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The effect of three commercial coaching courses on Step One USMLE performance

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12787375

BACKGROUND: A substantial industry exists to provide formal review courses for Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). There are limited data on the usefulness of these courses.

AIM: To determine whether or not student participation in a commercial coaching course improves performance on Step 1 of the USMLE.

METHODS: Scores achieved by 468 students on the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Comprehensive Basic Science Examination (CBSE) were used to predict a score on Step 1 of the USMLE. The NBME is the organisation that prepares and administers the USMLE. Predicted USMLE scores were then regressed against the actual scores achieved by the students on Step 1. The students were divided into 2 groups: those who took a 3-4-week live commercial coaching course and those who studied on their own.

RESULTS: The regression lines for the 369 students who studied on their own and the 99 students who took a commercial coaching course were statistically indistinguishable. The analysis was powerful enough to have picked up a difference of 1% on average (P = 0.05) or 2 questions out of the 350 constituting Step 1 of the USMLE. Neither the students who performed above average nor those who performed below average on the CBSE improved their performance on Step 1 as a result of the coaching courses.

CONCLUSIONS: Students who take a live, 3-4-week commercial coaching course to improve performance on Step 1 of the USMLE do not achieve higher scores than students who study on their own. Students should strongly consider whether or not a substantial investment in time and money for a commercial coaching course is justified in the light of such meagre returns.

People with experience in the matter... what do u think about this article, and does this apply to international medical students who have different prep in comparison with us medical students.
 

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Old study

This study was done in 2003 and I think the commercial teaching courses have improved a lot during these 8 years.

They know now what comes and what does not come in the exam and they give really focused high yield crash courses.

I think if they repeat the study nowadays they'll find very different results.
 

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The effect of three commercial coaching courses on Step One USMLE performance

People with experience in the matter... what do u think about this article, and does this apply to international medical students who have different prep in comparison with us medical students.
I think this is the crux of your question: whether it applies to international med students or not. I think that many foreign med schools don't teach the concepts emphasized by the USMLE, so these prep courses help to bring those students to the level they need to be to do well on the test. It's not just foreign schools, I know of US schools where students are required to take a prep course, meaning the school charges the fee for the course in the tuition so all students take the course whether or not they want to. Pretty much no one at my school takes a prep course, so I am assuming we learn most of the info in class, and we can study the rest on our own. I would suggest not using blanket studies like this to make decisions, but to way the risks and benefits for your individual situation.
 
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