Is there a valid relationship/correlation between MCAT scores and success on the USMLE? On the surface it seems that most would say yes, and have the appropriate statistical data to back up their claim, but they are two seperate tests with different intents. First of all, people who do well on the MCAT may do well on the boards because, by their very nature, they are hard workers, and will rise to various and different challenges. This does not mean that a person with mediocre MCAT scores can not do well on the boards, I have seen it over and over again. Since the tests are different, I would assume they challenge different intelectual skills and attributes of an individual. Am I wrong or right? feel free to jump in.
all I know is, there IS a statistical correlation - people who do well on the MCAT tend to do well on USMLE and vice versa. I am sure that some portion of it is test-taking skills; another portion is what you point out - good study skills.
People who have good test-taking skills and a solid fundamental knowledge of the material being tested, will do well on both USMLE Step I and MCAT. USMLE Step II is a little different in that this test is looking for you to make judgement calls as opposed to testing basic knowledge of disease processes. I will state for the record, that USMLE Step II was the most difficult test that I have taken in my medical school experience. I aced all of my Pre-Board exams but they don’t really mirror USMLE Step II. Besides the clinical experience that you gain from your third-year clerkships, you need to be able to put many aspects of the patient presentation together very quickly and you need to know what to disregard. The clinical scenarios are very long and the test is 400 questions. It takes the full 8 hours even if you are a rapid reader. Most residencies make a decision on whether to invite you for interview based on USMLE Step I rather than Step II because many US grads have not taken Step II by residency application time in September/October. Do keep in mind, that test-taking skills can be mastered with practice so keep practicing with every opportunity. I am not looking forward to Step III.
(Edited by njbmd at 2:22 pm on Feb. 17, 2002)
For those of you who are worried, Step 3 looks rather like Step 2 of USMLE, only easier. So I think the old rule still applies – Step 1 is usually the hardest, and Step 3 is always the easiest.
In the days of pencil and paper USMLE, it was
two weeks studying for Step1
two days studying for Step 2
two #2 pencils brought with you to take Step 3
Now, of course, there are no pencils, but I didn't crack the books much at all for Step 3 and did well on it.