Poor Step 1, OK Step 2, OK Step 3

9/9/2012 10:50:25 AM
Again, this post is for those with a poor score on any Step component. I had a poor Step 1 score. Refer to my previous post at:


Got my Step 3 score at midnight last Wednesday. Thanks to God's mercy I scored 221.

Exam experience
The exam was difficult. UWorld question difficulty was a tad lower than the actual exam but similar question topics came. I walked out of the exam feeling that there would be a chance that I would fail. Most of the questions came down to two answer choices which I had to blatantly guess. Time management was a critical factor, however, this was the first USMLE in which I was able to answer all of the questions. The CCS isn't difficult if you're a practising physician and if you're familiar with the software.

Exam Preparation
Total prep time was 4 months. During that time I worked at a hospital in my country, did an elective and then an observership.

The choice of books for Step 3 is very limited as compared to previous steps.
I used the following books:

1. Master the Boards (MTB) Step 3 - Easy to read, excellent coverage of basic CCS content but the MCQ content isn't broad.

2. First Aid (FA) for Step 3 - Easier for me to read because of the similar style in previous FA books. Covers more UWorld MCQ topics than MTB. However, it contains a lot of low yield information. CCS content was ok.

UWorld CCS practice cases were lifesaving.

Don't bother to use NBME as a score predictor. Form 1 - 390 (was upset after seeing this so I studied even more), Form 2 - 290 (I was shocked, I was seriously considering to defer the exam).

Scored 220 in the UWSA 10 days before the exam so I decided to take the exam.

In the final week, the stress and burnout was affecting me. I hadn't taken a break since I started USMLE prep in 2009. I had severe headaches when I attempted any studying. I lost 4 days of preparation in the final week. I prayed daily for success before and after my exam and God answered my prayer.

Again, the bottom line: Pray hard and study hard, as long as you put in the work, God will get you through. For most people these exams are a test of your faith, be strong.

I hope this post inspires others to persevere even when others tell you to give up and you feel depressed.

I'm praying that I'll get a match into Internal Medicine in 2013. Pray for me guys, I'd really appreciate it.

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