Day 6 / 35

T minus 29 days to step 1

I can’t believe we’ve already been studying for a week. I suppose I’ve gotten a lot done – having gone through almost every chapter in first aid and most of Rapid Review Pathology, along with a biochemistry textbook. But it seems like a blur.

I had a conversation with a classmate today about studying for step 1. She relayed that she was having difficulty “putting in the hours.” That’s not something that I’ve felt since starting out. If anything, I feel like I don’t know what else to do but study. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last two years creating a chip on my shoulder that I need to overcome. Maybe it’s because I’ve been told that I need to do particularly well on this test. Maybe it’s my competitive streak.

Or, maybe it’s because I’m having fun. This is a worthy challenge and huge undertaking, and I can FINALLY fully commit to it. I hate having to pay attention to multiple things at once and feeling like I can’t do any of them to my full ability.

I laugh hearing people complain about the $50 “practice tests” offered by the NBME or the cost of the $300 questionbanks. Honestly folks – this is a test that can change your life. What *wouldn’t* you spend to succeed on it? Obviously I’m not a fan of spending money for the sake of watching your bank account dwindle, but what’s $50 or $500 or even $5000 compared to having opportunities for the rest of your life?

Maybe that attitude is the difference between someone like me and someone who is having difficulty getting the hours in. To me, this test is the single most important determinant of my success in applying to residency programs. If I viewed this as “just another test” or some obscure hurdle, I would probably hate it and grudgingly pass, as I’ve done for most of the assignments of medical school.

With this test, though, all I can see is opportunity and the chance to shape my own future. The ability to open doors at other institutions on both coasts of the country and anywhere in between. Also, and most importantly, it’s a chance for me to reinvent how I think about myself. On paper, I’m an average student at an average medical school. Sure, some folks have said nice things about me during my first two years at University Medical School, but that’s par for the course. I haven’t built many relationships that I can really rely on or done anything exceptional. Most troublingly, I haven’t invested myself in being a medical student to the extent that I would like. It is part of my life, but it hasn’t become my life. That’s something that I would like to change. I want to approach my last two years at University Medical School with a completely different attitude from the first two. Preparing for this test is the first part of changing how I think about myself.

Big day tomorrow – the first full-length simulation of the full test. 8 blocks of 46 questionbank questions (the real test only has 7). My goal is to get over 80%, and considering I’ve averaged 70% the first time I saw these questions, it is attainable. Admittedly, the *meaning* of knowing the right answer to 80% of a set of questions I’ve seen before (at some point in the last 3 months) is indeterminate. It is certainly not the same as getting 80% the first time through. My main goal is go 80% – 84% – 88% on the three weeks that I will be doing these diagnostics, indicating that I have improved 10% since I started out. If that correlates with the NBME tests, then I should move from an ~86% (the first NBME diagnostic test) into the 90-95% region on my second NBME diagnostic test.

Big day tomorrow. Time to rest and watch the Nova documentary “Doctor’s Diaries” on Netflix.

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