Board Study . . . . . . .

. . . and study, and study, and study. . . . . . . until my head screams “Stop!!! Give me a break!”

I am spending at least 10 hours every day with my books, computer, audio and video tapes, review books, etc., just trying to expand my knowledge. I have tried to add board review to my study all year long, so this is a lot of review. . . at least I hope that’s what it is. But sometimes I feel like I will never know all the bugs and drugs and all their mechanisms. At the very least, I may be totally bald from pulling my hair out!

Then again, it only goes on at this pace for three more weeks and then it’s time to prove that I have learned what I need to know to continue. I guess I’d better get back to those review resources!

Linda, Good luck on your studying. I’m particularly interested in your feedback. I begin at NYCOM in the fall and have to make a decision whether or not to choose their new PBL pilot track. I would be one of their first 40. It sounds like a great way to learn but I’m concerned about board performance and if it would be harder to do well without the lectures. I did a search and saw that you’ve been PBL at WVSOM. Still like it now that you are preparing for boards?
PS. I’m still trying to arrange my life to go to the conference and meet you all in person. It’s not easy as the mother of a 6 year old.

For me PBL has worked really well. I love being able to relate issues we are learning to actual cases. I find it much easier to recall them when needed.
The one thing to remember is you have to have great time management skills. There are a number of students in our PBL that are single parents, and they find it extremely beneficial to be able to spend more time studying during the day while there kids are in school. PBL does allow a little more flexible time. Most of the single parents have their kids in an afterschool program of some kind, which gives them more time to study before picking the kids up. That means the time after they pick up the kids can be spent on the kids. . . and once they’re tucked safely in their beds, the single moms and/or dads can return to their own books and studying. It seems to be working well.
The other thing about PBL, if it is in a school where SBL is also offered, is that you can usually sit in on lectures that you are interested in. So, if you’re having trouble with micro or pharmacology, then check the SBL’s lecture schedule and see when the next lectures are on the subjects you would like to have more structured learning. And don’t forget, the instructors, at least here at WVSOM, are more than willing to spend time with you helping you understand or work through any problems you may feel you have.
Anyway, I hope to get to meet you at the conference. Bring your daughter. She’ll have a great time!

Hey Linda,
First of all, you are REVIEWING. I KNOW for sure that you know your stuff. You are reviewing the bugs and drugs so lets put this in perspective. Second, take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water. If nothing else, you can flood your kidneys and you HAVE to get up and go to the bathroom so drink lots of water while reviewing. Third, your PBL is a built-in advantage. Your school has integrated everything for you and had done a great job. You will see how well this is going to work for you.
Finally, your reward in four days in Arlington, Va. The second place award is five days in Arlington, Va. I am still trying to find some coverage for my service so I can get there but no help as of yet.
Keep reviewing and drink plenty of water!

Howdy Linda!
Man, do I remember being where you are right now: “must cram more info into already saturated brain… must study more… need more caffeine… if only I can do another 50,000 QBank questions…” In other words, I feel your pain.
As it turns out, though, I think I WAY overstudied for Step I and certainly over stressed. I went all Gonzo for that stupid thing for about two months putting in roughly 10 hours a day for 6-7 days a week. Way, way out of control.
I think I burned out my study circuits or something because I haven’t been able to mount anywhere near that type of effort for any test since. I studied SO much less frantically for Step II and performed just as well. I think this argues either 1) killing yourself in self-gunner mode is counterproductive or 2) these types of exams test some sort of intrinsic test-taking ability. Or, possibly, 3) both of the above.
In any case, as Natalie said, you’ve already learned everything you’re going to learn for this test, you’re just reminding yourself that you know it and getting it at the front of your brain. Try to relax a bit (yes, I realize how impossible that is but figured I had to say it anyway).
If you’ve already taken the thing by now… Congratulations! If not, Good luck!
Take care,
Jeff: MD - 24 days and counting!

You know the old saying about studying for the Steps…
2 months for Step 1
2 weeks for Step 2
#2 pencil for Step 3
(obviously a joke from the old days, but the point is still obvious)
I agree, Jeff. I did kinda mediocre on Step 1 so I did study for Step 2 but I couldn’t make myself get into the intensity I’d done for Step 1 - and yet I did 20 points better. Now for Step 3 I have these great review books sitting on my desk, and unless osmosis counts as a study process, I can’t say I’m utilizing them yet. Maybe at some point I’ll get serious, but since Step 3 is essentially pass-fail it’s REALLY hard to get up much enthusiasm for it.


2 months for Step 1
2 weeks for Step 2
#2 pencil for Step 3

Howdy Mary!
Maybe we should change that last one to 2 seconds of finger stretches (for the computer) before Step 3.
The worst thing possible for my motivation to study for Step 3 is the point you made…pass/fail. Unless my motivation changes significantly, I won’t even buy the silly books.
Of course, we both have a sort of advantage on that test since both our specialties cover a wide breadth of clinical information. Fortunately, the test doesn’t often go much past the depth in any one topic that we’re likely to need for our in service exams. And yes, I realize that this may just be wishful thinking.
Take care,
MD - 14 days and counting


Take care,
Jeff: MD - 24 days and counting!

