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USMLE I finally passed! after failing 3 times

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MsDcDoc

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I am writing this post to hopefully give some encouragement/advice to anyone struggling with passing this exam. I realize that each person may have different barriers to passing this exam, but I will share my experience. Im currently a 3rd year pediatric resident. I didn't have the highest grades in medical school. I passed the majority of my classes and graduated but I had my share of hiccups along the way. However, I passed Step 1 with a 191 (barely above the passing score at that time); Step 2 with a 214; and Step 2 CS all on the first attempt. I had my first child in the middle of intern year but I full time help at home from my aunt. Nevertheless I still found it difficult to come home after working hours and study for step 3 because I felt obligated to give my aunt a break. My other pitfall was listening to others conversation about the exam. I heard several people say that they studied for a short period of time and only did uworld questions. With minimal preparation they were able to pass comfortably. I assumed it would be no different for me. I did my first attempt the beginning of my second year while I was on inpatient peds night float rotation. That was a terrible rotation to study on for obvious reasons plus add trying to spend time with my child it was a disaster. But at my program you get about 5 days off in a row during that rotation so scheduling wise that was the best time to take it. I did about 60% of uworld, skimmed master the boards and the Uworld CCS cases here and there. I was scoring like 60% average on U world. Took the exam and while I thought it was difficult I also thought all the Steps were difficult, so I figured I would pass. After the exam we all do this self reflection and I realized I pretty much bombed biostats and the CCS was new to me but I didn't think that would be enough for me to fail. Weeks later I get my score and I failed with a 180. I was shocked but not surprised. I knew I had not studied to my fullest potential, didn't really know much about the format of the exam, and admittedly there were some holes in my foundation of knowledge. The downside of that was that while I waited for my score I wasn't studying and now I needed to retake it soon because of the policy for Step exams in residency. I did not take it right away though, I actually took it 7 months later during my vacation. You would think 7 months would be more than enough time to prepare but for me it wasn't enough. I was still on extremely difficult rotations back to back and what little free time I did have I unmotivated to study; I wasted so much time and money renewing the Uworld qbank. I was again studying bare minimum. I don't know if I was in denial or what but the fire for me to go hard wasn't lit. I did do a little more Uworld than I did the first time and the rotations I completed jogged my memory of those bread and butter concepts we learn in medical school. So I attempted to take the exam again. Weeks later failed with 188. My problem was the MCQ's and I was just doing borderline on CCS. At this point I was panicked. My program director was asking for my scores and it was definitely difficult to tell her I failed a second time. I sat down and had a meeting with her and decided I needed to take a leave of absence to have dedicated study time without the time constraints of being on rotation; so I took off for 4 weeks. I studied at home every day for about 4 hrs on average with frequent breaks to tend to my child or due to getting sleepy. This time I went through all of master the boards once, took detailed notes, and again attempted to do Uworld (still didn't complete the whole qbank), and the last week before I took the exam I watched youtube videos to try my best to grasp biostats. I still was not that confident but I tried to stay positive so I attempted to take the exam a 3rd time. At this point I had read all the forums about people that failed and there experiences. I did implement some of there advice to my study plan. But I was seeing people say they went through MTB and UWorld 2 times or more (kudos to them) and I knew that wasn't realistic for me I could barely get through once. 3rd I attempt I was a lot more anxious while taking the exam but I powered through. Once again, I get my score 191 (5 points away form passing). At this point I was very frustrated. I knew I wasn't studying as much as i possibly could in 24 hours or with the same intensity as I did while in med school but I apparently there were people doing less than I was and passing. What was I doing wrong? I was discouraged but determined to pass this test. This time I sought out a prep program because obviously trying to study on my own was not working. My program director told me about the STAT program but I could not find many reviews on people that actually took it. At this point i was about to give birth to my second child. I held off til he was born but ultimately decided on the online Premier Review course. I was apprehensive to pay for it at first but what the hell I had at this point spent thousands of dollars and was getting no where. They sent me the binder which covered everything you needed to know for each subject. It was much more detailed than MTB. If you follow the schedule they give verbatim you should finish in 1 week, but it took me longer. The videos basically covered the material in the book but the stories and extra tid bits of info helped me to retain the information. The owner of the program called me once and asked me how things were going. His advice to me was to do CCS cases everyday, do questions from a qbank, read the USPSTF guidelines (its like 2 pages) everyday, and take NBME practice test ( i did two and reviewed all the answers). I did all of those things and this time finished the Qbank and repeated the questions I did wrong. I feel like the biggest advantage to the program were there tips on CCS. It was little things like how much of the physical exam you do when you're in the ER vs an office, how to advance the clock, when to discharge people and have them followup etc. After the course I realized I had no idea what I was doing on CCS the first 3 times and I was still scoring borderline, so surely I was going to kill it this time. For biostats I did the Uworld questions (it was painful). The more I did the more I recognized concepts that were repeated but just worded differently. I need biostats broken down to me in the simplest terms possible. I found the youtube videos by MedNStats Reviews For Boards very helpful. The fourth time I took the test I also booked the 2 days a week apart, which allowed me to study in between. This time I could tell I was doing better. I answered all the questions in the allotted time, whereas before there would always be 1-2 sections where I would run out of time and not even get to answer 3-4 questions. There were a few questions that had the same image as a similar question on NBME so I didn't have to waist time racking my brain on what the diagnosis was. Got my score this time it was 214. This is a long post but I say all to hopefully prevent someone from waisting as much time and money as I did on this exam. With just a little guidance and effort I was able to pass. In summary, 1. sign up for a review program 2. Do the CCS cases 3. Finish the Qbank 5. Do the NBMES 5. Schedule the test a week apart. Hope this helps someone.
 
