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Dispelling the Harvard Board Score Myth

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Einsteinemc2, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. Einsteinemc2

    Einsteinemc2 Member
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    So one of my close friends is a first year at Harvard med and said that they had a "class meeting" today because a lot of the class was worried that HMS board scores weren't top notch (and for other reasons I forget). One of the deans apparently showed the class how their board scores stacked up against everyone else (the other schools had codes as opposed to names) and for the past 5-7 years or so, HMS has always been in the top 5, and twice#1. So those rumours about inadequate preparation aren't really true at all.

    Man, I want to get in.
     
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  3. rouge et noir

    rouge et noir What's new, pussycat?
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    How long did it take you to make that up?
























    I'm kidding.
     
  4. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    Guys, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought board scores were no longer released based on school, to keep schools and applicants from comparing one another based upon average board scores . . . or perhaps I've just been in this proccess too long and my facts and getting muddled . . .
     
  5. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a
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    At my interview there one of the student tour guides said they are now required to take the Kaplan course for Step 1. I didn't press him for details. Anyone at Harvard want to confirm?
     
  6. TheMightyAngus

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    Schools keep track of their own USMLE data. But they probably only release it if they have something to brag. Penn gives all students who interview access to a link that shows their board scores over the last couple test administrations. There was an earlier post with a link to Stanford's website also reporting bragging rights.

    It is interesting to note that the lower ranked schools I've interviewed at always claim to have board scores "around and slightly above" the national mean. If the elite schools have averages around 235, and the national average is 216, either a lot of schools have to be slightly below the mean or there are a couple of schools with averages way below the mean. Everyone can't be above average. So which ones are sub-par?
     
  7. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    But do the schools get data from the testing service, or are the scores student self reported? And even if the schools get their own data (or create it from students reports) that wouldn't give them lists for every other school (unless they all shared . . . not likely in my opinion). Just curious . . . but yes, I've noticed that every schools claims to have great board scores . . . maybe there are lots of non-US students taking the boards and they make the average plummet.
     
  8. ms1finally

    ms1finally Senior Member
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    I wonder how Harvard has this information, seeing as it's NOT AVAILABLE!
     
  9. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    That's what I thought. Thanks for clearing that up.
     
  10. Einsteinemc2

    Einsteinemc2 Member
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    I didn't question my friend... not possible that schools would share scores?
     
  11. ms1finally

    ms1finally Senior Member
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    I sincerely doubt it. Go hang out in allo for a bit. You'll discover that one of the biggest mysteries is what a school's average board scores are!
     
  12. synapse lapse

    synapse lapse tokyo robotic
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    Yeah, schools only get the averages for their own students from NBME, they certianly don't get every schools averages. There is no way Harvard had access to this data. And yeah, board scores are such a hard piece of information to come by, we need to start a spreadsheet allowing students to report what the school told them and having multiple students independantly verify that info without knowledge of the other students answers. I can supply scores for my school, and I know UTMB told us at interview what their averages were.
     
  13. spoon

    spoon Member
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    what are you considering lower ranked? since you are interviewing at places like penn, i would think your safeties might be lower ranked schools within the top 50 - not schools like in the 90's and 100's. (i obviously have no clue where you are applying, just throwing that out there as a possibility)

    if that is the case, then it is more understandable. if you are interviewing at some of the truly lower ranked schools, then i also wonder...
     
  14. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but from reading the myriad threads out there, I came to a realization that ranking has nothing whatsoever to do with the school's board scores. Also, what this thread suggests is that no one has access to a school's board scores but for the school itself, meaning that U.S. News cannot use board scores as a method of ranking. Since ranking is largely based on the NIH money garnered by faculty and not students, I would assume that board scores and rankings can vary a great degree. I do understand, however, that people who attend top-notch schools got there by scoring high on standardized tests in the first place. However, you have to keep in mind that the MCAT and USMLE are probably as different as the SAT is from the MCAT, and I know a lot of people who scored low on their SAT, got into low-tier undergrad schools, then rocked their MCAT because they worked hard. I suppose people who get into highly ranked med schools have less motivation to score very high on their boards since the name of their school itself supports their application, whereas those attending lower-ranked schools focus a lot on the boards and possibly attend Kaplan and end up scoring well. And as you have all already noticed, I hope, from your MCAT, getting a high score is really not related to where you went to undergrad as much as it is related to how much practice you got in the MCAT. I suppose the same goes for the board exam. So, bottomline, I would say that rank and board scores are really not as corelated as one may initially think. Comments?
     
