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Mar 11, 2018

Step 1 Scores

1 comment

What are your thoughts on why there is a huge discrepancy between Step 1 scores if most individuals use the same resources (UW,FA, Pathoma, NBME)?


Mar 17, 2018

This is a fantastic question. In my experience, there are two major factors that explain this discrepancy:


(1) Test-taking skills. Many students' struggle with developing a good approach to NBME-style questions, so even people who have done well on the MCAT may have a style of thinking that is not well-suited to doing exams written by the NBME. Step 1 and Step 2 CK are much more about test-taking strategy than people think (this is why even people who work extremely hard may still struggle to get a great score!). In my own personal experience, I didn't have a phenomenal fund of knowledge, but was able to use highly strategic test-taking techniques and pattern recognition to my advantage. I've found that these same skills are very teachable, but many students need some 1-on-1 guidance to really master this. Some students have a poor test-taking approach to begin with (e.g., not applying process of elimination properly) or tend to think in possibilities and struggle with the black-and-white nature of multiple choice questions. These students in particular see very significant score improvements with test-prep tutoring.


(2) Studying in ways that do not lead to long-term retention. Reading alone will result in only 5% retention after 2 weeks. Taking extensive notes in First Aid, something many students do, only improves retention marginally compared to reading; it just isn't a good use of time. Even if you use the same resources, if you simply read and annotate them, you will forget almost everything you learn. Approaches that have you make your own resources (such as making your own flash cards) lead to much better retention, up to 95% after 2 weeks. Spaced repetition is also key, which is why we recommend Anki to all of our students.

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