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airflare

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Hi everyone,

On every interview, the admissions representatives always talk about how well the students do on the boards. I don't know what the boards are like, but I assume it's a standardized test. In that case, doesn't a good score depend more on an individual student's ability than his or her school? I just don't feel that the school's curriculum/teaching style can make that much difference in preparation for the boards compared to individual studying. But the bottom line is: how much should I buy into the sales pitches about board scores?
 

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airflare said:
Hi everyone,

On every interview, the admissions representatives always talk about how well the students do on the boards. I don't know what the boards are like, but I assume it's a standardized test. In that case, doesn't a good score depend more on an individual student's ability than his or her school? I just don't feel that the school's curriculum/teaching style can make that much difference in preparation for the boards compared to individual studying. But the bottom line is: how much should I buy into the sales pitches about board scores?
It's not an aptitude test, so how well the students learned the info and hence how well they were taught comes into play. The issue is volume. What you need to realize is that medicine covers far more material than any human being could learn in ten years, let alone 4. The boards can choose whatever they want to test on from a set of material from which your classes can only possibly cover a subset, and you will in turn only learn a portion of what was taught. So sure, a smarter person has a big advantage on the boards, and in that sense it is an individual ability thing, but the ability of the schools to pack the appropriate info into your head still plays a bigger role.
 

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airflare said:
Hi everyone,

On every interview, the admissions representatives always talk about how well the students do on the boards. I don't know what the boards are like, but I assume it's a standardized test. In that case, doesn't a good score depend more on an individual student's ability than his or her school? I just don't feel that the school's curriculum/teaching style can make that much difference in preparation for the boards compared to individual studying. But the bottom line is: how much should I buy into the sales pitches about board scores?
Hi there,
Many schools use this as a selling tactic. It is not that useful as you are correct in that scores actually depend upon the individual. Everyone in your class can score 240 but you can score 160 and not pass. The average will be good but you will be the odd man out.

It's great that students from said school do well but it's not so much the school as the individual. Every medical student in this country that attends an accredited medical school has access to the material that they need to do well on the boards.

Pick the school where you think you can do best academically and have good study/prep habits. No matter what anyone before you has done, you are ultimately responsible for your board prep.

njbmd :)
 
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unfrozencaveman

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This is a massive source of confusion for me as well.
For one, how widly varying could educations be (PBL, Lecture, organ system, etc), if everyone is doing so well on the boards after the first two years? If you're getting "tons" of clinical exposure your first two years, how is everyone nailing the step 1 compared to people who have sat in lecture every day?
Two, schools parade their board scores, and then dismiss schools that "teach the boards"
My guess is, it's a lot of self-review, and probably not that dissimilar from an analogy to the MCATs. I've resigned myself to thinking *I'm* going to get the same thing on the boards no matter where I go.
 

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unfrozencaveman said:
This is a massive source of confusion for me as well.
For one, how widly varying could educations be (PBL, Lecture, organ system, etc), if everyone is doing so well on the boards after the first two years? If you're getting "tons" of clinical exposure your first two years, how is everyone nailing the step 1 compared to people who have sat in lecture every day?
Two, schools parade their board scores, and then dismiss schools that "teach the boards"
My guess is, it's a lot of self-review, and probably not that dissimilar from an analogy to the MCATs. I've resigned myself to thinking *I'm* going to get the same thing on the boards no matter where I go.
I think that's a great question...it worries me sometimes that I'm especially interested in schools that provide a lot of clinical exposure right away and whose students are usually in class for only half the day. But could this be worse for step 1?

Plus, has anyone ever noticed that all schools seem to say that their students do "above average"? There have to be schools that do below average...so who are they??
 

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MrBurns10 said:
I think that's a great question...it worries me sometimes that I'm especially interested in schools that provide a lot of clinical exposure right away and whose students are usually in class for only half the day. But could this be worse for step 1?

Plus, has anyone ever noticed that all schools seem to say that their students do "above average"? There have to be schools that do below average...so who are they??
probably not the schools your interviewing at, smartie...jk, i know, i've noticed that too....makes me wonder
 

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MrBurns10 said:
Plus, has anyone ever noticed that all schools seem to say that their students do "above average"? There have to be schools that do below average...so who are they??
Ha ha, I've noticed that too. :laugh: It's like Lake Woebegone, where all of the med school students are above average.
 

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Ha ha, I've noticed that too. :laugh: It's like Lake Woebegone, where all of the med school students are above average.
I would agree with the comments that board scores are dependent on individuals except for one piece of evidence to the contrary- Harvard. Whereas almost all of Harvard's peer institutions with similar rankings score one to two sds above the mean on the boards, Harvard hovers around the national average. The only explanation I can think of is that the curriculum at Harvard does not provide as good preparation or that Harvard does not encourage as much board prep or give the students as much time off for board prep as other schools. One or two sds is very significant and shouldn't be ignored...

That said, it's Harvard, so I bet the name compensates for the lower boards.
 

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best to look at the quality of the match list rather than the board scores. Its like treating the symptom instead of the disease. Board scores are only part of the equation for getting the residency of your choice to make you the best doctor possible. afterall, you'll become a doctor in your residency and not your medical school.
 

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Sir William Osler said:
best to look at the quality of the match list rather than the board scores. Its like treating the symptom instead of the disease. Board scores are only part of the equation for getting the residency of your choice to make you the best doctor possible. afterall, you'll become a doctor in your residency and not your medical school.
I suspect a pretty strong correlation between good board scores and a good match list though...
 

