a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Saturday, September 02, 2006
  The Step 1 exam

It has been a long time since I wrote here. The last 40 days or so have been quite a roller-coaster ride for me. Since the last time I blogged, I went into overdrive for the Step 1 prep, studying some 10-12 hours a day. I was consumed by the exam and although there were many moments when I felt terrible, insecure, scared and unready, I never let it overwhelm me. I plodded on, drawing from reserves of nerve and fortitude I didn’t know I had.

The night before the exam, I had a very good night’s rest. I slept for more than 8 hours and slept well.

The exam itself however is a different story. I went into the exam expecting to find it manageable. I expected to walk away feeling that it was reasonably easy and that I had done a good job. I expected to finish the blocks well before the time was up and add the time left over to my break time. This did not happen. I barely finished the blocks with more than 2 minutes to spare, and there were questions on the exam that had me sweating from my ass. Overall, it’s been very difficult for me to gauge my performance on this exam. Two days have passed now and the emotionality is ebbing away from the experience and I’m thinking more logically about it.

My Qbank scores had not been encouraging. There were blocks where I was way over the mean, but my final score was not very high compared to some of my more accomplished peers. However, I didn’t finish all of Qbank either, only some 67%. I tell myself that had I finished it, the average would have surely risen because the scores from these practice blocks go way up at the very end. I did do a lot of questions however, about 2500+ in all, using Qbank and the new usmlerx. I wanted to finish both question banks, but just couldn’t manage it.

I think to some extent, the negative feelings I have developed since the exam are due to my very high degree of suspicion when answering even apparently easy questions. I always, always thought they were out to trick me, and even when I answered an easy question, I moved on feeling I had missed some trick they put into the question. Also, I expected a lot of straightforward presentations of cases, but the exam frequently tried very hard to present the same thing in a totally new light. I had to think quite hard to see through something.

There was a feeling of being swept away by this exam. I didn’t feel like I was in control. I felt like the exam was in control. I answered 350 questions in 8 hours and its astonishing how little of the exam I actually remember now. I think I’ve recalled some 15 questions till now, although I’m not really trying to remember anything. This bothers me a lot as well. How many questions was I unsure of? How many did I just guess based on some vague recall of a concept? How many did I frustratingly get wrong because I couldn’t remember that concept even though I had done it before?

I simply don’t know. I was leaning forward, scowling at the computer the whole time. It was like a brutal, vicious fight, not an orderly, gentlemanly game of cards. I came out of there initially feeling relieved that this thing was finally over, but the doubts started soon after. I’m trying to forget the exam now and move on, trying to relax before I start my Step 2 CK prep soon. When I get tense or feel bad about the exam, I tell myself that I tried my absolute best. I was as hard as I could be on myself and pushed myself to my limits. The rest is in God’s hands. Whatever score “my best” translates into, I have to accept that and be content with that. I feel no regret right now over the amount of effort that I put into this exam. I think I should have started doing questions much earlier in the game, but that is a strategic error. There was no shortage of guts and heart in my efforts, and there at least I’m satisfied.

WHOA - it sounds like a brutal fist fight... It was the same reaction when I gave my GRE's LOL lucky then it was more a casual approach and my admission to the US school was not entirely dependent on the sccores, so I took it a little easy, went it hoping to kick some butt, but in return got my ass whooped :)

Came out of the Analytical part with survivable numbers to be accepted - and by survivable I mean barely acceptable LOL

All is well that ends well.

Wish you all the best in Step 2 until you resume your warm-up fist fights take a time off and do populate our inboxes with some thoughts.
would u believe if I tell u that all of us who come out after the exam have the same feeling u did...trust me, its normal...and dont try to remember the questions...i didnt remember any either...relax and chill...u deserve it...
awwww dude, you tried your best and thats what counts. Inshallah im sure you did well. I find if i can't remember the questions at the end it generally means its cos i didn't have to think too hard about answering them. But hey in medical exams its not even worth thinking about how u "may" have done, its always a surprise each time! Good luck studying for step 2! i have part 4 exams coming up in 5 days and am freaking!! :P
I've heard from friends that it's awful!
you l rock ..inshAllah
have faith n keep praying real hard.
we all will,inshallah...n it l aal turn out real well in the end, inshallah
best of luck with ur ck prep!!!!
I hope this gives you that much needed closure DP.
Keep the faith and insha'Allah we'll have good news in three weeks!
Sorry for being late on the front. Exam or should i say killer exam in less than tweo weeks. Anyways i think you did all the right things and have all the same feelings as all 99ers around me had.
As Usman said don't try to remember anything. What's done is done with.
InshaAllah you will ace and the magic will be yours. Then you will look back and smile at all the thoughts that you are having right now.
I say party man. And i say we deserve a good piece of usual Pakiman writing here on the blog. Its been soooo damn long man.
Have faith DP..let the winds of fate take you where they may!
Hope ur exams go well..
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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