How Can I Improve My Score After NBME Score Says Not Ready?

Hi, I took a USMLEworld stimulated exam and received an assessment score of 280. The appx 3 digit score was 154. What can I do to improve my score and how can I know how much more time do I need?

Thanks in advance.

Answer: Hello 2013 student. We are assuming that you are preparing for the USMLE Step 1. We don’t know what you have been doing thus far to prepare and we don’t have your assessment profile, but here are a few suggestions.

Without additional background information concerning your preparation, we would recommend an extension of 3- 4 weeks before sitting for the exam. Your NBME performance indicates that there is some foundational work you still need to do before taking your actual exam. However, that work may be in just a few key areas that were difficult for you or not covered well in your curriculum. We would need to go over your NBME profile to determine your areas of strengths and weaknesses to determine if you need to focus on specific areas or do a more general review. Let us know how you have been doing on the last 15 UWorld question bank sessions. This will give us all an additional piece of information as to your progress.

Without a profile or background, we will focus on some advice for general information improvement. If you have not fully annotated a major review resource using an organized taped, live course, or books, we would recommend adding that to your preparation. Two very popular books for this include Step Up and First Aid which are outlines to the essential information needed to pass the Step 1 exam, but the information needs to be annotated from other resources. This is an essential step in the learning process and should not be ignored.

You also need to complete a question bank in timed, mixed (random) mode and study the explanations. We have our advisees start with studying all of the explanations and annotating their major resource with essential information from the explanations. Once the students are either scoring very high in the QBank or are repeating the question bank, they study only the explanations of the questions they get incorrect. There are several reasons for studying the explanations but, most importantly, there are many exam questions that come from explanation content. Your purpose to study the explanations is to also figure out why you missed the question: Did I misread it? Did I not understand what the question wanted from me? Did I not adequately consider all of the answer choices? Did I rush through the question?

Take a look at how you are approaching your learning. Are you just reading over the material again and again? That rarely leads to the advanced, higher level learning that is necessary for the performance required for mastery of material needed for Step 1. Students often study like this and don’t understand that they have to do the hard work of really understanding the material. This requires really thinking through the material, explaining it to someone else, or standing in front a dry erase board to recreate what you know on a topic over and over again until it is learned. Annotating your major resource is the first step, but students often fail to follow through on the next step.

We hope these suggestions help and don’t block your efforts. Take this one day at a time and keep on track. Start your day early and you may benefit from leaving home and going to a study room away from home so you equate your preparation with work. Keep your work steady and know you are making progress each day. As you get 60% through your question bank, you should see your scores begin to go up, but you should always do your quizzes in timed, mixed mode to practice for the actual examination.

Touch base again and please feel free to ask additional questions.

One Response to “How Can I Improve My Score After NBME Score Says Not Ready?”

  1. Real says:

    After going through the study material including FA once, I took NBME 11 and got 200. I am half way thru USMLE WORLD, with my average score of 55%, but my score keeps fluctuating, initially between 60-36% and now, from 55% to 78%. I have not been going through the explanations of the QBank consistently as I was focusing more on finishing FA. I cant figure out how much time I need to be fully prepared to appear for Step 1. And how should I approach the QBank? I dont want to waste the questions.

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