The conclusion of my time on-isle

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, I took the exit examination at Saba University School of Medicine, also known as the NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Shelf.

The last 4 months were spent preparing for both the exit and the USMLE Step 1. Now that the exit exam is done and I’ve successfully passed, I can take the Step. I was pleased with the mark I received on the exit, and I know if I put in another month and a half of work I can really sharpen my knowledge base.

In completing the exit exam, I finished my 5th and final academic semester in the basic science portion of my medical education. My next week will be spent packing up the last 19 months of my life and flying back home to Louisiana.

There are many places and sources of advice on how to prepare for such a colossal exam, so I’ll keep mine brief. Firstly, you need to know yourself. Only on an existential level do you know what you know and what you don’t. After that, it’s simple: systematically address your weaknesses until you have as few as possible.

Personally, I knew I was a variable test taker. I knocked the socks off the SAT but did average on the MCAT. This was my personal weakness. So, every day, I tried to simulate testing conditions and pressures so that I could increase my capacity for focus. This was rough, but I am very proud of myself for the improvements I made. Every morning, at the same time, was the same ritual, the same breakfast, the same pre-question formula sheet, the same number of questions.

Every Saturday (except for when we had exams), I would do 4 blocks of questions. The first time I did this, I was mentally fried after the questions. I couldn’t do anything else that day. By the time around, I was able to review some of the questions the same day of the test. Eventually, I was able to focus for the whole exam, do well, and review all the questions in a single day, albeit from 8AM to 5PM.

The sources I used varied, but I liked:

  • First Aid 2014
  • Kaplan CV Physiology
  • BRS Path, Physio, Pharm
  • DIT
  • Sketchy Micro
  • Slides from courses (best if profound review needed)

Without a doubt, the bulk of my studying came from questions; thus far I’ve finished both the Kaplan question bank and the USMLE-Rx bank. I’m saving UWorld for when I get back home.

So that’s that. Now for a long awaited break.