Shelf Exam Woes

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by leagueelbow, May 9, 2008.

  1. leagueelbow

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    I can't explain it. I was an outstanding test taker as an MS1, MS2, and even during Step 1. And then MS3 hit and I either got dumber or the tests are getting a lot harder.

    I actually started out pretty decently but slowly and surely, my shelf scores are dropping. I'm now barely scraping by with mid 70's and low 80's. (70 is passing for us)

    The question then becomes: is this a big deal when it comes to the residency application process? (I'm not 100% decided yet but I'm picking between some fairly competitive fields. With possibly derm in the running too. :eek:)

    The numerical scores do make it to our transcripts. But they do little in the way of effecting our overall clinical grades. (At last check, it was still 80% clinical, 20% shelf)
     
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  3. muscles

    muscles student of the month

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    I know the feeling buddy.
    My shelf scores were usually 10-15 percentage points lower than my year 1-2 test scores. Fortunately for us, the shelf scores are not included in our MSPE (dean's letter); the only clerkship scores that are recorded are the overall grades.

    For internal medicine, I don't think they are too important. I was never asked about shelf scores. For the more competitive residencies, I'm not so sure...
     
  4. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    More likely the lack of prep time and sleep, and the different format of the test (more of a time crunch than during prior two years) has taken its toll. The numbers matter less than the evaluations.
     
  5. leagueelbow

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    Phew...thanks for the reassurance.

    Still I'd like to end the year on a good note. Guess it's back to studying in the library to see if I can take a shelf without having to worry about passing. Let alone getting honors.
     
  6. muscles

    muscles student of the month

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    I have some friends in 3rd year who are using USMLEWorld for shelf preparation and are doing very well. You may consider that...

    I wish I would have thought of it last year.
     
  7. leagueelbow

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    Oh sweet. I'm assuming they're using the Step 2 CK USMLEWorld?

    I had used it for Step 1 and found it quite helpful as well.
     
  8. Arctic Char

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    for the record - i just took my FM Shelf and it flat out sucked. hardest shelf of med school. it was that annoying kind of exam where you know exactly what the vignette was talking about, you knew what was going on, but the answer choices either screw with your head, or you just can't seem to remember the exact order of X, Y, or Z . . . ugh!
     
  9. leagueelbow

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    The one I just got back was my surgery shelf. That was an abysmal experience.

    With peds next, I've heard that that shelf is even worse. Oh god.
     
  10. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Wow- I guess my school prepares us differently for the shelf exams than others. I thought family and peds were the easiest and medicine the hardest (with neuro and psych left in a few weeks).

    I have used USMLEWORLD for some of the rotations. The questions are helpful but I agree with posters, the questions are longer than the previous 2 years so reading time may be affecting performance.
     
  11. XoQo

    XoQo PGY1 Retractor

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    I think the biggest obstacle (from my own experience) is not reading enough during the clerkship. Ideally, you should be completing all of PreTest for the clerkship as well as going thru a review book/minitext book for that specialty. Bug your 4th year colleagues for what they liked. The key is to be learning at home at least 30 minutes a day. This adds up incredibly well and helps scores.

    You do learn a lot during the clerkship by participating in patient care -- but you need the book learning too. Pretest is a great way to learn if you're tired. Maybe do your reading early in the morning or during lunch. Then pretest questions at night because its more active.

    Time management during the exam is obviously important (i.e. if you are doing poorly because you had to leave the last 10 questions with B bubbled in) then those are points you can pick up.


    As for how it might affect you for residency -- it depends mainly on how the shelf exam affected your clerkship grade and/or MSPE blurb...

    not much you can do about it at this point -- focus instead on your remaining clerkships and go from there.



    good luck!
     
  12. MrBurns10

    MrBurns10 Excellent, Smithers
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    I've heard very mixed things about pretest. I've really liked Case Files and have used that as my only source of practice questions for most rotations so far (except I also used uwise for ob/gyn). Medicine is the only one that I'd say it probably wasn't sufficient, but the shelf was only worth 10% of our grade so I didn't want to kill myself studying for it.
     
