Can I get a 99 in the USMLE?

By askdoc / September 27, 2010
Share if you like this post
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Holy Grail of the USMLE exam is to get a 99 or much more rarely the double 99. This is where you get a 99 on both the USMLE Step 1 and the USMLE Step 2 CK. Only very few people can achieve the even rarer triple 99, where you also get a 99 in the USMLE Step 3. Everyone wants a 99 but not everyone can do it. So the question you have to ask yourself is, can I get a 99 in the USMLE?

There are many factors that limit the score you are able to achieve in the USMLE exam. Some are innate and cannot be change. Some are skills that require a long time to develop. While others can be managed and improved to raise your over-all scores.

Innate factors and therefore can’t be change include the following:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Memory Capacity
  3. Rate of forgetting

Skills that require time to develop include the following:

  1. Reading Speed
  2. Analytical Skills

Factors that can be managed and improved

  1. Test-taking skills
  2. Study Methods

Innate factors are inborn and cannot be changed. Therefore the only thing you can do about it is to compensate for it and work your way around it. And there are various methods to do so. Skills that require time to develop are for the purpose of the USMLE almost permanent and cannot be changed in the time frame involved in USMLE prep. Depending on the overall time commitment you are able to put into your prep, you may still be able to do really minor improvements to these factors.

The largest room for improvement lies in test-taking skills and study methods. There are various ways to improve the way you retain and recall information. To study in such a way as to anticipate questions that will be asked in the exam and prepare for it ahead.

We will discuss each of these factors in more detail in the future posts. Watch for it.

Related Posts:

Like This Page!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
About the author

    askdoc

  • neel fotedar says:

    hello sir… i am neel fotedar, 2nd year medical student from india.(studyn patho, pharma n micro). i have already started with my preparation. i am using kaplan for all subjects except patho, for which i refer goljan. i still have alot of time but i want you advice when should i appear for step 1? i mean i initially thought of appearing at the end of next year but i am not sure whether it will be right to got for it next year or should i wait till my internship. i dont know how to assess my preparation, though i still have to go through my 1st year subjects(anat, physio n biochem)…. my strategy is simple.. i started referring goljan n kaplan about 6 months back.. i have covered a good deal of my 2nd year subjects and i am planning to review my 1st year subjects next year(prefinal). but i dnt know how to assess myself if i am doin good or not… guide me sir….
    thank you.

  • askdoc says:

    Hi Neel,

    You can use one of the assessment tests available through NBME or even USMLE World. You have told me what you are studying but you have not described how you are studying them, how detailed or thoroughly you are studying those topics which are just as important. So no way for me to assess how well you are doing or when you will be ready to sit for the exam. I need to at least know your progress, speed of progress, etc, or its impossible to give an estimate.

    Askdoc

  • Noah says:

    Any reason why your posts use the 99 score used as a measure of success for Step 1 and 2? I have often heard international medical graduates refer to 99 as the “holy grail” while in my program “low 99” scores (starting from ~229 on Step 1) are quite acceptable but not necessarily a brilliant outcome, as it seems like many residency programs look only at the 3 digit score and the most competitive specialties prefer a 240+. If you have any insight into the relative merits of a “low 99” vs a “high 99” score with regards to residency placement I would love to hear it. Thanks!

  • askdoc says:

    Hi Noah,

    Actually when I took the exams way back in 2006-2007, 99 was equivalent to 240 and scores below 255 are considered “low 99”. But since the change in passing scores, the score curve has changed so scores as low as 229 you say is a 99. One of my students who took the exam in 2009 got a 232/97 and was very disappointed because he did not get a 99. Anyway, I guess the programs who look at 3 digit scores primarily still stick to 240 as the “true 99” in order to be able to compare scores between students who took the exam at various times and maintain the “quality” of their programs.

    Askdoc


  • >
    %d bloggers like this: