Hi. I’m Mike, otherwise known as Askdoc. Some of you may already know my story. For those who don’t, well, I am a very old IMG, graduated way back in 1989. I took the USMLE Step 1 in April, 2006 and scored a 99/256 and USMLE Step 2 CK in November, 2006 and scored a 99/258. Subsequently I took USMLE Step 2 CS in March, 2007 and passed. Lastly I took USMLE Step 3 in August, 2007 and scored a 90/219. This is my advice for the old IMG taking the USMLE.
I know what it is like to be an old IMG, about to take the plunge into this challenging exam called the USMLE. I know about all the naysayers, who say that you are too old. Even if you pass, how can you match with a low score? I know about the anxiety, the fear of not being able to make the grade and to fail. I know all about the pressure, from family and friends.
I went through all of them, bore them stoically, until I made it through. I am here to tell you that if I can do it, you can do it, too. I have seen too many of my old IMG students make it to think that this exam is impossible for most old IMGs. It was never a matter of skill, but a matter of will. For if you have the will, you will find a way.
Listen and Learn
As for the skills and know-how you need to pass this exam. That is easy enough to acquire, if you are willing to listen. If you are willing to learn. If you have the will to see this through. To achieve USMLE success.
Therefore, I have decided to start a series of posts advising Old IMG’s on how to tackle the USMLE. How to evaluate what they need to do in order to be able to do well in this series of exam. Don’t get me wrong. The challenges for an Old IMG in taking the USMLE exam is enormous. But it is not insurmountable.
With patience, determination and proper study methodology, you can pass the USMLE exam. Some of you may also be able to ace it.
What You Will Learn
In order to keep everything organized, I have divided the various topics for the old IMG into the following section. You can access all the topics though this post as they are finished. (The list will become clickable links. They will also turn blue just like papa smurf. Hehe)
- USMLE FAQs for the Old IMG. There are a lot of information that is of utmost relevance to the old IMG. Since majority of all USMLE exam-takers are either third year medical students or fresh grads, these facts do not apply to them and usually is not mentioned or discussed in most forums. As an old IMG it took me sometime to discover all the answers to a lot of these FAQs. You can have an easier time finding them all here.
- Problems of the Old IMG Taking the USMLE. The typical Old IMG faces a lot of problems prepping for the USMLE. A lot of times, they don’t even realize they have these problems. Even if they do, sometimes they don’t know how to compensate for them or even solve them. It took a lot of effort and trial and error mistakes on my part to learn about these problems and figure out how to solve them. Some I only solved way after I aced my exams, while helping some of my old IMG students with their problems. You can find them discussed here.
- Social and Motivational Issues of the Old IMG. As an old IMG, I had to face and overcome many motivational problems and social pressures in order to successfully pass my Steps. This is true for most old IMGs, so don’t think you are alone. You need to confront these problems and issues head-on if you want to succeed. Read about them and how to solve it here. You may also want to share your story and get some advice on how to deal with those problems.
- Creating a Study Plan for the USMLE Step 1 (Old IMG). As an old IMG, I realize I have to study differently from most of the exam takers out there if I was to have any chance of achieving USMLE success. I needed a study plan that is created specifically for an old IMG like me. And so do you. Find out what you need to know to create a study plan that is just right for you.
- Study Material for the USMLE Step 1 (Old IMG). One of the most important thing I realized early on in my prep is that the review materials I need to use needs to be different from what third year medical students and fresh grads. I needed to use study materials not just reviewers, since I need to learn stuff I have forgotten or don’t know, not just review them. Remember you can’t review what you don know. You need to learn or relearn them first.
- Learning Phase for the USMLE Step 1 (Old IMG). Learning phase is where you concentrate on learning the topics you don’t know or you have forgotten. This phase is needed to insure you know and understand the topics being tested in the exam. This is especially important for the old IMG and those who wish to ace the USMLE. Learn how to do that properly here.
- Mastery Phase for the USMLE Step 1 (Old IMG). Mastery Phase is where you make sure you have memorized all the concepts tested in the USMLE at the right level of detail and be able to recall them fast. This is also where you study them in the right way so you can anticipate the questions being asked and answer them pretty fast. Although most of Mastery Phase is the same for everybody, there are some extra things old IMG need to be concerned with during Mastery Phase.
- Test Preparation Phase for the USMLE Step 1 (Old IMG). The test preparation phase is especially important for the old IMG. As an old IMG, it’s been a long time since I have have sat for exams, more so long exams. I know I needed to spend a lot more time getting used to taking exams for long hours again. Also I needed to hone my test-taking skills again and get used to computer-based tests.
- Sitting for the USMLE Step 1 (Old IMG). Although everyone is taking more or less the same exam, conditions for the exam are a bit different for an old IMG. We get tired faster. We may have poorer eyesight. We are not as fast as we used to be and many more. We need to anticipate these and prepare for it when we sit for the exam.
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So see you as we go on this journey of discovery and if you want me to write about a particular topic, feel free to write and post it in the comments section below.