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Sir William Osler said:
best to look at the quality of the match list rather than the board scores. Its like treating the symptom instead of the disease. Board scores are only part of the equation for getting the residency of your choice to make you the best doctor possible. afterall, you'll become a doctor in your residency and not your medical school.
I suspect a pretty strong correlation between good board scores and a good match list though...
 

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The quality of the match list is more a factor of the reputation of the school than board scores. The board score correlation isn't so great. In fact, I heard that baylor, nyu, and vanderbilt have some of the top scores every year on USMLE, yet their match lists are not NEARLY as impressive as HMS, UCSF, Yale, etc. Trust me, reputation reputation reputation.

Law2Doc said:
I suspect a pretty strong correlation between good board scores and a good match list though...
 

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Maybe I am biased, but have you seen Baylor's match list? It is wicked sweet!
 
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MrBurns10 said:
I think that's a great question...it worries me sometimes that I'm especially interested in schools that provide a lot of clinical exposure right away and whose students are usually in class for only half the day. But could this be worse for step 1?

Plus, has anyone ever noticed that all schools seem to say that their students do "above average"? There have to be schools that do below average...so who are they??
baylor is an example:

it has 4 hours total for lecture and lab every day, also it only has 1.5yrs of basic sciences (students start clinics in january of 2nd year)

but their board scores average 235 (top 5 in the country)
 

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MED_04 said:
but their board scores average 235 (top 5 in the country)
Where did you learn their ranking for this (unpublished) information? :confused:
 

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unfrozencaveman said:
So... how do you know what a good match list is?

Is there a list of the best residency programs?
I was just wondering the same thing. What makes a match list good?
 

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greendot said:
I was just wondering the same thing. What makes a match list good?
I suspect it would be hard to completely delineate and boil down into a single list, because it varies by specialty, program and geography. Obviously the most competitive specialties at the most prestigious places are the top of the list, but it likely gets pretty murky the further down the list you go. For example, if a school doesn't have many people match into the more competitive specialties, that might not be a good list. But if lots of people who didn't go into competitive specialties still ended up matching at Mass General or UCSF, that would probably still be a good list. Thus I'm not sure how match lists can be used effectively by premeds.
 

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MED_04 said:
baylor is an example:

it has 4 hours total for lecture and lab every day, also it only has 1.5yrs of basic sciences (students start clinics in january of 2nd year)

but their board scores average 235 (top 5 in the country)

Where did you get this info? What are other schools and their board scores? Thanks
 

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greendot said:
I was just wondering the same thing. What makes a match list good?

I suppose what makes it good is how many people get into the most competitive specialties.
 

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tennisnr2 said:
Where did you get this info? What are other schools and their board scores? Thanks
no such ranking exists, several schools are thought to be the high scorers (from hearsay) include:

U-PENN
HARVARD
BAYLOR
NYU
COLUMBIA

i'm sorry it couldn't be more accurate, i think its a good idea medschools don't publish such data, first off because it changes year to year, and i don't think high board scores should be the primary goal of any medical school

some schools though do focus alot on unimportant matter that will not appear on the boards (UCSD's a great example) so even though the students spend alot of time in class they still don't do great on the boards

there are other reasons for Baylor's success with the boards including the option to take the boards after completing the medicine and surgery rotations and also the option to take two months off before taking the Step1
 

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unfrozencaveman said:
So, how important is it to graduate in the top of your class?
I think that depends...

I'd say that generally speaking, the better your school, the less important it is to finish at the top of the class. There are lots of middle of the pack people at top 10 schools getting top residency offers. Also, your residency preference (more or less competitive) also can change the importance of a top of the class finish.

P.S. I like the "not a dude" addition! :thumbup: :laugh:
 

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MED_04 said:
no such ranking exists, several schools are thought to be the high scorers (from hearsay) include...
I think the reason it is difficult to predict the Top X schools (other than the fact that the info isn't published! :p ) is that there are so many schools who's average board scores are so close. I've heard rumor of a number of schools boards scores, and many other schools scores are pretty much the same as the schools you listed.

When it comes down to it, does anyone care about a couple point difference in board score average? In the end it is going to come down to each individual's performance, not the school's average.

I'm guessing that the small difference between many top schools and the lack of relevance for such differences is probably a big reason that the scores aren't published to begin with. (That and reducing the temptation to teach to the boards...)
 

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SailCrazy said:
I think the reason it is difficult to predict the Top X schools (other than the fact that the info isn't published! :p ) is that there are so many schools who's average board scores are so close. I've heard rumor of a number of schools boards scores, and many other schools scores are pretty much the same as the schools you listed.

When it comes down to it, does anyone care about a couple point difference in board score average? In the end it is going to come down to each individual's performance, not the school's average.

I'm guessing that the small difference between many top schools and the lack of relevance for such differences is probalby a big reason that the scores aren't published to begin with. (That and reducing the temptation to teach to the boards...)
agreed
 

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So, what everyone is saying is, I should kill a goat and examine its entrails to figure out where to go to school?
 

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unfrozencaveman said:
So, what everyone is saying is, I should kill a goat and examine its entrails to figure out where to go to school?
Just make sure its not an adcom member's goat. :D
 

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unfrozencaveman said:
So, what everyone is saying is, I should kill a goat and examine its entrails to figure out where to go to school?
yes, that is exactly what it all comes down to...very perceptive caveman
 

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unfrozencaveman said:
So, what everyone is saying is, I should kill a goat and examine its entrails to figure out where to go to school?
As long at that is your way of determing which of several good options "feels right" to you, then yes! :)

I think choosing between several close schools can and should be an emotional as well as an intellecutal decisionmaking process.
 
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