I just finished my USMLE Step 1 exam two days back and would like to share my experience.
First of all, it wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. It was not very different from the mcq's we have. There was not any special stress of any discipline or system. All the questions were in equal proportions and more of interdisciplinary ones.
First of all I found a friend who stays just 1 km away from the center. It helped me save morning travel time and get one hour more of sleep. I slept at 11 pm and got up at 7. Reviewd first aid in one hour and reached the center ten minutes before the time given. I familiarised myself with the surroundings till i was called which was the exact time given to me in my appointment. After doing the necessary identification process i was seated in the exam chamber and asked to start.
I never had any problem of time at home when I used to do questions from cd's, but I had problem there. So even if you are perfect at home doing timed tests you still may have problems so be on your toes as soon as the first block begins. In my first block I had problem of time. I wanted to be so sure of the choices I clicked even in the easy questions that I won't move on to the next question till I know yes I have clicked the right answer only.
This is something that we should be careful of because in the last ten minutes there were 15 questions left and I had to go fast then. First I searched for the workable questions with short stems and answered them and then came to longer ones. In the end i finished all questions in first block but I was not satisfied with my performance.
I took a deep breath and went to open the next block, repeatedly telling myself not to spend extra time on any question.MARK AND GO...MARK AND GO.......No turning back.If I found myself stuck on any question I left it there and started from reverse. from 5oth questions backwards. Surprisingly you will find easy questions there. but still i wasn't perfect in 2nd block. Last two minutes I had 5 questions left.
THen I took a break for 15minutes. I skipped the tutorial and had 55 minutes before I took my first break. I had chocolate and cold drink, washed my face, did deep breathing, took a walk in lounge and came in.
Block three onwards I found myself composed and not getting panicky even if I found difficulty in answering the questions.
Thereafter I took a break after every block.Had a long break of 25minutes after fourth block for lunch and also because i had lot of time left and only 3 blocks to go.I would suggest even if you take a break to just walk around till the loo and come back that refreshes you so take a break after every block after doing first two in a go.
I got pictures, images, mri, ctscans around 30 in whole test. They were pretty workable, didn't find any serious problem there.
There were questions making you imagine things e.g. Suppose if this happens......then what will be the changes, like that. Those were the questions for which I wrote in my first message that THEY DON'T TEST WHAT WE HAVE STUDIED BUT WHAT WE KNOW. I found graphs with new parameters on x and y axis, never found in any review books. testing the same concept but in a different way.
The difficulty level was slightly say 10% more than what we have in cd's. And I attribute this to their presentation of questions in a way that they are not testing what we have studied but what we know. there won't be any usual key words. Everything was "camouflaged". This doesn't mean that there were not easy questions. Some around 25% were damn easy requiring only reading of the question and you are with the answer even without reading the choices.
Time factor is important because I found myself stuck on some questions for more than two minutes because of really long clinical history. Actually, there were quite a few taking 30 seconds just to read the question.
Break time was surplus. I had seven minutes break left even after i finished my last block.
If anyone wants to ask anything in particular, feel free to ask here in RxPG USMLE Forums.
All the best guys.
Note: Originally posted at http://www.rxpgonline.com/postp168809.html.
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