I’m at that terrifying point in the sigmoid curve where I should still be getting easy returns. Unfortunately, UWorld is refusing to score me higher than 68% on any given block – and to make it worse, it’s always clear uWorld was not only correct but also being relatively nice about it.

When I read an answer I missed I’m like “oh shit, they shouldn’t have even let me into med school – that was obvious and I am terrible, I will take this embarrassing secret with me to the grave“.  But then when I read an answer I got right I’m like “oh and look at me not even knowing why half the wrong answers were wrong WHY DON’T I JUST MOVE TO ALBERTA AND BECOME A MOOSE GODDAMNIT”  – so even though I feel so close to that goddamned 70% average I can taste it, it’s all beginning to feel a little dire and claustrophobic.

sorry you suck at everything

The fun, light-hearted comedy of my study month which was supposed to star a young Natalie Portman Discovering Her True Potential Despite Being Beset By Wacky-Yet-Understandable Hijinks has slowly morphed into more of a black-and-white, subtitled feature about Pensive Looks and Slow Motion Espresso Pours headlined by a down-on-his-luck, alcoholic Kevin Bacon and directed by Woody Allen for some reason.

Guys.  Down-on-his-luck, subtitled Kevin Bacon is not going to get a good Step 1 score. Zany-yet-hopeful Natalie Portman was totally going to overcome those wacky hijinks and blow Step 1 out of the park, but somehow my life is no longer the musical comedy it was when I took the MCAT.  It is now gross and unrelenting in its awfulness.  It could even be nominated for an Oscar despite widespread critical distaste – just because it’s THAT DEPRESSING –that’s how bad the cinemized version of my Step 1 studying has become.

I have 2.5 weeks left.  It is now or never. I can either continue holding true to the “First Aid + UWorld = guaranteed 230 minimum” mantra touted across SDN and every 240+ test-taker of the past decade, or I can square my shoulders, say “screw you,” shake my fist at the sky, and try something radically different because I am applying to pediatrics, goddamn it, and in exchange for no glory or disgustingly excessive paychecks whatsoever for the rest of my professional life, I will bravely risk claiming my rightful (gasp!) average score.

throwing shit at the computer gif

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, though.  Hopefully this story will end with the kind of moral you’d feel comfortable instilling in your bright-eyed, bushy-tailed pre-med friends: “See? If you just try hard and stay flexible, you too can go from being a marginally amusing, 2nd-tier med blogger to a genuine holder of a 230+ score!”

Anyway, I’m beginning a new, revolutionary plan.  A plan so revolutionary you will have second thoughts – regardless of the outcome – of so much as mentioning its very name in front of bright-eyed pre-meds, because you know in your heart that 1) they should not follow it and 2) it is just a terrible name.

It’s called – quite eloquently, I think –  The 3 weekScrew All Of You, I Hate The World So I’m Going To Study What I Wish I’d Learned Better The First Time Around” Plan.

Instead of more UWorld questions and more First Aid passes, I’m going to watch the Kaplan pharm and path videos, take notes, carefully speed through pathoma, make sure I know fetal anatomy & physiology like the back of my hand, and memorize the genetic disorders in a way where I understand them somewhat logically.

I’ll make sure I keep what I know of immuno and micro well-memorized, but I’ll probably have to watch the Kaplan videos for those as well, because let’s not kid ourselves – without cytoarchitecture, I don’t know a Kuppfer cell from a damned histiocyte.

Everything else, the rest of my stubbornly-still-not-230 knowledge base, can just STAY WHERE IT IS FOR ALL I CARE.  I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU. LALALALALALA, biochem.


To review:  UWorld + FA is not working for me because I am either a) an idiot or b) doing it wrong.  This merits a brand new plan, and it is as nonsensical and all-over-the-place as UWorld + FA is sensible and complete.

Luckily, if nothing changes, I do seem to be well on track for a solidly 220ish number, so I think it’s worth the risk to try to redeem these study hours on a Hail Mary pass towards the 230s.

Action Potential, out.

17 thoughts on “USMLE Week 3 Update: WHY AM I HORRIBLE.

  1. I feel your pain. This was me at about as much time studying for Step 1. I wish I could say I figured out how to make it get better and I moved to Samoa or something, but I didn’t. All I can say is that you’re not at all alone.

  2. Our school is doing the “WHY HELLO MED STUDENTS HOW ABOUT A MANDATORY OR SEVEN?” thing that pretty much makes keeping up with class + Step prep a nightmare.

  3. From someone who’s been there:
    You have to do questions everyday! 68% average is good (don’t psych yourself out)! Seriously, even if you’re getting 30% continue to do questions. Watch videos only on sections you’re completely clueless on. And don’t waste too much time on micro. You’re time is better spent doing biostat.

    Things to do last minute when pressed for time:

    -Just google ALL past NBME exams and do the questions! TIME YOURSELF (60 secs or less 🙂 ) . It will give you more confidence on the day of the exam, you won’t be as concerned with how much time you’re spending with each question b/c you’ve already practiced.

    -Go through all your formulas/equations (you will be utilizing them while doing the NBME’s so doing the exams will help fill in the gaps for things you’re missing).

    -And maybe review some random immuno tidbits that you think you might forget. And note, there is no better way to review than through a question. So if you forget what the hell a natural killer cell does, I would type in “natural killer cell” in the search bar in Usmle World and review all the questions that pop up for the term you searched.

    -Also go over questions that cover hormonal, electrolyte regulation, ie, ….if pt has x disease, then what happens to a,b,c,&d (increase,decrease, or remain unchanged). Could also find these questions by using keyword search on UWorld.

    -I know I’m repeating myself but…DO THE NBME EXAMS!!! They will help you review biostat, epi, and physio.

    -With regards to anatomy , I would know bones, muscles, nerves for: rotator cuff/knee/and hand(wrist) at the least

    Good luck!

    Artist @ ❤

  4. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I didn’t know you were applying in to peds – that is awesome, I’m an intern in peds this year.

    Also I scored a solid 68% on my UWorld questions right up until the last week before the exam, then I started getting better! And I did very well on Step 1, relying only on FA and UW. So don’t fret, you have plenty of time. Good luck!

  5. A little discouragement, and little encouragement:
    UWorld+ First Aid does not = automatic 230. Trust my experience on that.
    However, a 68% on a World quiz is fine. I’m taking step 3 soon and I’m still getting 68’s left and right. Don’t freak out over the 68’s.
    And going back and studying things you didn’t get the first time = excellent idea.
    Also, there’s not a lot of histology or embryology on Step 1, so don’t go too crazy on those.

  6. Pingback: So I’m a fellow now | Action Potential

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