manage pause time on day first?
I took break after every block for 7-8 mins. 1 or 2 blocks, I took only a 5mins break so as to have more time later on, and it worked. The rest of the breaks were more relaxed, and I wasn't that tensed.

But these first few breaks, I was running to the bathroom, and back again. Really fast!
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  #12  
Old 02-17-2015
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Amazing experience. Thanks a lot.

Just a quick question. I was hoping you could shed some insight.

I'm 20% into UWorld and my average so far is 57% :/ I finished Kaplan Qbank at 58%. I've read MTB 3 only once and that too about 60%.

Should I start making notes from UWorld in a separate notebook? So far I'm just reading the explanations.

Thanks. (I'd be happy with >215.)
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Old 02-22-2015
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Hi, can I ask, the abstracts and drug adds in Uworld for step 3, are they exactly the same as the ones in Uworld for step2? thanks
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  #14  
Old 02-25-2015
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Default Congrats!!

u smashed it smashing dude!!
I am planning to give the exam in 2 months..hopefully your advice will help. want to be done with USMLE forever
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  #15  
Old 03-04-2015
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Step 3 is probably is easiest out of all the exams. That is of course if you do IM or Family medicine. Its general knowledge and most can do it. If you are in residency already take it in your first year, it will be easier.
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  #16  
Old 03-10-2015
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Good and clean review! well done! thanks for it
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  #17  
Old 03-20-2015
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Can you share your step2 CK notes please?
My email : laith_rashdan@hotmail.com
Thanks in advance
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  #18  
Old 03-20-2015
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finally found relief i also ended 2,5 hours earlier and started seriously doubting that I may have missed a block or something

Good luck! Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2015
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Please someone can tell me where can I find the Fred practice questions for USMLE step 3. I already google it but nothing...
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