Reserved. . . but ready!

Reserved, but ready. That’s how I felt when I walked into the Thomson Prometric Center yesterday and sat down to tackle the USMLE Step 1.

Unlike the COMLEX, I had never before done the USMLE. I can say that it is difficult, but not much different than the COMLEX except for the question format. COMLEX has more of the serial questions where you first must figure out the diagnosis or basic science problem (like what enzyme deficiency, hormone problem, etc), and then the next question or two are based on that answer. The problem with that is if you miss the diagnosis, you are probably going to be wrong on the follow-up questions as well. The main other difference I saw is that USMLE seemed to have a lot more questions on biostats.

Anyway, I think I actually used just about every minute allowed for each block. But I never felt hurried and didn’t allow myself to get frustrated. Just followed the test strategy I had learned at the PASS program. First, DON’T look at the answers. Read the last sentence of the question first. Then look for the clue or concept based upon what that question was. Once you find it, formulate your answer in your mind. If you can’t think of the answer, then think about what you DO know. Finally look at the answers, see which one best fits what you thought and, then …“click and move”.

I feel like the format is working well for me and I do not find myself so easily swayed by answers that look familiar and comfortable. I have also found that when I think I know nothing about a subject, if I stop and think about what I actually DO know, a lot of times the answer is there.

So for now, as far as the USMLE goes, it’s time to just sit back and wait for the results. This test is not mandatory for me, but is something I wanted to accomplish.

Next Wednesday is COMLEX day. I plan on going into it with the same ‘reserved, but ready’ approach. The basic outline of the exam is the same. 7 blocks of 50 questions. Unlike the USMLE, breaks are only allowed after the 2nd, 4th, and 6th blocks. USMLE allowed you to take your breaks after any block you chose. So, when I did the USMLE yesterday, I took my breaks just as I will on COMLEX. Using my insulin pump, which I’ve now had for about a month, I was able to keep track of my blood sugars, and bolus, if necessary. I also kept fruit on hand and ate a few grapes at each break, along with a half of a natural peanut butter on whole grain bread sandwich for lunch, to keep me from dropping too low. It seemed to work really well, so I will do the same thing next week.

From now until then, I plan to keep on reviewing my basic sciences and spend a good deal of time reviewing osteopathic principles, somatic dysfunctions and treatments, etc. I also have some practice COMLEX exams to complete.

Basically, though, I will do the same thing I’ve been doing for the last few months. Although a lot of people say to take the day off before the exam, that will not be what I do. For me, the routine is important, and it aids in keeping my stamina at its best. The only difference from any other day will be that I will go to bed a little earlier and get a good, solid night’s sleep.

That’s about it for now. I need to get back to my review. The funny thing is I am actually enjoying it and look forward to next Wednesday! Any and all good thoughts are truly appreciated.


Congrats on getting the USMLE out of the way, Linda! I am glad you feel confident about how the day went. Personally, I felt absolutely shredded.

I wish you the best on the COMLEX next week. I will be thinking of you.

Amy, as to the results, it’s still a wait and see. But, the difference I noticed was that I went in to the exam actually feeling ready and I did not allow fear or anxiety to inhibit my thought process.

I have told several of my friends and doctors that I finally feel like my mind, body, and spirit are working in unison. I have a deep inner peace that I have never felt before. And that, for me, is a new accomplishment. . . one for which I am very grateful!

Thanks for the good wishes for COMLEX. And now that your exam is over, try and relax while you await the results. Then it is onward and upward with your education and career!

You go, girl! Keep us posted!