Milestone Part II

United States USMLE
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Hello everyone. First, I would like to thank you my readers for visiting my blog. It’s been over 4 years since I started my blog in April, 2008 and it has been a really good 4 years.

I wrote my first milestone 4 months after I first started my blog. Now I am writing my second milestone 4 years after. Let’s hope it does not take 40 years before I write the third one.   😛 You can take a look at the first milestone post here.

First, the blog, all figures are as of August 4, 2012

Blog posts – 106
Page views – 641,858
Record Pageviews in one month – 22,185  in June 2012

Alexa Rank     

  • 693,832 – 3 months
  • 550,590 – 1 month
  • 447,701 – 7 days
  • 397,658 – 1 day

Visitors – 255,921
Countries – 183
Cities – 7,237

Top 5 cities

  1. New York – 11,842
  2. Chicago – 5,841
  3. Houston -3611
  4. Philadelphia – 3161
  5. Manila – 2885

Top 5 countries

  1. US – 170,949
  2. India – 15,277
  3. Canada – 12,054
  4. Philippines – 5,273
  5. Pakistan 4,490

All in all not too bad for a 4 year old blog. I also wrote about what is the future of Askdoc-Usmle. Back then I stated that I would proceed to do three things in order to help people score higher and pass the USMLE.

First, I would maintain the free site like this blog, so that I could continue to help people who just need a little advice and push in order to do well in the USMLE. And I think I have done that successfully to a certain extent.  I have written over a hundred articles since then, detailing various ways to approach your prep and given direct advise to hundreds more. Some have even come back to thank me for helping them pass and some for helping them get their 99’s.

However, the USMLE Wiki project has hit a snag but I hope to restart it again soon. The original plan was to use the blog to teach people how to study for the USMLE and to use USMLE Wiki to tell people what to study.

Second, to create study tools and materials, that will help people study better for this exam. These are for people who can prep on their own, but just need more help than just the occasional advise. I have created study tools that are available at my prep site and written a book called ‘ How to Master the USMLE Step 1: Askdoc’s Method of USMLE Prep’, that deals with every conceivable problem you may have with your prep. It’s purpose is to help you score higher and make your prep easier. Meanwhile, in the prep site are study materials  that conform to the study methods prescribed in the book including improving retention and recall of the materials studied, anticipating questions that will come out in the examinations, etc. Since that time, over 500 people have tried out the various study tools. In fact, I was surprise to meet one of them in person just a few weeks ago and she told me it helped her to pass the exam. If you are reading this, you know who you are. (waving….)

Lastly, to create prep courses for those who really need them. Not the standard prep course that gives you a bunch of notes to memorize, presuming you are able to memorize all of them without problems. The course tries to cover specific weak points. You have poor memory, how do we deal with that. You are a slow reader, there are ways to work on that. You have problems answering tough USMLE type questions, there are test-taking methods to fix that. So far over 150 people have gone through the course. Many have passed, some with really high scores including one 99. Many have failed Step 1 before some multiple times but finally passed after finishing the course. Alas there are also those who never finished the course for one reason or another. So I guess there is room for improving the course for those who are unable to follow a strict schedule of prepping.

I also stated then three things I learned when I started publishing this blog and in reality, they have not changed.

One, the amount of time and money involved in keeping a blog site running is not cheap. Therefore, I would like to thank all those who take the time to support this blog by clicking on the ads, or enrolling in my prep sites on those study tools that cost less than two or three cups of coffee in Starbucks and those who enrolled in the prep courses itself. Thank you, you have helped keep this blog alive. 😉

Two, there are still a lot of people who do not believe you no matter how logically you try to explain why they need to study a certain way. And apparently, they could give no logical reason for saying why they are correct and why I am wrong except that they are correct. The second most common argument is that so and so person claim that he just went through First Aid a few times, did the online QBank and ace the exam. So passing the exam should be easy and I am crazy to advocate that people need to study harder and smarter if they want to pass this exam, much less ace it. If its that easy, then what is wrong with the thousands of people who fail this exam or who can’t ace it? 😯

Three, there are people who can pass by reviewing on their own, but there are those who need a prep course in order to pass. Yet too many people only seek help after they have failed. Sometimes, it takes only very little to avoid failure in the first place. For example spending US$ 9.99 for a copy of my book How to Master the USMLE Step 1 would have helped. I stated there that you should not sit for the exam until you are sure you can pass as failing can decrease your chance for a residency position. There are ways to make sure you can pass this exam before you take it. US$ 9.99 is just the cost of one good meal or 3 cups of coffee in Starbucks and yet  there are people who will choose to fail first rather than spend that amount of money to make sure they will pass.

When I was reviewing, I purchased a lot of books costing from US$ 10 to 20 that I wound up not using. But that was the only way for me to really know what will work and what won’t. Compared to my career, a few hundred dollars is nothing. I have always believed that stacking the odds in my favor right from the start is important if I want to insure that I succeed. Risking failure when you don’t have to is a waste of time, money and effort. Apparently not everyone thinks that way. They will have to fail first before they will act. Some not even then.

So, what is in store for the future of Askdoc-USMLE.

First, the blog of course will continue as well as a revived USMLE Wiki. I will write more short books for free download that will deal with specific problems in prepping.

Second, I will continue to expand by creating more short courses and study tools in my prep site which can be used by people who don’t need a full prep course but need more than just occasional advise. These study tools will help people to prep better and faster.

Lastly, I will split the Step 1 prep course into two. A moderated prep course in which people follow a strict schedule and will be closely monitored to finish their prep at a determined time (3 to 6 months) and a self-paced prep course where people are free to move at their own pace. In my experience, almost everyone who is able to follow the prescribed schedule and meet the minimum performance requirement of the course pass Step 1, even if they had failed before. Meanwhile although a lot of those who study at their own pace eventually drop out, there are also a lot of them who eventually finish the course albeit really late and not only pass but score well too. So some people do better under a structured, monitored environment while others are better doing it self-paced and only occasionally asking for advice as they progress.

One last thing, I will be starting a USMLE Step 2 CK class in October. It will still be in the experimental stage of course, although it will follow the way I had prepped and the way a few people I had helped prepped privately did it. Some of them are now in residency and again if they are reading this, I am waving to them.  😀   I will only be accepting five students for this class which will last between 4 to 6 months. Tuition fees will be US$ 200 and it will be on a first come first serve basis.

In Summary:

1. Askdoc-Usmle has come a long way since it started 4 years ago.
2. It has fulfilled its mission of helping people pass and do better in the USMLE Step 1 in 3 ways.
  A. Maintaining Free sites like the blog that provide free articles and advise on prepping
  B. Setting up a prep site that develops short courses that help with specific problems in prepping
  C. Setting up full prep courses that help those who need more intensive help in their prep.
3. Keeping everything running smoothly is challenging, but with the support of our readers we are able to overcome.
4. Moving forward requires us to improve further our ability to help people pass and do well in the USMLE and we are up to the challenge.

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