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Oct 8, 2007
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Hi everyone,
I just got my NBME comprehensive basic science examination back and my score was very disheartening. I got a 59, which is equivalent to low 170's. I'm just looking at some advise and maybe some encouragement because I need to raise that to around a 220 to be competitive for the specialties I'm considering. Any examples of people out there who did as bad as I did and did ok?? I have less than 2 weeks left of school and 6 weeks and 4 days of dedicated study time. Oddly enough I'm an above average student normally scoring in the 90 percent range.... which is probably .5 SD above average, but I almost hit 1 SD below average on this practice test. Do you think I should postpone my exam and start on my second clinical rotation?

Just looking for some advice, and sorry for the shotgun approach but i'm in an anxious state.



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May 30, 2007
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A lot of people make big improvements over the course of their study period. You'll find lots of examples if you search through the history on this forum. A 50-point increase is not unusual if your starting point is in the 170s.


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May 5, 2009
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Don't be disheartened. If you're scoring in the 90s pretty consistently, it may very well be an unfortunate chain of questions that sidestepped your knowledge base. I wouldn't go putting half a day into another NBME, though. Fluke or not, use this as encouragement to buckle down and study your ass off. Eight weeks is quite a bit of time to pull your scores up, and if you browse through the USMLE experience thread and look at trends, you'll see some huge improvements pre- and post-dedicated study period. Personally, I pulled my score up from an 187 to a 248, but I took longer than that to prepare.

This brings us to your next question of whether or not to postpone. As I don't know all the details of your life and your rotations in the next few months, nor of the potential consequences of waiting expressed by your school, I can only advise you to weigh the pros against the cons. Postponing paid off for me, and it may pay off for you, especially if you are considering specialties that emphasize high scores.

Best of luck in your decision.
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