Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Final Exam

After the second year of medical school, students take the first of their board examinations, then a second board exam during the third year. A clinical patient encounter accompanies the second exam and fourth year is full of interviews which prove test enough to not need another board exam. One would think that post-medical school, the examination process ends and life returns to normal ebb and flow sans souci. Sadly, this is not the case. Enter residency...

Oiling the Rusty Mind

Months into residency and things are going great. Strolling wards, seeing patients and watching therapies take effect is a reward that hard work is paying off. But in order to pass intern year, the final round of board exams looms overhead holding in its death-grip the ability to moonlight in our post-graduate year II. This is where the intensive subject review satisfies the gap of knowledge from match day to test day. While passing scores are not required to be as high the third time around, we all want to perform well and put this exam behind us forever. It is said one needs to study two months for Level 1, two weeks for Level 2 and bring a #2 pencil for Level 3. Fortunately, many board exam resources are available so we don't have to rely on sheer luck.

With this third and final board exam I chose to prepare with the COMQUEST question bank for about one month in addition to my reading materials. One clear benefit that usually appeals to (over-worked and under-paid) residents is cost, which is generally lower than other question sets on the market. For those who might be curious what this Qbank has to offer, I have made some comments below highlighting both pros and cons. 

Pros
  • Reasoning - Each question has a detailed but brief explanation of the correct answer including information as to why the wrong answers are incorrect.
  • Comparison - Each question provides a percentage of users who chose the correct answer, thus providing you with an idea of what you should already know.
  • Suggestions - Many of the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine questions provide special algorithms to work through confusing scenarios.
  • Images - Pathology is explained and shown to assimilate exam-like experiences.
  • Representative - These questions are very similar to actual exam questions, thus better preparing the student for exam day.
Cons
  • Calculations - Some questions use numbers that are hard to manipulate and explain that the boards will use simplified values, why not use simpler values in the questions too?
  • Video - New examination format is implementing the use of video to portray questions which could be helpful in practice questions.
  • Goal - It would be nice to know what most passing test-takers are achieving overall in the Qbank to give an idea of how prepared we are before sitting for an 8-hour exam.
  • Scores - Currently, scores are reported in small font making them hard to stand out. It would be nice if they were larger and if you could select the last 5-10 tests to see recent percentages that don't include poor scores from the beginning of practice.
  • Devices - Making a smartphone or tablet app to do questions on the go, would be really helpful.
Per the folks at COMQUEST, audio and video style questions are soon to be added to the question bank. As a gift to dedicated readers and those interested in using this resource in their board exam preparations, when purchasing your subscription, enter the COMQUEST discount code CQMED10 for 10% off until 2/28/13. Please leave comments below with your feedback! 

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