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My Step III Experience

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MedStuC

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Just wanted to post my exam experience because I have always found it helpful when others did so.

Background:
I'm a prelim-medicine intern going into PM&R next yr. Step I in the low 200's. Step 2 CK in the high 230's-low 240's. Step 2 CS pass all on the first attempt. Overall definitely not a genius.

Study method:
I studied for about 4 weeks while I was on a gen med rotation. It was an awful idea. I would recommend scheduling it at the end of an easy rotation (ie clinic, consult month, etc) so that you ensure you have adequate study time. I chose not to because I'm getting married this summer and I wanted to get the exam out of the way early in order to have my winter and spring free to help my fiancee plan. I just ended up having to sacrifice sleep for a while.

In any event, I bought Master the Boards and rarely used it, if at all. Overall, I would say that you don't need it. Doing the UWorld qbank was plenty for me. I would have liked to have gotten through the entire qbank, but due to time constraints, I only got through about 2/3 of the questions. Typically did blocks of 10 questions, random, in untimed mode. I didn't really read over the ones I got right, just made sure to read the explanation for all the questions I answered incorrectly (as well as correct answers where I wasn't sure what the answer was). My overall percentage correct was about 62%.

The first 3 weeks of prep consisted of trying to do as many questions as possible without burning out too hard. The last week I still did some questions here and there, but for the most part, I spent it getting familiar with the CCS software and completing those CCS UWorld cases. THESE ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. I can't stress that enough. You don't need anything other than this to adequately prepare for CCS. I did all of the cases twice and I was more than prepared for the real deal.

I took the NBME form 4 practice exam 1 week out and got a 370. Not sure what that means because they don't convert it into a 3-digit score estimate. However, I read on some forum somewhere that you should be scoring above 400 in order to comfortably pass the real thing so then I panicked and had a mild-freakout that drove me to ratchet up my studying. 2 days before the real exam, I took the UWorld sim exam and got like a 210ish or something? Not great, but at least was passing, so that made me feel a little better.

I barely looked at biostats while I was studying because it's one of those subjects that I just can't seem to keep straight in my head for longer than a few days at a time. Because of this, I just waited and then memorized all of the formulas the night before my exam (NNT, PPV, ARR, RR, etc).

Test day experience:
On day 1, I thought that the questions were rough, but manageable. I did find that the question stems were a little longer on the real exam than they were in UWorld, so I usually found myself finishing each section right before time expired without much more than a few seconds to go back and check my work. Lots of biostats that was relatively straight forward, and a few drug adds some of which I thought were reasonable and others where I had no idea what I was reading. Overall, I remember leaving the first day thinking "meh... wasn't too bad... not sure why everyone was complaining about it."

On day 2, however, I was absolutely MISERABLE. No biostats or drug ads on this day. The questions were seemingly more straightforward, however, I felt like every single question had like 2 or 3 reasonable answers. I would make sure that you know the guidelines for treatment of common diseases as well as how to risk stratify someone with multiple risk factors for a certain condition. I finished those question sets and distinctly remember feeling like I bombed that section.

CCS was a breeze. All of the cases were relatively common stuff. I messed up the first case by accidentally advancing the clock much farther than I wanted to and the guy got sicker, and then I messed up the second case because of a similar issue (nerves, I guess... plus being upset about how awful I felt about the multiple choice questions I had just finished). But after that I was able to settle down and get through the remainder of the cases quickly and without issue. I felt like I knew what was going on the entire time, but I was afraid that the two mistakes I made early on would cost me. All in all, day 2 felt horrible for me. I left with absolutely NO perception of how well (or poorly) I did.

Score:
I took the exam 10/22/15 and 10/23/15. Just got my score report at midnight today (11/11/15) so a little less than 3 weeks. I scored in the mid-220's, a good 15 points higher than what my Uworld practice exam predicted. Overall, I didn't get as much prep in as most other people, I probably freaked out way more than I needed to, but I passed comfortably and I never have to sit for another Step exam in my entire life!

I hope that others find this post helpful. I tried to hit all the things that I wanted to know when looking at people's Step 3 posts while I was prepping. Please feel free to ask any questions. Good luck, guys!
 
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This is good to hear. I had the same experience with day 2 questions... like, I'd recognize what condition the patient has, and I know how to treat it, but the question would be about long term complications of the disease and none of the options were things that I learned about it. So many questions about things that I'm 100% sure I never learned in school. So much guessing. Ugh. Here's to hoping I passed too.
 

MedStuC

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This is good to hear. I had the same experience with day 2 questions... like, I'd recognize what condition the patient has, and I know how to treat it, but the question would be about long term complications of the disease and none of the options were things that I learned about it. So many questions about things that I'm 100% sure I never learned in school. So much guessing. Ugh. Here's to hoping I passed too.
Tell me about it. It's so frustrating. I'm betting you did just find, though. When are you expecting your score back? Make sure to update us and let us know how it went! I think that it's good for other people to look on here and see that we all felt similarly afterwards and that things turned out ok for us in the end.

This is nice to read, good job man. Congrats on being done!
Thanks, Boss! Glad you found it helpful. Hoping other people will as well.
 
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