usmle,plab,amc,mci screening test and other medical step exams study tips

By Live Dr - Sun Nov 09, 1:19 pm



What Does My Score Mean?

For students, the most important point with the Step 1 score is passing versus

failing. Passing essentially means, “Hey, you’re on your way to becoming a

fully licensed doc.”

Beyond that, the main point of having a quantitative score is to give you a

sense of how you’ve done aside from the fact that you’ve passed the exam.

The two-digit or three-digit score gauges how you have done with respect to

the content on the exam.

Since the content of the exam is what drives the score, the profile of the exam is

what remains relatively constant over the years. That is to say that each exam pro-

F I G U R E 2 A . Sample Score Report–Front Page.

Schmoe, Joe T USMLE ID: 1-234-567-8

Anytown, CA 12345 Test Date: June 2002




file includes a certain number of “very hard” questions along with “medium” and

“easy” ones. The questions vary, but the profile of the exam doesn’t change much.

This ensures that someone who scored 200 on the boards yesterday achieved a

level of knowledge similar to that of the person who scored 200 four years ago.

Official NBME/USMLE Resources

We strongly encourage students to use the free materials provided by the testing

agencies (see p. 25) and to study in detail the following NBME publications,

all of which are available on CD-ROM or at the USMLE Web site,


F I G U R E 2B. Sample Score Report–Back Page.

Practice questions may be

easier than the actual exam.


F I G U R E 3 . Scoring Scales for the USMLE Step 1.

3-digit score

2-digit score

SEM = 4 pts

SEM = 1 pt



160 170 190 200 210 220 230 240 250 260

69 82 ~88

(-1 SD) (x) (+1 SD) (+2 SD)


(-2 SD)


TA B L E 1 . Passing Rates for the 2003-2004 USMLE Step 1.a

2003 2004


NBME-registered examinees (U.S./Canadian)

Allopathic students

First-time takers 16,633 93 16,703 93

Repeaters 1,932 62 1,652 64

Allopathic total 18,565 90 18,355 91

Osteopathic students

First-time takers 988 74 1,131 70

Repeaters 55 44 61 53

Osteopathic total 1,043 73 1,192 69

Total (U.S./Canadian) 19,608 89 19,547 89

FMG examinees (ECFMGb registrants)

First-time takers 12,415 65 12,251 67

Repeaters 6,098 42 5,964 40

FMG total 18,513 57 18,215 58

Total Step 1 examinees 38,121 74 37,762 74

aReflects the most current data available at the time of publishing.

bEducational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.



USMLE Step 1 2006 Computer-based Content and Sample Test Questions

(information given free to all examinees)

2006 USMLE Bulletin of Information (information given free to all examinees)

The USMLE Step 1 2006 Computer-based Content and Sample Test Questions

contains approximately 150 questions that are similar in format and content

to the questions on the actual USMLE Step 1. This practice test offers

one of the best methods for assessing your test-taking skills. However, it does

not contain enough questions to simulate the full length of the examination,

and its content represents a limited sampling of the basic science material that

may be covered on Step 1. Most students felt that the questions on the actual

2005 exam were more challenging than those contained in these questions.

Others report encountering a few near-duplicates of these questions on the actual

Step 1. Presumably, these are “experimental” questions, but who knows!

Bottom line: Know these questions!

The extremely detailed Step 1 Content Outline provided by the USMLE has

not proved useful for students studying for the exam. The USMLE even states

that “. . . the content outline is not intended as a guide for curriculum development

or as a study guide.” 4 We concur with this assessment.

The 2006 USMLE Bulletin of Information is found on the CD-ROM. This

publication contains detailed procedural and policy information regarding the

CBT, including descriptions of all three Steps, scoring of the exams, reporting

of scores to medical schools and residency programs, procedures for score

rechecks and other inquiries, policies for irregular behavior, and test dates.

The NBME also offers the Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment

(CBSSA), which tests users on topics covered during basic science courses in a

format similar to that of the USMLE Step 1 examination. The Web-based information

provided via the CBSSA is intended for use as a study tool and not as an

indicator of Step 1 performance. However, students who prepared for the examination

using this Web-based tool found the format and content highly indicative

of questions tested for the Step 1 examination.

The CBSSA exists in two forms: a standard-paced and a self-paced format, both

of which consist of four sections of 50 questions each (a total of 400 multiplechoice

items). The standard-paced format allows the user up to one hour to

complete each section, reflecting the time limits of the actual exam. The selfpaced

format, however, places no time limit on answering the multiple-choice

questions. Keep in mind that this bank of questions is available only on the

Web. The NBME requires that users log on, register, and start within 30 days of

registration. Once the assessment has begun, users are required to complete the

sections within 20 days. Upon completion of the questions, the CBSSA will

provide the user with a performance profile, indicating relative strengths and

weaknesses, similar to the report profile for the USMLE Step 1 exam. However,

please keep in mind that this self-assessment does not provide the user with a list

of correct answers. Feedback from the self-assessment is entirely in the format of

a performance profile and nothing more. The NBME charges $45 for this ser-

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