So what's the point of NBMEs?

Discussion in 'Step I' started by cyanide12345678, 05.19.14.

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  1. cyanide12345678

    cyanide12345678 5+ Year Member

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    Other than the NBMEs being a really good assessment tool, what's the point of doing them? There are answers available online, but the reliability of some questions is somewhat iffy. There are no explanations of answers given either.

    So other than telling me where I stand in my preparation, what's the point? Am I not better off doing the uw self assessments that atleast give me explanations to answers so I can take something from the exam and learn things that I didn't know.
     
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  3. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    Test your progress, build mental stamina, get an idea of what actual questions look like on the test. It's a different style of question. Not necessarily harder, but different. Doing one of them every week forces you to get used to that style.
     
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  4. Apoplexy__

    Apoplexy__ Blood-and-thunder appearance Bronze Donor 2+ Year Member

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    Also, I think they're good for more than just pure assessment. I'm pretty sure it's only available via Extended Feedback (+$10), but you can have it tell you which ones you got wrong. So between that and the "answer keys" you find online, you know which ones you got right and wrong -- not as good as a full explanation, but certainly valuable.

    I've discovered misunderstandings, made memorable mistakes, and actually learned new things from the 5 NBME's I've done.
     
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  5. mybubbles627

    mybubbles627 ASA Member 5+ Year Member

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    How do you guys find the answer keys? The ones I have seen don't match my exams cause they will say B is the answer when that is what I put for a question and then it is wrong. It happens with many questions so I don't think my question order matches the keys.
     
  6. Brain Bucket

    Brain Bucket Oh man, I forgot to bring the marshmallows. 2+ Year Member

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  7. witzelsucht

    witzelsucht 2+ Year Member

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    For at least 10,000 years, man has relentlessly pursued the creation of knowledge and the discovery and description of the phenomena which make up our observable universe. From the intricacies of cellular mechanisms, to the physical structure of our own bodies, to the ridiculous armamentarium of pharmaceuticals we have devised to stave off the natural processes of decay and disease we are susceptible to by the very nature of our existence, man has catalogued his observations and probed the outer limits of known scientific knowledge in order to further his own well-being, and scratch the intellectual itch we all carry in our DNA to know WHY. Millions of human beings, independent living creatures with their own thoughts and dreams, hopes and fears, aspirations and failures, have given their lives to amass this incredible body of knowledge. In a mere 25 years of life, a new human can learn more about the universe than was possible in a dozen lifetimes a mere century ago. Monks spent their entire lives researching one minute area of biological science. Scribes dedicated their existence to replicating, slowly, arduously, by hand, the works of their predecessors, to preserve the knowledge that would one day lead to further discovery.

    And yet, you complain because you have to type some words into google to access literally all of the information in the known universe, essentially for free, while eating cereal in your underwear! I mean, good god! You don't even have to go to google.com! You can just type it into the search bar! And all of the known science EVER is right there!

    I mean, the NBME just outright TELLS you what they want you to know! And that's not good enough!? You just type the question stem into google and THERE IT IS! Control-F some key words into the PDFs of Goljan and FA!

    Do you have any idea what it was like to study for boards in the 1960s? Spoiler alert: it involved a lot of papercuts and ink-stained forearms. Just do the damn test and look up what you don't know! Besides you learn better from looking up instead of passively reading. Sheesh.
     
  8. YeahNoMind

    YeahNoMind 2+ Year Member

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    They had easier questions though. This lady from Kaplan came to our school to plug their qbank. One of the major points of her presentation was illustrating how much harder it is to do well now than it was 25-30 years ago. It was cake easy compared to now. All
    single jump questions
     
    Last edited: 05.19.14
  9. cyanide12345678

    cyanide12345678 5+ Year Member

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    Oh I forgot, my audience is a bunch of med students who haven't mastered the subject of economics.