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keepingatit

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Hey,
Massive props for posting, Im facing a very similar situation, Id love get some of your advice if you have
time please let me know
Emilia
 
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Unty

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I passed after 6 attempts and got a 7th attempt after I complained the CCS software was slow during my 6th attempt!!!

Worst time of my life. Now I am a fellow. The saying "Never give up" is so true.
 
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sickle4me

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I am writing this post to hopefully give some encouragement/advice to anyone struggling with passing this exam. I realize that each person may have different barriers to passing this exam, but I will share my experience. Im currently a 3rd year pediatric resident. I didn't have the highest grades in medical school. I passed the majority of my classes and graduated but I had my share of hiccups along the way. However, I passed Step 1 with a 191 (barely above the passing score at that time); Step 2 with a 214; and Step 2 CS all on the first attempt. I had my first child in the middle of intern year but I full time help at home from my aunt. Nevertheless I still found it difficult to come home after working hours and study for step 3 because I felt obligated to give my aunt a break. My other pitfall was listening to others conversation about the exam. I heard several people say that they studied for a short period of time and only did uworld questions. With minimal preparation they were able to pass comfortably. I assumed it would be no different for me. I did my first attempt the beginning of my second year while I was on inpatient peds night float rotation. That was a terrible rotation to study on for obvious reasons plus add trying to spend time with my child it was a disaster. But at my program you get about 5 days off in a row during that rotation so scheduling wise that was the best time to take it. I did about 60% of uworld, skimmed master the boards and the Uworld CCS cases here and there. I was scoring like 60% average on U world. Took the exam and while I thought it was difficult I also thought all the Steps were difficult, so I figured I would pass. After the exam we all do this self reflection and I realized I pretty much bombed biostats and the CCS was new to me but I didn't think that would be enough for me to fail. Weeks later I get my score and I failed with a 180. I was shocked but not surprised. I knew I had not studied to my fullest potential, didn't really know much about the format of the exam, and admittedly there were some holes in my foundation of knowledge. The downside of that was that while I waited for my score I wasn't studying and now I needed to retake it soon because of the policy for Step exams in residency. I did not take it right away though, I actually took it 7 months later during my vacation. You would think 7 months would be more than enough time to prepare but for me it wasn't enough. I was still on extremely difficult rotations back to back and what little free time I did have I unmotivated to study; I wasted so much time and money renewing the Uworld qbank. I was again studying bare minimum. I don't know if I was in denial or what but the fire for me to go hard wasn't lit. I did do a little more Uworld than I did the first time and the rotations I completed jogged my memory of those bread and butter concepts we learn in medical school. So I attempted to take the exam again. Weeks later failed with 188. My problem was the MCQ's and I was just doing borderline on CCS. At this point I was panicked. My program director was asking for my scores and it was definitely difficult to tell her I failed a second time. I sat down and had a meeting with her and decided I needed to take a leave of absence to have dedicated study time without the time constraints of being on rotation; so I took off for 4 weeks. I studied at home every day for about 4 hrs on average with frequent breaks to tend to my child or due to getting sleepy. This time I went through all of master the boards once, took detailed notes, and again attempted to do Uworld (still didn't complete the whole qbank), and the last week before I took the exam I watched youtube videos to try my best to grasp biostats. I still was not that confident but I tried to stay positive so I attempted to take the exam a 3rd time. At this point I had read all the forums about people that failed and there experiences. I did implement some of there advice to my study plan. But I was seeing people say they went through MTB and UWorld 2 times or more (kudos to them) and I knew that wasn't realistic for me I could barely get through once. 3rd I attempt I was a lot more anxious while taking the exam but I powered through. Once again, I get my score 191 (5 points away form passing). At this point I was very frustrated. I knew I wasn't studying as much as i possibly could in 24 hours or with the same intensity as I did while in med school but I apparently there were people doing less than I was and passing. What was I doing wrong? I was discouraged but determined to pass this test. This