By using a standardized test like the NBME to evaluate a student’s readiness to take the actual USMLE exam, the PASS Program has been able to gain very valuable information. We have been able to look for clear trends and associations between students’ scores and their ability to perform well on the exam. Therefore, we have decided to create a more formal evaluation system that will assist a student in gauging how much more time (and perhaps money, if necessary) and effort he/she may have to expend to finalize preparation for the hardest exam of his/her medical career.
There are three main patterns that appear from evaluating the NBME test. The first pattern speaks to the knowledge base of a student. This pattern allows us to inform a student that additional time must be spent reinforcing his/her knowledge base by fully reviewing all of the notes from the program in its entirety. After that, then we create a study plan for the student that concentrates on any particular topics which may still be weak after further testing.
The second pattern that can emerge from evaluating NBME scores is a more complex pattern that speaks to the student’s ability to integrate knowledge, apply medical knowledge clinically, and process large amounts of medical information. These problems with integrating knowledge are not easily corrected by information that one would read out of a book. They have to be taught by someone who has these abilities and knows how to teach these abilities to someone else.
The final pattern that emerges from evaluating NBME scores is a pattern that speaks to the student’s ability to apply excellent test-taking skills consistently. It shows whether a student can apply the many rules of test taking that maximize one’s test performance and, of course, one’s final test score.
By evaluating the NBME scores of thousands of former students that have attended the PASS Program, we have created three main levels of performance, and we have tried to create a plan for that achievement level. These plans will help a student plan for success. By following these plans, students should experience steady progress on their scores until they achieve the desired NBME score prior to taking the actual USMLE.