  15. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    I really do not know what the term "national average" refers to. If it refers to EVERYONE who takes the USMLE, bear in mind that many physicians who have come to the United States from overseas are also contributing to that average. Usually, those physicians have already completed their residency training and only take the USMLE to pass so that they can be licensed physicians in this country. They could care less what the actual score they get is. Plus, some are actually old and have finished their med. school a very long time ago, so they wouldn't score very well anyway. If those people are contributing to the "national mean," then it would make sense that most U.S. med schools have scores that are above the national mean. For one, those are American students who are taught a curriculum that focuses on the USMLE's organ-based system, and they have just finished their second year of med school, so all the info is fresh in their minds. On the other hand, if "national average" only referred to U.S. med school students without taking into account those other test-takers, it would be a different story. Can anyone find out?
     
  16. ms1finally

    ms1finally Senior Member
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    USMLE average scores are based on those scores from United States graduates only. FMGs don't affect the average, although they are scored on the same criteria. So there goes that theory.
     
  17. spoon

    spoon Member
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    i'm pretty sure there is data to support a significant correlation between MCAT score and USMLE step 1 (and 2?) score as well as basic science performance in medical school. also, i think the correlation between "good numbers" candidates (high gpa, high mcat) who also matriculate at top-ranked schools is an important one when considering this - i do think people who have a history of strong numbers are more likely to score well on the boards.

    i am speculating. but that is my hunch.
     
  18. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    What about the Caribbean?
     
  19. Rendar5

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    he just said.
     
  20. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    The reason I ask is that Caribbean schools are sort of intermingled with American ones. Someone I know who is going there said that they do their rotations in the U.S., and only two years or so are spent in the Caribbean. I don't know if that would make them Caribbean "graduates" or U.S. graduates. So I was just wondering if they are included in the American medical school pool.
     
  21. Rendar5

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    which carribean schools are those? Carribean is FMG because the schools are accredited in a foreign country.
     
  22. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    He said he was either going to Ross or St. George. He will start in January. According to him, it would take him a year and a half to finish what American students do in two years. He would then come to the U.S. for rotations. His friends have done that. They got >90 percentile scores on their boards and are now in derm. and radiology residencies in the U.S.
     
  23. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    A number of carribean schools have students doing rotations in the US (lack of facilities on these islands). However, these students are still FMG's and their degrees are from schools not accredited in the US.
     
  24. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    Thanks for the clarification! :cool:
     
  25. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.
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    Very interesting. Derm and radiology residencies for IMGs (FMGs)? Sounds suspicious. There are many qualified U.S. students that don't get matched at all for those competitive residencies.
     
  26. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.
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    Yeah. Best stick with LCME accredited schools, U.S. and Canada! :D
     
  27. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    I agree. Look at the match lists for SGU and Ross.
     
  28. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    True.. That's why I was surprised, and thought that they were considered American graduates. Perhaps it was a bad chain of transmission. Sometimes information gets fabricated in the process of telling people.
     
  29. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.
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    Really...
     
  30. MDDM

    MDDM Senior Member
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    So I thought I'd verify things for Mr. Davis. I actually found the claim I heard to be true. Although I didn't find any recent people from the Caribbean who matched into dermatology (I only looked at two schools), there's quite a good amount who went into radiology, orthopedic surgery, and ophthalmology.

    Here's Ross:

    http://www.rossu.edu/med/whyross/recordachieve_041.cfm

    Here's St. George:

    http://www.sgu.edu/website/sguwebsite.nsf/Home/1997_2002ResidencyList.htm
     
  31. TheMightyAngus

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    Sure if you consider "good," 4 people in 5 years matching into orthopedics and 3 matching into opth. (St George data).
     
  32. anon-y-mouse

    anon-y-mouse Senior Member
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    can someone explain the allure of ophthalmology? i can spell the word, but i guess i'm naive otherwise :) why is it so sought after? I mean... eye doctor?

    (apologies in advance for my ignorance)
     
  33. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.
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    My honest opinion is that I detest Carribean schools. To me, they are just selling a pipe dream. You will always be an IMG, ALWAYS. Thats a tough battle. If I were you, stick to North America, especially if you are already a citizen/perm resident. Why go leave the the premier place in the world to learn medicine to train in a 3rd world region? Doesnt make sense.
     
  34. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.
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    Laser Eye Surgery? If you were one of these guys when it first started, you would be a very rich man. I posted about this one guy in my area.
     