time I sought out a prep program because obviously trying to study on my own was not working. My program director told me about the STAT program but I could not find many reviews on people that actually took it. At this point i was about to give birth to my second child. I held off til he was born but ultimately decided on the online Premier Review course. I was apprehensive to pay for it at first but what the hell I had at this point spent thousands of dollars and was getting no where. They sent me the binder which covered everything you needed to know for each subject. It was much more detailed than MTB. If you follow the schedule they give verbatim you should finish in 1 week, but it took me longer. The videos basically covered the material in the book but the stories and extra tid bits of info helped me to retain the information. The owner of the program called me once and asked me how things were going. His advice to me was to do CCS cases everyday, do questions from a qbank, read the USPSTF guidelines (its like 2 pages) everyday, and take NBME practice test ( i did two and reviewed all the answers). I did all of those things and this time finished the Qbank and repeated the questions I did wrong. I feel like the biggest advantage to the program were there tips on CCS. It was little things like how much of the physical exam you do when you're in the ER vs an office, how to advance the clock, when to discharge people and have them followup etc. After the course I realized I had no idea what I was doing on CCS the first 3 times and I was still scoring borderline, so surely I was going to kill it this time. For biostats I did the Uworld questions (it was painful). The more I did the more I recognized concepts that were repeated but just worded differently. I need biostats broken down to me in the simplest terms possible. I found the youtube videos by MedNStats Reviews For Boards very helpful. The fourth time I took the test I also booked the 2 days a week apart, which allowed me to study in between. This time I could tell I was doing better. I answered all the questions in the allotted time, whereas before there would always be 1-2 sections where I would run out of time and not even get to answer 3-4 questions. There were a few questions that had the same image as a similar question on NBME so I didn't have to waist time racking my brain on what the diagnosis was. Got my score this time it was 214. This is a long post but I say all to hopefully prevent someone from waisting as much time and money as I did on this exam. With just a little guidance and effort I was able to pass. In summary, 1. sign up for a review program 2. Do the CCS cases 3. Finish the Qbank 5. Do the NBMES 5. Schedule the test a week apart. Hope this helps someone.[/QUOTE
I am writing this post to hopefully give some encouragement/advice to anyone struggling with passing this exam. I realize that each person may have different barriers to passing this exam, but I will share my experience. Im currently a 3rd year pediatric resident. I didn't have the highest grades in medical school. I passed the majority of my classes and graduated but I had my share of hiccups along the way. However, I passed Step 1 with a 191 (barely above the passing score at that time); Step 2 with a 214; and Step 2 CS all on the first attempt. I had my first child in the middle of intern year but I full time help at home from my aunt. Nevertheless I still found it difficult to come home after working hours and study for step 3 because I felt obligated to give my aunt a break. My other pitfall was listening to others conversation about the exam. I heard several people say that they studied for a short period of time and only did uworld questions. With minimal preparation they were able to pass comfortably. I assumed it would be no different for me. I did my first attempt the beginning of my second year while I was on inpatient peds night float rotation. That was a terrible rotation to study on for obvious reasons plus add trying to spend time with my child it was a disaster. But at my program you get about 5 days off in a row during that rotation so scheduling wise that was the best time to take it. I did about 60% of uworld, skimmed master the boards and the Uworld CCS cases here and there. I was scoring like 60% average on U world. Took the exam and while I thought it was difficult I also thought all the Steps were difficult, so I figured I would pass. After the exam we all do this self reflection and I realized I pretty much bombed biostats and the CCS was new to me but I didn't think that would be enough for me to fail. Weeks later I get my score and I failed with a 180. I was shocked but not surprised. I knew I had not studied to my fullest potential, didn't really know much about the format of the exam, and admittedly there were some holes in my foundation of knowledge. The downside of that was that while I waited for my score I wasn't studying and now I needed to retake it soon because of the policy for Step exams in residency. I did not take it right away though, I actually took it 7 months later during my vacation. You would think 7 months would be more than enough time to prepare but for me it wasn't enough. I was still on extremely difficult rotations back to back and