Moving On

I did not make enough items on the test to pass the first step. I gave some time for the sad news in my inbox to settle in and make sense. I worked hard. Perhaps not as hard as I should or not as hard as everybody else who put in 10 hours or more a day. I took enough easy and hard about this whole thing, and went through my preparations as gracefully as I could. The best I could at the time. While it did not take much to stand up and move on, it did take enormous strength to remind myself not to get stuck and hover too much about a failed test.

For a bit, I was hesitant to write about this, as all of the USMLE blogs I read prior to starting my own reported success — and in the 90s at that. I felt low for a bit, thinking I would not like to report a low performance. But then again, the purpose of sharing my experiences, I realized, is not just about sharing the successes. It includes the struggles, the work, the doubts, the occasional fear, and yes, the truth. Most importantly, the truth — and the need to overcome that goes with it. Just like a high score, this result, too, can provide some sense and maybe some learning to others in the same boat. There are many, I know. I’ve read their experiences in the forums. I am one of them now. But I’d rather share my thoughts here. Just as much as I celebrated the blogs and the people behind them for their inspiring success and perseverance, I hope this blog too will reinforce resilience for those still on the path towards the ‘pass’ level. Most especially, I am encouraging myself. I am celebrating resilience. It will be my strength.

I have other inspirations to draw from. They are also IMGs like you and me. They went through the same road, though with unique rocks and marshmallows. They are now in practice. The tests in their pasts were remembered fondly as the doors to the next level of their medical lives, no matter how many times they went in and out of those doors. Some of these inspirations are also of the usual variety, they passed the first time and with flying colors, just like some of the blogs I’ve read. Of course, it is best to do the tests right the first time. But I did not. Thus, this is another test for me. And I may be sweet lemonizing about this whole thing, but as far as resilience, I did pass. And so here I am.

Looking back, I could have done many things differently. I could think of the general 3. Schedule, material, and focus.

Stick to the study schedule more than the test schedule. Towards the end of my review weeks, my schedule had gone haywire. The successful others were right — even the basic structures like waking up at the same time every morning, to sit and do it, is a key detail. I broke free from the structures and did not finish a significant amount of material—not even the basic material. I was waning on that, too, towards the end. I did not have enough time to go back to everything I had planned to ‘review’ and re-read. Thus, I had none of the the second glance and seal-the-deal breeze. And I needed that. Applying one’s study style is totally different from respecting the required material to cover. Spending too much time in one important subject and consequently leaving the perceived less important ones for a dangerous cram is definitely not the way to go. Then I took the test as scheduled.

Mastery rather than quantity of review sources. I picked some very good sources and I promised to stick with it. I did. But given that, I think I still chose too much. I hope to change that in the next rounds.

Focus. This was my biggest struggle. I already know I have a short attention span. I am trying to figure out for myself now how I can employ maturity and stick to my study focus. Sit and focus. It is hard to stay on track. In my experience, I struggled more with this as time went on.

All that being said, I do not regret one thing. I have no excuses to offer. I will only learn from it. I will overcome. I am moving on.

I am now preparing my reading schedule for the USMLE Step 2 CK, then the USMLE Step 2 CS.

After the Step 2, I will go back to go Step 1 and work better to do better. As the movie goes, “I’ll be back!” Or should I say, I hereby declare this to be the day that I officially own my suck.


No worries.


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