Oct 30, 2013
I haven't taken a practice NBME yet and my test is in 4 days. Should I take a practice exam to gauge my potential score or should I not risk a blow to my confidence so close to the real deal? I'm generally a pretty anxious test taker. I've been averaging about 65% on UWORLD first pass if that means anything.
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Jul 13, 2016
Medical Student
Yes, if you are ready to delay your exam - in case your NBME comes out to be below your target score.

If you are not going to delay the exam regardless, then there is no point in taking an assessment so close to the exam date.
May 18, 2013
Medical Student
I took a practice test about a month ago and barely passed. But it's not possible to delay my exam anymore without delaying graduation.
I am sorry that you are in this challenging position. I promise that many people have found themselves in this position as well, so you're not alone in this experience. You've had a hard time, and I empathize with the complicated feelings that this situation can breed. I'll offer personal and practical words, as it's likely you need both at this point where you're currently at.

To begin, it's important that you allow yourself to be rational enough to realistically remind yourself of what your goals and priorities are as a medical student and future physician. Do you absolutely need a 240+, or could you do what you wanted with a 200+ if you just apply intelligently come time for the match? There are multiple options here for someone who has been struggling, none of which are taboo as long as you make your decisions for the right reasons. What are the right reasons? Professional reasons aren't nearly as important as personal ones here. In whatever you do, uphold good personal health, be proactive and honest with yourself and others about how you are doing personally and be gentle with yourself. The more you slack in personal health, the more it will contaminate everything else, including performance.

The only thing to be careful about is to not let pure primal fear dictate your decision making entirely. Step 1 is perhaps the most stressful period in most people's young lives (average age ~25). We're all nervous, and even still, a majority of us are afraid, but if fear is ever our primary decision maker, then that's unhealthy and sets a bad precedent for future decision making. If you think of life as a big horned bull, then life is often best grabbed by the horns and manhandled, even if you get gashed a few times by those big horns. It's important to make a decision that won't be utterly foolish and therefore kill you; however, don't be afraid of accumulating some scars from tough situations that can't be perfectly solved. Scars breed character.

I am not encouraging you to delay, but perhaps reassuring you that it doesn't make you shameful or a bad person to delay or even wait will help relieve your anxiety enough to grant clarity and therefore make a decision that is best for you and your overall wellbeing. To give perspective: many people never feel ready enough. "1 more day" "1 more day" "1 more day". And a $500 later from rescheduling 5x 1 day before the test each time, you eventually just have to wrestle the damn bull, take your gashes and walk away proud.

Practically speaking, a lot happens for most people in one month of raw, even remotely efficient, boards studying. I know that in 1 month, I went up by ~25-30 points on my practices. It's important not to psych yourself out and diminish your efforts. Only you truly know how your health has been and how vigilant and proactive you have been in remaining focused on the task and preparing adequately. If you feel that since your last practice exam you have been hitting it hard and effectively, taking the exam this week is likely a fine decision and passing shouldn't be an issue. If you have been having problems, for whatever reason, be honest with yourself--and be honest with your school and their support faculty to come to the right decision for you. If you are paralyzed and in limbo between "do" and "do not", then taking a practice can be the decision maker. Just don't expect a 240+. Your goal should be to be "good enough", not "the best in your class" or "flawless".

This is a moment that will contribute to defining you as a person and will set the stage for how you handle substantial challenges for the rest of your life. Your score, however, will NOT be what defines you as a person and Doctor. You have been fighting hard for a long time now and have earned the ability to be proud of yourself no matter what. Courage at other times looks like humility and making decisions that are for your health and wellbeing despite their temporary discomfort and feeling disappointed. Courage also sometimes looks like hyping yourself the hell up, jumping in the ring with the bull, especially when you're terrified and fighting the beast even if you acquire some scars in the process. Make good decisions for your current and future self. Don't be afraid to get gashed though. The wounds will heal, and scars are badass.

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