  35. ms1finally

    ms1finally Senior Member
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    The lure of ophtho is that it is a surgery subspecialty, so you get to be a surgeon, but with a MUCH more 9-5 lifestyle. In addition, you don't have to do a surgery prelim year, you can actually do a medicine prelim year (much easier!) and then go on to your ophtho training. Some training programs let their ophtho residents take call from home!!!! And as soon as you are out, you make lots of $$$. I know someone who is fresh out of his training program and making 300K this year. Sigh...must be nice!!!
     
  36. red dot

    red dot burning, burning
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    ok i'm sure it's been said before somewhere sometime not necessarily too long ago, but wtf! THEY can hide their board scores and stats but WE have to be judged my mere numbers?! grrr... two-faced hypocritical system!
     
  37. anon-y-mouse

    anon-y-mouse Senior Member
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    A surgeon only in name I guess ;) Unless you purchase one of those laser eye machines. What is it that they do to get 300K?? I mean, how often does the general public go to the eye doctor... it seems rarely... :) I guess the 9-5 part is there. Also, if one's (say) an ophtho, can one still work in family clinics, doing more generalized stuff? Like, say, primary care.
     
  38. radioh3ad

    radioh3ad march 18th
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    my med school's penis is bigger than your med school's penis. :horns:
     
  39. Mateodaspy

    Mateodaspy Senior Member
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    Okay, just to clear this up... I'm a first year at HMS who went to the class meeting on Thursday and YES, they did show us a ranking of the Board scores for the top 10 schools (other schools were coded, so the exact ranking of all schools wasn't quite clear)... Apparently there is a consortium of ivies that share board score data internally.... According to the spreadsheet she showed us, HMS consistently ranked in the top 5 positions (usu. top three) amongst these schools. In 2004, for instance, the mean Step I score for HMS was 230, well above the national average, and about in line with most of the highest ranking institutions. Hope that clears things up!
     
  40. synapse lapse

    synapse lapse tokyo robotic
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    Ah, ok so they ranked top 5/3 among the 10 schools in the consortium, that explains it :thumbup: Yeah 230 seems about on par with most top schools.
     
  41. Wahina

    Wahina Senior Member
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    Has anyone else noticed how everyone loves to hate on Harvard. At more than a couple interviews I've been to, tour guides or other med students have talked about how Harvard doesn't prepare students for residencies and their board scores aren't that good, etc. It's just so lame to me because everyone knows that if those same students had been accepted to Harvard, they would have gone. I'm not saying it's bad to be proud of your school, but why do they try to bring Harvard down?
     
  42. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a
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    Thanks Mateo. Will Harvard require you to take a Kaplan course for Step 1?
     
  43. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    Based on stats comparing # accepted to # matriculated I'm guessing about 80 or so people a year chose another school over Harvard. Otherwise I agree, people shouldn't really hate on other medical schools unless they have been a student there and transferred (thus being able to provide a valid comparison of two schools).
     
  44. Mateodaspy

    Mateodaspy Senior Member
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    no, harvard has no such requirement....
     
  45. 06applicant

    06applicant Senior Member
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    Their yield is great, especially considering they don't even give merit scholarships like many other "top" schools.

    People look silly hating on Harvard; it's at the top of virtually every great applicant's list. In my opinion it just reveals a lot of jealously. You don’t see Harvard students hating on other schools.
     
  46. Wahina

    Wahina Senior Member
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    That's the other thing I was going to say. Nobody at Harvard had anything bad to say about other schools. I heard good things about several other programs when asking students during lunch. Maybe part of it is that people expect Harvard grads to be superhuman or something and then when they are just regular people they are disappointed. But I have honestly never heard a positive response from anyone when Harvard is mentioned, except for one interviewer at my state school who said it would give you an advantage to get a position at a well known school. (He randomly brought it up, I didn't mention it)
     
  47. argonana

    argonana SDN Donor
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    Would you happen to remember what the other top 3-4 schools were?
     
  48. OwnageMobile

    OwnageMobile is just a moniker.
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    http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/research/bibliography/start.htm
     
  49. RustNeverSleeps

    RustNeverSleeps Walker, Texas Ranger
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    Maybe I didn't understand your post completely, but I'm still not sure where the numbers came from. You said that Ivies have agree to share their average board scores, but that you saw the rankings of the Board scores for the other schools in the top 10? I believe that there are only 3 Ivies are in the top ten, and one of them is of course Harvard. How did Harvard get the data about the remained of the top 10 schools?
     
  50. foo

    foo Junior Member
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    Did they compare USMLE I scores between the two different programs st Harvard? How does HST compare with NP?
     
  51. Einsteinemc2

    Einsteinemc2 Member
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    well I'm glad my post has validity now that an HMSer replied. My friend told me that the dean told them that NP and HST were "the same." That's all they were told though.
     

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