Like it or not, medicine is always going to be a battle of knowledge – both textbook and practical knowledge. After all, as someone who’s aspiring to become a future doctor, the only way your mentors can prepare you is through letting you absorb as much knowledge as you possibly can. This way, when the time comes for you to make a crucial call, you’ll be doing it after much preparation. This is regardless of the results of your decision too. Whether you make a good or bad call, the most important thing is that you made that decision with as much consideration in mind. There’s a reason why it is called the “practice of medicine.” It’s because from the start till the end of your professional career, you won’t know for sure if you’re doing the right thing. The only thing you can do is learn so much that you, yourself, have faith in your own judgement.
In line with the mission of producing highly capable and experienced individuals in the field of medicine, certain measures of quality must be put in place. If you have a friend or a family member who’s been through the painstaking process of getting a medical degree, then you probably have an idea (more or less) about what it’s like to be a med student. You’ve probably witnessed relationships fail and mental breakdowns before your very eyes too. Well, such is the melancholy of an aspiring doctor. You have to let go of a lot of things in order to chase after one grand dream. Don’t worry, though. Such valiant and loyal efforts are rewarded plenty in the end – assuming you make it through in one piece!
Now, that little pep talk didn’t come out the way I want it too but honesty is something that’s extremely valued in these parts of town so I guess I did you a favour by being brutally honest. If that gave you a scare but still refuse to give up on this dream of yours anyway, congratulations. You are emotionally ready to take on this conquest.
Starting Your Career In The Medical Field
But how do you become a doctor exactly? I’m pretty sure you’re wondering about this too. Well, obviously, you have got to get a medical degree and you can only do so after you get accepted in a med college or university. Of course, this part is far from a breeze but I bet you already know that too. So you start by taking the MCAT or Medical College Admissions Test. This is a prerequisite exam for all med school applicants. It’s something that you need to take if you ever want to get into any university.
I don’t think I need to mention it but you need to get a satisfactory score on this 6.5-hour exam. It consists of at least 230 total questions and is divided into 10 parts, each having 4 to 7 items about a particular field of science. There are also 15 stand-alone questions in the science section plus 9 passages on the CARS. It’s basically a test that determines the extent of your knowledge of the medical sciences as well as measures your aptitude for learning them. I guess it would be safe to say that this exam determines your future in med school. If you end up not passing with flying colors but still want to continue on this track, there’s nothing to stop you from taking it again though.
If you want to get into a good university, acing this exam should be a natural priority of yours. This exam will strongly affect your application for medical studies, after all. It’s best to start eyeing universities from the get-go and checkout their averages for admission. This will help you establish a benchmark for yourself. The finest institutions will, without doubt, require a higher test score on the MCAT because of two reasons: (1) They want to train the best of the best and (2) they may have many applicants so a higher average would help them filter applicants faster.
If you’re worried about taking the MCAT, you can always sign up for tutoring classes. MCAT Tutoring is a cram-school course that can help you get a better feel of the exam. They can help you prep for the questions and exam requirements. After all, it feels much better to be with fellow aspirants before taking the nerve-wracking exams. It will certainly help you ease your nerves as well as seek help from peers.
But you should know that the journey doesn’t stop with the entrance examinations. In fact, if you’re aiming to become a medical professional, you should brace yourself for so much more. Say, the USMLE test series.
What Is The USMLE?
The USMLE or United States Medical Licensing Examination is a three-part test series that is given in intervals during the course of your stay in med school. These “parts” are namely USMLE Step 1, 2, and 3 (I know; it’s not very creative but simplicity is always good). Actually, there are four parts if you count Step 2-CK (Clinical Knowledge and 2-CS (Clinical Skills) separately since you do have the option to take them at separate schedules. If you want to know more about the USMLE, you can check out the guides we have on-site that specifically explores the topic. Today, we have a slightly different agenda although it is still somewhat involved with the USMLE test series.
The only thing you need to know right now is that out of the three exams, Step 1 is the most crucial. This test is often administered after the first two years of med school. And appropriately enough, it’s a knowledge test about the basic sciences as well as all the subjects you covered in the first two years of your schooling. Naturally, it’s going to be a pretty long exam consisting of 280 questions divided into 7 sections of 40 items each. It may just be 280 multiple-choice items but that’s also 280 items that you don’t know where or when you’ve read about. In fact, it’s not even sure if you’ve come across the answers to those questions yet. You can’t possibly memorize everything that you’ve learnt over the past two years and this is why a thorough review is necessary.
With your schedule as hectic as it is even without the exams, it’s hard to find time – let alone discipline yourself – to study for Step 1. So, this is where we “step” in. We offer tutoring and review classes specifically catered to USMLE Step 1 takers. Aside from review classes, you should also take the time to do the NBME Step 1 Practice Exams. I’ll expound more on what these are below.
What Are NBME Step 1 Practice Exams?
As you may already know, the NBME or National Board of Medical Examiners is the governing body that administers the USMLE exams. Although they are behind the notorious test series that is feared by many examinees, they are not all that heartless. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have made the CBSSAs or Comprehensive Basic Science Self Assessments which are 200-item practice tests that is meant to help students prepare for the USMLE exams better.
Needless to say, these practice exams would not be the same as the USMLE but it does help you prepare yourself mentally for the exams. It will cover similar topics and concepts to help you get a feel of what the real thing would look like. But keep note: While the USMLE Step 1 consists of 280 items, the CBSSA forms are far more plenty than that. So it’s not like the jurors are spoon-feeding you the answers to the Step 1 exam. One CBSSA form will have 200 questions. And guess what? You can take as many as 11 (or maybe even more if you back track other forms that have been retired already) forms before your actual exams. If each 200-item questionnaire takes up 5 hours of your time, imagine how long it would take you to finish 2200 questions. And you don’t even know which ones are going to be included in the actual exam! It will surely take a lot of brain and willpower but hey, it also means a golden opportunity to actually ace your exams.
Recently, there have been changes in the CBSSA forms released by the NBME. For one, forms 3, 15, 16, 17, and 19 that have been used up until last year have been put to retirement already (18 is still available) and have been replaced with 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24. This means that there are five sets of new questions and since the CBSSA answer guides only highlight and not explain the answers, you probably won’t get anywhere trying to search for answer explanations online at this time. At the very least, it would take months or even years before someone somewhere gives rough explanations about the answers – not that you should trust them because they’re totally unverified so you may be lead to misconstrue and misunderstand some things.
The best way to face NBME Step 1 Practice Exams is to have real, dedicated and knowledgeable mentors assist you every step of the way. On that note, why not check them out here?