tips TO medical EXAM PREPARATION
By Live Dr - Sun Nov 09, 1:04 pm
GUIDE TO EFFICENT EXAM PREPARATION
What Does the CBT Format Mean to Me?
The significance of the CBT to you depends on the requirements of your school
and your level of computer knowledge. If you hate computers and freak out
whenever you see one, you might want to face your fears as soon as possible.
Spend some time playing with a Windows-based system and pointing and clicking
icons or buttons with a mouse. These are the absolute basics, and you won’t
want to waste valuable exam time figuring them out on test day. Your test taking
will proceed by pointing and clicking, essentially without the use of the keyboard.
The free CD is an excellent way to become familiar with the test interface.
For those who feel they would benefit, the USMLE offers an opportunity to
take a simulated test, or “CBT Practice Session at a Prometric center.” Students
are eligible to take the three-and-one-half-hour practice session after
they have received their fluorescent orange scheduling permit (see below).
The same USMLE Step 1 sample test items (150 questions) available on the CD
or USMLE Web site, www.usmle.org, are used at these sessions. No new items
will be presented. The session is divided into three one-hour blocks of 50 test
items each and costs about $42. The student receives a printed percent-correct
score after completing the session. No explanations of questions are provided.
You may register for a practice session online at www.usmle.org.
How Do I Register to Take the Exam?
Step 1 or Step 2 applications may be printed from the USMLE Web site.
The application allows applicants to select one of 12 overlapping three-month
blocks in which to be tested (e.g., April-May-June, June-July-August). The
application includes a photo ID form that must be certified by an official at
your medical school to verify your enrollment. After the NBME processes
your application, it will send you a fluorescent orange slip of paper called a
The scheduling permit you receive from the NBME will contain your USMLE
identification number, the eligibility period in which you may take the exam, and
two unique numbers. One of these is known as your “scheduling number.” You
must have this number to make your exam appointment with Prometric. The
other number is known as the “candidate identification number,” or CIN. Examinees
must enter their CINs at the Prometric workstation to access their exams.
Prometric has no access to the codes. Do not lose your permit! You will not be
allowed to take the boards unless you present this permit along with an unexpired,
government-issued photo identification with your signature (such as a driver’s
license or passport). Make sure the name on your photo ID exactly matches
the name appearing on your scheduling permit.
Once you receive your scheduling permit, you may call the Prometric tollfree
number to arrange a time to take the exam. Although requests for taking
Enter or spacebar–Move to
Esc–Exit pop-up Lab and
Alt-T–Countdown timers for
current session and overall
Ctrl-Alt-Delete are the keys of
death during the exam. Don’t
Test scheduling is on a “firstcome,
first-served” basis. It’s
important to call and schedule
an exam date as soon as you
receive your scheduling
GUIDE TO E FFICIENT EXAM PREPARATION 6
the exam may be completed more than six months before the test date, examinees
will not receive their scheduling permits earlier than six months before
the eligibility period. The eligibility period is the three-month period you
have chosen to take the exam. Most medical students choose the April-June
or June-August period. Because exams are scheduled on a “first-come, firstserved”
basis, it is recommended that you telephone Prometric as soon as you
have received your permit. After you’ve scheduled your exam, it’s a good idea
to confirm your exam appointment with Prometric at least one week prior to
your test date. Prometric does not provide written confirmation of exam date,
time, or location. Be sure to read the 2006 USMLE Bulletin of Information
for further details.
What If I Need to Reschedule the Exam?
You can change your date and/or center by contacting Prometric at 1-800-
MED-EXAM (1-800-633-3926) or www.prometric.com. Make sure to have
your CIN when rescheduling. If you are rescheduling by phone, you must
speak with a Prometric representative; leaving a voice-mail message will not
suffice. To avoid a rescheduling fee, you will need to request a change before
noon EST at least five business days before your appointment. Please note
that your rescheduled test date must fall within your assigned three-month eligibility
When Should I Register for the Exam?
Although there are no deadlines for registering for Step 1, you should plan to
register at least six months ahead of your desired test date. This will guarantee
that you will get either your test center of choice or one within a 50-mile radius
of your first choice. For most U.S. medical students, the desired testing
window is in June, since most medical school curricula for the second year
end in May or June. Thus, U.S. medical students should plan to register before
January for a June test date. The timing of the exam is more flexible for
IMGs, as it is related only to when they finish exam preparation.
Choose your three-month eligibility period wisely. If you need to reschedule
outside your initial three-month period, you must submit a new application
along with another application fee.
Where Can I Take the Exam?
Your testing location is arranged with Prometric when you call for your test
date (after you receive your scheduling permit). For a list of Prometric locations
nearest you, visit www.prometric.com.
Testing centers are closed on
major holidays and during the
first two weeks of January.
Register six months in
advance for seating and