what little free time I did have I unmotivated to study; I wasted so much time and money renewing the Uworld qbank. I was again studying bare minimum. I don't know if I was in denial or what but the fire for me to go hard wasn't lit. I did do a little more Uworld than I did the first time and the rotations I completed jogged my memory of those bread and butter concepts we learn in medical school. So I attempted to take the exam again. Weeks later failed with 188. My problem was the MCQ's and I was just doing borderline on CCS. At this point I was panicked. My program director was asking for my scores and it was definitely difficult to tell her I failed a second time. I sat down and had a meeting with her and decided I needed to take a leave of absence to have dedicated study time without the time constraints of being on rotation; so I took off for 4 weeks. I studied at home every day for about 4 hrs on average with frequent breaks to tend to my child or due to getting sleepy. This time I went through all of master the boards once, took detailed notes, and again attempted to do Uworld (still didn't complete the whole qbank), and the last week before I took the exam I watched youtube videos to try my best to grasp biostats. I still was not that confident but I tried to stay positive so I attempted to take the exam a 3rd time. At this point I had read all the forums about people that failed and there experiences. I did implement some of there advice to my study plan. But I was seeing people say they went through MTB and UWorld 2 times or more (kudos to them) and I knew that wasn't realistic for me I could barely get through once. 3rd I attempt I was a lot more anxious while taking the exam but I powered through. Once again, I get my score 191 (5 points away form passing). At this point I was very frustrated. I knew I wasn't studying as much as i possibly could in 24 hours or with the same intensity as I did while in med school but I apparently there were people doing less than I was and passing. What was I doing wrong? I was discouraged but determined to pass this test. This time I sought out a prep program because obviously trying to study on my own was not working. My program director told me about the STAT program but I could not find many reviews on people that actually took it. At this point i was about to give birth to my second child. I held off til he was born but ultimately decided on the online Premier Review course. I was apprehensive to pay for it at first but what the hell I had at this point spent thousands of dollars and was getting no where. They sent me the binder which covered everything you needed to know for each subject. It was much more detailed than MTB. If you follow the schedule they give verbatim you should finish in 1 week, but it took me longer. The videos basically covered the material in the book but the stories and extra tid bits of info helped me to retain the information. The owner of the program called me once and asked me how things were going. His advice to me was to do CCS cases everyday, do questions from a qbank, read the USPSTF guidelines (its like 2 pages) everyday, and take NBME practice test ( i did two and reviewed all the answers). I did all of those things and this time finished the Qbank and repeated the questions I did wrong. I feel like the biggest advantage to the program were there tips on CCS. It was little things like how much of the physical exam you do when you're in the ER vs an office, how to advance the clock, when to discharge people and have them followup etc. After the course I realized I had no idea what I was doing on CCS the first 3 times and I was still scoring borderline, so surely I was going to kill it this time. For biostats I did the Uworld questions (it was painful). The more I did the more I recognized concepts that were repeated but just worded differently. I need biostats broken down to me in the simplest terms possible. I found the youtube videos by MedNStats Reviews For Boards very helpful. The fourth time I took the test I also booked the 2 days a week apart, which allowed me to study in between. This time I could tell I was doing better. I answered all the questions in the allotted time, whereas before there would always be 1-2 sections where I would run out of time and not even get to answer 3-4 questions. There were a few questions that had the same image as a similar question on NBME so I didn't have to waist time racking my brain on what the diagnosis was. Got my score this time it was 214. This is a long post but I say all to hopefully prevent someone from waisting as much time and money as I did on this exam. With just a little guidance and effort I was able to pass. In summary, 1. sign up for a review program 2. Do the CCS cases 3. Finish the Qbank 5. Do the NBMES 5. Schedule the test a week apart. Hope this helps someone.
Thank you so much for posting this
I took it twice already, preparing for the third one.
first attempt: 187, second attempt 194, for both i only used UW and CCS (biostat for first time but not second)
currently scheduled for the third one in april. using UW, MTB, and CCS (for mac/pc), Bio stat review.
i took the UWSA form 1: 180, nmbe 5 : 260, will continue to test each week
How do you advice? reschedule or continue with prep.
 