Boy, it sure is a good thing math isn’t tested on any of these shelf/board exams! I graduate in 15 days, not 24 (or 14 as my other post said). And to think, I’ve been spending lots of time helping my first grader with her math. Maybe she should go ask her mom next time!
Take care,
MD - … oh hell with it … soon

Like the others before me, I studied my ass off…OVER STUDIED…for step 1, but did pretty well (about 1 standard deviation above the mean). Step 2 - studied about 4 days & made the EXACT same score as step 1. Step 3…as Mary can attest (she bought my step 3 prep books)…I nary cracked a book! Once it dawned upon me that it was essentially pass/fail & that fellowships could give a damn about your step 3 scores - I decided I had better things to do. I passed it with a significantly lower score…but I passed the damned thing!

I know. I know. You all tell me that I will be fine; that I am doing nothing now but reviewing. BUT, some days it seems as if everything I am reviewing is new. I’m really tired and I get so frustrated. I am doing Kaplan Q-bank and getting 75-85% most of the time. The USMLEasy questions are a little harder, and I seem to be stuck at 65-75%. And I was feeling pretty good about that. Then I found a new site with free practice board tests ( and I’m lucky to get 55% on their tests. Now I start to worry all over again.
Darn! I will be so glad when next Tuesday and Wednesday are over! Can’t wait to get to the conference!

your numbers on QBank are golden - you are going to do just fine. I know from your vantage point it’s hard to believe but definitely be sure to pencil in some OFF time and some relaxation as you approach this test next week. I actually stopped studying about three days before the test and I think that was a really good idea. See you soon!

Thanks for the encouraging words and advice. My plan right now is to study through noon Friday, then eat lunch, get my hair done, see my OMT doctor for a little manipulation, and then just have fun the rest of the weekend. Zane is planning on taking me out to dinner one day, a movie one day. We always have church on Sunday. And the other thing I want to do is rest; I mean really rest!
Anyway, by 5 p.m. next Wednesday it will be all over. Then it’s come home and pack for the trip to DC (and we’re going to spend a few extra days after the conference in Pennsylvania, too!). Can’t wait to see everyone next week!

Linda, if you are getting 75-85% on Q-bank, you are doing GREAT! I would have loved to have that high a score on Q-bank most of the time-- my average was somewhere between 50 and 75%, and I did just fine on the actual exam. Most people I know did not have the sort of Q-bank scores you have, and they all passed, at the very least. You sound very, very prepared. I would wish you good luck, but I don’t think you need any luck.

Studying and reviewing has come to an end. Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. I have to be at our alumni center for COMLEX step 1. Funny thing is I’m eerily calm. Almost scares me. By this time before tests in the past, I have already begun to panic.
Thanks to everyone for the encouraging words and kind thoughts. Keep me (and everyone taking boards tomorrow) in your prayers.
For those of you going to the conference, I’ll see you there!


Funny thing is I’m eerily calm.

This smacks of being well-prepared. In essence, you have prepped until you are so familiar that it has become enui. Maintain this calm dispo & you will crush the Boards!
If you get a bit rattled during the exam (we all do!), take a few precious moments to clear your baffles. I do one of two things - close my eyes & take some deep claming breaths until my mind clears or skip to a totally different section of questions to begin afresh…of course, I return to the section eliciting the anxiety later. Miraculously, that section, upon my return, is never as unsettling as it was previously.
Best of luck & success to you. If you don’t drink now, you will start after it is over!

I think you are doing fabulously if you are getting 75-85 on Kaplan. Here are some interesting correlations
Also had a friend who took NBME practice a week before exam and scored only 2 points higher than the NBME administered at our school (imagine her dismay!) But then took a break the next day, didn’t study, and took NBME practice test 2 and got 20 points higher, so maybe you are just burning out a little? But I am with you on the panicky feeling… I am scoring much lower than 75-85 on Kaplan and am taking the exam Friday so am seriously trying to cram as much into my head as possible (admist a sick husband and baby!) Good luck and I must stop procrastinating now and return to drugs , drugs, and more drugs!
Donna Roybal
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
MS III (so long as I pass Step 1)

Okay all. I just got home and had dinner after day 1 of COMLEX, and I did just what I thought I would do. . . .remembered a few questions I was unsure of and came home and checked them out. Of the 8 I remembered, I actually had chosen the right answer on every one!! Somehow, like I said before, I am still really calm and feeling like this is one beast I truly can handle. That is, assuming my eyes don’t totally wear out!! So it’s back to test tomorrow at 7 a.m., and the afternoon will seem long I’m sure, BUT, I will be getting an adrenaline rush just thinking about leaving Thursday morning for the conference!! YAY!!

I am so happy for you! I had a feeling it would all come together for you!

CONGRATS! That’s awesome!! Continued best wishes tomorrow!