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Old 09-17-2016
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Question When should IMGs take Step 1?

In my opinion, the sooner the better. Most
students who take Step 1 immediately after completing
the basic science subjects report that itís
easier to recall difficult subject matter. But depending
on how your curriculum was taught and
your grasp of the material, it may or may not be
optimal to take Step 1 during the summer after
completing your basic sciences. Consider some of
the points below, and decide whatís best for you.
Most IMGs will find that traditional first-year
topics are difficult to recall and that behavioral
science and US epidemiology are not covered in
their schoolís curriculum. Further, many students
educated outside the US are not exposed to the
types of integrated clinical vignettes that appear
on Step 1 and are not accustomed to 8-hour
computerized exams. Such factors may cause
students to delay studying until theyíre able to
devote their undivided attention on the exam.
Full preparation requires not only a firm understanding
of the subject matter, but the ability to
integrate information across disciplines, apply
knowledge to difficult clinical vignette questions,
and to maintain stamina and concentration
during an 8-hour examination period. This takes
diligent practice to master well!
Some US IMGs return during semester breaks to
complete a live review course. Although, most
non-US IMGs are not able to do this until after
graduation when they can attend a Kaplan Medical
review course in the US on a student visa, due
in part to time constraints during medical school
or internship/house surgency.
A common misconception by many International
medical students is that taking the exam in a particular
month will get them a better score. There
is no statistical evidence that shows IMG test
results are affected by US studentsí test-taking
trends. Still, if youíre taking the exam in the US ,
itís possible that some testing sites will have less
availability in June-August when US students are
taking Step 1, so do be sure to reserve your test
date in advance if you must test during these
If you intend to apply for an elective rotation in
the US (which are only available to international
students who have not yet graduated), you may
need Step 1 as a prerequisite. Keep this in mind when weighing the advantages and disadvantages
for taking Step 1 while enrolled in medical
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