    Allow me to explain. Time is a limited resource. When I allot time to one resource, I am taking away time from something else. The question isn't whether NBME is useful or not, but the question is, is it the BEST use of time? One has to consider the opportunity cost of doing all those questions with ****ty explanations. The opportunity cost is doing questions elsewhere which actually have explanations.

    And I don't know how you guys do your questions, but for me it's not good enough to just know why I got a question wrong, or why something was the right answer (which as has been pointed out, is really not that hard to figure out, and I agree :) ). But if you read uworld questions for example, each answer choice could be "potentially right" if the question was altered in a small way. And those nuances and differences are what I learn from each question that I do. So even if the question was ridiculously easy, I still review all the answer explanation, and read why the other options were wrong (which would tell me how the question could have been altered as to make those options right. And then I religiously make anki flash cards on all the new information that any explanation had). So learning from the "right" answer will be extremely easy to do, but learning from all the wrong answer choices and why they were wrong will become extremely time consuming.

    And also in response to the extremely sarcastic response regarding assessment, does knowing where you exactly stand make any difference to your exam score? Not really. Again, comes down to opportunity cost, I could spend 20 hrs and do 4 NBME's. Or I could go over all my anki flash cards in those 20 hrs which will probably help me get some extra points (and add to my score rather than just "assess" where I am).

    The only valid point I've heard so far is that NBME question style is different, which I completely agree with. That makes it worth my time to do 1 more NBME exam (I did one 2 months ago since our school made us do it. And all I got from that test was that it was a pain to find answers and explanations).
     
  10. Polymyxin

    Polymyxin 2+ Year Member

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    (well, going back to the original topic...)
    I've only done 1 NBME so far and the format was very different from UW. The percentage of easier questions was far greater than a typical UWorld block. To be honest, it messed with me bc I thought I kept missing something because the questions were so straight forward. If you're brain is only trained with UWorld, on test day you might have some unexpected recalibration to do.

    Is this a general consensus about the NBME's (I've only done one)...that they are more straigtforward (few secondary/tertiary questions)? I wonder how these three actually compare: (1) UWorld (2) NBME (3) actual test in terms of question style and percentage of difficult questions.
     
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  11. DCBFan

    DCBFan 5+ Year Member

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    A few things:
    1- with extended feedback you see the ones you got wrong and can look em up really easy.
    2- If you screenshot as you go along you can look up ones you got right but werent sure about. (technically this is probably illegal but as long as you are still paying for the NBME and only use the screenshots for your own benefit after-the-fact it doesn't seem morally wrong to me at all).
    3- gets you familiar with the feel of a usmle question, although in my opinion Uworld is pretty good at approximating the feel anyway
    4- every once in a while people post in the experiences thread that they had word-for-word repeats from nbmes... just a thought.


    In general I found them overpriced and underhelpful. Their best feature is score prediction, and if you aren't going to move your test day (many AMGs don't have much flexibility in that regard) then what good is score prediction anyway? If you only have time to do, say, three practice tests, I would do both UWSAs and pick any one recent NBME just to get a feel for the real thing.
     
  12. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    There's a thread here somewhere where people rank what they thought was hardest to easiest. I believe the common thing was that UWorld was generally considered harder than NBMEs and the actual test. UWSAs also generally considered harder than NBMEs. A few outliers thought the real thing was harder than NBME/UWSA but they could have been unlucky with their draw.
     
  13. cyanide12345678

    cyanide12345678 5+ Year Member

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    That's exactly how I feel, I'm going to do 3 exams. And I feel doing 2 UWSAs and 1 NBME is a better option for learning than doing 3 NBMEs. I mean who cares about assessment :p ? I'm going to get what I'm going to get, there is nothing in this world that can make me change my exam date :p All the other resources like uworld scores, give a very decent indication of how a person is doing anyway.

    And the 1 NBME I've done did show me how much easier those were compared to the question banks. I was literally scoring less than 40% in usmle-rx in the few blocks that I did, and then the school made us take an NBME where I scored a 220 (this was 2 months ago before any real usmle prep). The NBME was much more straight forward, it tested understanding of the material rather than knowing a small fact somewhere in first aid.
     