  13. XoQo

    XoQo PGY1 Retractor

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    I'll retract my statement and substitute instead:

    "You should ideally be completing a question source (pretest, casefiles, etc)...."


    :)
     
  14. Dr McSteamy

    Dr McSteamy sh*tting in your backyard

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    i hate the shelfs.

    it seems you can't read enough to prepare

    they always pull a LOT out of their *** which you haven't seen before.

    wtf, how are you supposed to answer those?!
    they need answer choice
    (F) Never seen this shhh in my life!!
     
  15. MrBurns10

    MrBurns10 Excellent, Smithers
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    I love how the last few questions are always answer options a-t. It's like, I'm going to be guessing anyway, why not just make it statistically less likely I'll guess correctly.
     
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  17. Shades McCool

    Shades McCool Kal-el

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    Speaking of shelf exams, neurology is tomorrow!
     
  18. cleansocks

    cleansocks Junior Member

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    I decided I wanted to see if anyone else was experiencing this so I did a quick search and this turns out to be the first result! I am experiencing the EXACT same thing - those very scores with a history of much better exam results and very high step 1.

    I find it especially strange because I usually mark about 15 Q's that I'm unsure of, and usually have time to go back and ponder them. Yet I end up with between 75 and 80! So I must be guessing poorly AND getting a bunch of questions I'm "quite sure about" dead wrong!

    Maybe we're not erasing thoroughly enough! It's all about selecting the right rubber. Or maybe there's some other med students with our names and they're mixing up our tests =).
     
  19. sunsweet

    sunsweet Senior Member

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    I'm in the same boat, and thought you guys would be best to ask this question to -- any recommendations on when to take step2? not sure if this is true, but I heard that step2 is more like the shelf exams. Since it seems like the ppl on this thread did well on step1 but aren't doing so great on shelf exams, what do you think our step2 score would be like?
     
  20. eforest

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    I have the same problem- I think I'm going to do worse on Step 2 than Step 1. I find the shelf exams next to impossible, and this is after doing pretty well the first two years and well on Step 1. I'm trying to figure out how to best prepare for the test.
     
  21. sharon333

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    I had my issues int he past with the test. I think the biggest thing for me was to relax and trust in myself.
     
  22. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Okay- finished the neuro and psych shelf exams last week and thought that they were the worst of the year (particularly psych).

    To the OP, you need a 70 to pass? Is that 70 questions right out of 100 or a 70th percentile on the shelf exam (in which case you and your classmates would be doing better 20 percentile points than the average student taking the test). In many cases, 70/100 questions will be above the 50th percentile.

    Our school requires a minimum of 45th percentile to be considered for pass with commendation and 70th percentile to be considered for honors. This in keeping with the national percentiles and USMLE scores. I still think it stinks for students who are not great test takers but who know their stuff on the wards.
     
  23. leagueelbow

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    I'm fairly certain it's 70 questions out of 100 to pass. To get honors, it's more of a clinical nomination than a shelf percentage.

    As far as shelfs go, I actually thought psych was the easiest one. Actually got more than 90 questions right.

    The rest have all been hovering around 75-80 with my latest shelf (surgery) clocking in at 71 questions correct.
     
  24. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Wow 71/100- that was cutting it close if you need 70/100. I guess that system is not bad if you do not have cut-offs for grades with percentiles. It will raise the bar for minimum competence (probably above the national average in most subjects).
     
  25. OnMyWayThere

    OnMyWayThere OMS-III

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    My school gives 2 NBME shelfs in one day every 3 months and I just pray every quarter that I pass at least one, let alone both... Next week: IM and Psych :thumbdown:
     
  26. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    I did the two in one day- psych and neuro. THat was decidely not fun.:cool:
     

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