sickle4me

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I passed after 6 attempts and got a 7th attempt after I complained the CCS software was slow during my 6th attempt!!!

Worst time of my life. Now I am a fellow. The saying "Never give up" is so true.
wow, you stayed with the program, i admire your dedication .
I dont have kids, no family obligation, so I feel horrible having to continuously retake the exam. although i also have hx of multiple retakes in my other steps, but each time is like a different level of heart break. M hopeful that the third time will be the charm for me.
 

Patho_logical

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Wow. Props to you guys for retaking so many times. Like you said, I guess you are kind of stuck if you fail it. Unless you just are ok with the debt forever.

I took it once. Just got my scores back today and passed fairly comfortably. I legitimately feel like I might’ve just quit medicine if I had failed. What a terrible exam. I hate these tests and am so glad to be done with them forever. I had to retake step 2 CS. So I had some leftover PTSD from that. My heart was racing when I opened my score report today.

For those that are struggling, I know my experience probably is a bit different from yours but I essentially did nothing but Uworld. If you get the app on your phone, you can usually do 10-20 q’s during down time in your work day. That’s really adds up. And it’s that constant repetition that will help you out on the test. You do need to read the entire question explanation. I know that’s time consuming but it’s the best way to learn it IMO. Some of it is very repetitive but like I said, repetition is the key for these things. Be consistent with your practice and you can pass it. Good luck. I just needed to vent and commiserate after getting that test behind me.
 