  14. Donald Juan

    Donald Juan 5+ Year Member

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    You're right about time being valuable. If someone came here and said, "should I do all 12 NBMEs and only half of UW?" I'm confident the resounding response would be to do all of UW and only do a few NBMEs to see where you stand. But, this is SDN and you have crazies who have done UW, Rx, and Kaplan (some people multiple times) and want more questions. The NBMEs are 2,400 questions from the actual board writers. Yeah, they don't have lengthy explanations, but for me most wrong answers come down to either "I didn't know X --> Ctrl+F in first aid --> make anki card --> I now know X" or saying "damn it, that was a stupid mistake. Don't do that again you freaking jackass" while slapping myself repeatedly.

    A previous poster mentioned getting used to the tone and feel of NBME questions vs the qbanks. You blew it off because apparently you can make 40% on Rx and 220 on NBMEs. Well, that is awesome for you, and you are right that NBMEs are mostly easier. Most people do have an improved % on NBMEs, but your jump from 40% to about 80% correct is atypical. Apparently you have skills that some of us lack.

    Also, keep in mind that some people (I'm sure noone who would come here, thank God) are actually in danger of failing the exam. I don't mean "fail" as in "making below a 250" but "fail" as in "fml I have to talk to my dean about starting 3rd year late. My hopes and dreams are crumbling before my eyes." The usefulness of accurate assessments on where you stand can be invaluable for some people.
     
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  15. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Just ask actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus: http://player.vimeo.com/video/90154003
     
    Last edited: 05.20.14
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  16. Apoplexy__

    Apoplexy__ Blood-and-thunder appearance Bronze Donor 2+ Year Member

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    wtf am i watching

    wat
     
  17. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    It's the NBME celebrating their 100th anniversary. The OP asked what's the point of doing NBMEs. I figured Julia Louis-Dreyfus should tell him. That being said I now officially can't stand Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
     
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  18. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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  19. antelopemd

    antelopemd 2+ Year Member

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    You know she'd get it.
     
  20. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Yup, and they get to charge and take your hard earned money for that fun "assessment" too.

    For Step 1, 7 x $50 = $350, or 7 x $60 = $420 for expanded feedback
     
  21. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    Thankfully my school pays for our NBMEs! :angelic:
     
  22. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    They pay for all 7 of the self-assessments? Or are you talking about the subject exams?
     
  23. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Not if you get the expanded feedback option for the NBME self-assessments. $60 (instead of $50)
     
  24. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    The self-assessments. Everyone gets vouchers for two, and then if you need more, you get more.
     
  25. Donald Juan

    Donald Juan 5+ Year Member

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    Where do you think your school gets the money to pay for those?
     
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  26. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    Yes, I know, tuition. It's still nice.
     
  27. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus Banned Account on Hold 2+ Year Member

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    yea if you pay for the nbmes, you don't know how to use google.
     
  28. DCBFan

    DCBFan 5+ Year Member

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    Good points, score prediction is extremely valuable if you're worried about failing. Also, if you're someone who does have a flexible test date and really wants to get a certain score. And obviously if you've exhausted all better options go ahead and do them.

    But I think for the average american student, who's going to get a reasonable score, is not going to move their test date, and doesn't have tons of time and money after finishing Uworld, the value of doing NBMEs is overstated.
     
  29. Polymyxin

    Polymyxin 2+ Year Member

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    another benefit...it can help manage your expectations
     
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  30. 001100010010011

    001100010010011 2+ Year Member

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    In the great scheme of things, the minuscule amount of money you pay in order to take a timed NBME that gives you a readout of your performance, tells you accurately which questions you missed, and simulates the actual exam is nothing.
     
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  31. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    It's not just the questions. It's the timed session, taking and answering questions under a time crunch, getting feedback on your weaknesses, etc.
     
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