Qbank depression

Ok - so I finally started serious studying for step one about a week and a half ago . . . scheduled for Sept. 12th, which gives me four total weeks. Anyways, Qbank is really dragging me down. My scores range from 42% TO 60%, hovering mostly around 50%. So - with two and a half weeks to go, should I be worried? I do feel like I am reviewing stuff and I actually KNOW a lot more of the answers to the questions as opposed to randomly guessing, but at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency. I hit my high of 60% yesterday, but then dropped to one of my lowest scores since I started reviewing.

I plan on taking the NBME practice test a week before the exam. My dean told me that the score on that seems to correlate pretty well to actual scores. I have the option to delay it no more than one week.

I’m starting to get really depressed - I know Qbank scores are typically pretty low, but I don’t know how to translate the scores to how my preparation is actually going. Any pointers (besides the obvious that I should be studying and not on OPM? ;))

I hated QBank and hence stopped after like 400 questions. I found the test NOT at all like the USMLE. I took two NBME exams (actually 3 if you count the one our school gave us) and those were by FAR the most like Step 1. I would suggest trying “other” questions sources and see if that boosts your morale. I was getting so down with Qbank that eventually just thinking about doing questions made me sick. Good luck!

Thanks, efex. I considered buying another question bank - I’ve heard good things about USMLEWorld. I just hate to fork out more $$$ with such limited time left. As much as I hate the qbank questions, I feel I am learning from them. I definitely plan on doing all of the free NBME/USMLE questions, as well as paying to do one of the four hour practice tests that gives you a score and breaks down your week areas.

On the plus side - I actually got a 72% on a question set. Now if I can only focus for the next couple of weeks . . .

Any thoughts on whether its better to spend more time reviewing from books (i.e. BRS phys, path, goljan path) or just doing questions?

Amy, I had my ups and downs with QBank as well, in the weeks leading up to Step 1. It got so I was constantly checking back on SDN because there were a few threads on this topic. I’d get a couple in a row of 60s, then do a 40 and be crushed. In the end, I think I ended up getting mostly in the 60s, and I scored right around the mean on Step 1, for what that’s worth. I am pretty sure that just like you can’t REALLY extrapolate from your practice tests to the real MCAT, you can’t REALLY extrapolate from your QBank (or other prep) performance to the real thing. Yeah, you get a sense - I mean, if you were consistently getting 80s on QBank, I’d bet you are going to do better than average on the USMLE, and the reverse - poor practice predicts poor performance. But I know I read somewhere that doing better than 50% on QBank should make you feel comfortable that you’ll pass Step 1, anyway. I am sure that no one will try to make it more cut-and-dried than that - e.g. 50% = 185, 60% = 195 etc. I’m sure there’s way more variability than that.

In the end, I think it was valuable to get acclimated to the testing format. I agree with efex that the questions weren’t THAT much like the real thing. It was a lot like Kaplan’s MCAT questions - they were an interesting mix of both more nit-picky and less relevant than the actual test. The real USMLE, when I took it several years ago, featured much longer questions than QBank did, but aside from that not-terribly-helpful factoid, I frankly have blanked it from my memory as a bad dream.

It’s a tossup in my book which was worse - MCAT or USMLE Step 1. The rest of the Steps, my yearly in-training exams, and my certification exams were nothing compared to those two.


Thanks, Mary. I’ve been doing much better. Just reading the explanations for the answers is doing a world of good. I’m hopeful that I will be where I need to be for this.

It’s kind of overwhelming to have only four weeks to review everything from med 1 and med 2. I have to say that this is far worse than the MCAT, but then again, I didn’t study for the MCAT. I lucked out on that, but I don’t think that strategy will work for Step 1. From here on out, it is questions, questions, first aid, and more questions.

Try the CD at the back of Dr. Goljans texts (Rapid Review). You should not have to buy additional questions,most schools will carry the RR series and you can do questions in the library from the CD. Great source!

Ah yes - the CD’s at the back of the book. The wonderful publishers no longer put CDs with the books. They instead put a code in front of the book for you to access the extra content online. Only one person can “register” a text and access expires after a year or so. Some texts still include 50 - 100 questions at the end of the text, but some don’t. Yet another ploy to get people to buy new copies instead of purchasing used ones.

In any case, I have plenty of questions. I did purchase Goljan’s Rapid Review at the beginning of the year and will do all the paper and web questions for that. I also did the questions at the end of RR’s micro/immuno. I will plan to go through the questions in BRS phys and BRS path.

Ok - back to studying instead of surfing the web.