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olabrador23

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I am writing this post to hopefully give some encouragement/advice to anyone struggling with passing this exam. I realize that each person may have different barriers to passing this exam, but I will share my experience. Im currently a 3rd year pediatric resident. I didn't have the highest grades in medical school. I passed the majority of my classes and graduated but I had my share of hiccups along the way. However, I passed Step 1 with a 191 (barely above the passing score at that time); Step 2 with a 214; and Step 2 CS all on the first attempt. I had my first child in the middle of intern year but I full time help at home from my aunt. Nevertheless I still found it difficult to come home after working hours and study for step 3 because I felt obligated to give my aunt a break. My other pitfall was listening to others conversation about the exam. I heard several people say that they studied for a short period of time and only did uworld questions. With minimal preparation they were able to pass comfortably. I assumed it would be no different for me. I did my first attempt the beginning of my second year while I was on inpatient peds night float rotation. That was a terrible rotation to study on for obvious reasons plus add trying to spend time with my child it was a disaster. But at my program you get about 5 days off in a row during that rotation so scheduling wise that was the best time to take it. I did about 60% of uworld, skimmed master the boards and the Uworld CCS cases here and there. I was scoring like 60% average on U world. Took the exam and while I thought it was difficult I also thought all the Steps were difficult, so I figured I would pass. After the exam we all do this self reflection and I realized I pretty much bombed biostats and the CCS was new to me but I didn't think that would be enough for me to fail. Weeks later I get my score and I failed with a 180. I was shocked but not surprised. I knew I had not studied to my fullest potential, didn't really know much about the format of the exam, and admittedly there were some holes in my foundation of knowledge. The downside of that was that while I waited for my score I wasn't studying and now I needed to retake it soon because of the policy for Step exams in residency. I did not take it right away though, I actually took it 7 months later during my vacation. You would think 7 months would be more than enough time to prepare but for me it wasn't enough. I was still on extremely difficult rotations back to back and what little free time I did have I unmotivated to study; I wasted so much time and money renewing the Uworld qbank. I was again studying bare minimum. I don't know if I was in denial or what but the fire for me to go hard wasn't lit. I did do a little more Uworld than I did the first time and the rotations I completed jogged my memory of those bread and butter concepts we learn in medical school. So I attempted to take the exam again. Weeks later failed with 188. My problem was the MCQ's and I was just doing borderline on CCS. At this point I was panicked. My program director was asking for my scores and it was definitely difficult to tell her I failed a second time. I sat down and had a meeting with her and decided I needed to take a leave of absence to have dedicated study time without the time constraints of being on rotation; so I took off for 4 weeks. I studied at home every day for about 4 hrs on average with frequent breaks to tend to my child or due to getting sleepy. This time I went through all of master the boards once, took detailed notes, and again attempted to do Uworld (still didn't complete the whole qbank), and the last week before I took the exam I watched youtube videos to try my best to grasp biostats. I still was not that confident but I tried to stay positive so I attempted to take the exam a 3rd time. At this point I had read all the forums about people that failed and there experiences. I did implement some of there advice to my study plan. But I was seeing people say they went through MTB and UWorld 2 times or more (kudos to them) and I knew that wasn't realistic for me I could barely get through once. 3rd I attempt I was a lot more anxious while taking the exam but I powered through. Once again, I get my score 191 (5 points away form passing). At this point I was very frustrated. I knew I wasn't studying as much as i possibly could in 24 hours or with the same intensity as I did while in med school but I apparently there were people doing less than I was and passing. What was I doing wrong? I was discouraged but determined to pass this test. This time I sought out a prep program because obviously trying to study on my own was not working. My program director told me about the STAT program but I could not find many reviews on people that actually took it. At this point i was about to give birth to my second child. I held off til he was born but ultimately decided on the online Premier Review course. I was apprehensive to pay for it at first but what the hell I had at this point spent thousands of dollars and was getting no where. They sent me the binder which covered everything you needed to know for each subject. It was much more detailed than MTB. If you follow the schedule they give verbatim you should finish in 1 week, but it took me longer. The videos basically covered the material in the book but the stories and extra tid bits of info helped me to retain the information. The owner of the program called me once and asked me how things were going. His advice to me was to do CCS cases everyday, do questions from a qbank, read the USPSTF guidelines (its like 2 pages) everyday, and take NBME practice test ( i did two and reviewed all the answers). I did all of those things and this time finished the Qbank and repeated the questions I did wrong. I feel like the biggest advantage to the program were there tips on CCS. It was little things like how much of the physical exam you do when you're in the ER vs an office, how to advance the clock, when to discharge people and have them followup etc. After the course I realized I had no idea what I was doing on CCS the first 3 times and I was still scoring borderline, so surely I was going to kill it this time. For biostats I did the Uworld questions (it was painful). The more I did the more I recognized concepts that were repeated but just worded differently. I need biostats broken down to me in the simplest terms possible. I found the youtube videos by MedNStats Reviews For Boards very helpful. The fourth time I took the test I also booked the 2 days a week apart, which allowed me to study in between. This time I could tell I was doing better. I answered all the questions in the allotted time, whereas before there would always be 1-2 sections where I would run out of time and not even get to answer 3-4 questions. There were a few questions that had the same image as a similar question on NBME so I didn't have to waist time racking my brain on what the diagnosis was. Got my score this time it was 214. This is a long post but I say all to hopefully prevent someone from waisting as much time and money as I did on this exam. With just a little guidance and effort I was able to pass. In summary, 1. sign up for a review program 2. Do the CCS cases 3. Finish the Qbank 5. Do the NBMES 5. Schedule the test a week apart. Hope this helps someone.

Thank you for sharing your story!

question: how could you guy take the test that many times when this guy got dismissed after failing Step 1 three times? Can you guy help him out?

So long story short, I am a US md student that has failed Step 1 3 times, the last time by one point, my score was 191 and passing was 192. I go back and forth between giving up completely and asking my school to let me retake it a 4th time. I've only ever wanted FM ,maybe community IM, or Psych. Honestly if I didn't miss this damn test by 1 point I would shamelessly withdraw, but I know IMGS who have taken the test up to 5 times and they are here practicing in the US. Given the amount of debt I have, and the fact that I am a US MD, I think my school should allow me to stay enrolled until I retake, what do they have to lose???

 
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