Investigating the Impact of Preparation Strategies on USMLE Step 1 Performance (Published 2015)
Apr 06, 2016
Bonasso P, Lucke-Wold B, Reed Z, Bozek J and Cottrell s
The purpose of this study is to provide medical educators with data on which resources correlate with higher USMLE Step 1 exam scores.
Background: The USMLE Step 1 score helps differentiate applicants for competitive residency programs. Students frequently ask medical educators how to prepare for this high-stakes exam. Multiple resources exist such as books, training programs, and question banks. The purpose of this study is to provide medical educators with data on which resources correlate with higher exam scores.
Methods: 164 medical students at West Virginia University School of Medicine were given a survey following the completion of Step 1. The survey contained questions about resources used and exam date. De-identified data was paired with class quartile rankings and Step 1 scores. Average Step 1 scores were calculated for each resource and a student’s t-test was used to compare between groups. Test dates were also broken into quintiles and average Step 1 scores were compared between groups.
Results: Students who used the USMLE World question bank had higher Step 1 scores (M=229, SE=1.4) compared to students who did not use this resource (M=215, SE=4.2). Commercial preparation courses were not associated with improved scores. The timing of when the exam was taken was also not associated with significant differences between scores.
Conclusions: Interactive study options offer the best choice to improve USMLE Step 1 scores.
I was very unsure of the real value of this paper. In part it supports what is already known but also seems to place great importance on studying for an exam using pre-prepared exam material in similar format to the real examination. I would have thought that greater discussion would arise in considering the true value that these results give- are they of a great predictive value or are they just a psychological support to the better student?
For me the data presented in the paper did not give any new aspects how to prepare best for USMLE 1 exam. I am also not sure what the authors mean with the conclusion that "Interactive study options offer the best choice to improve USMLE Step 1 scores".
The strength of this paper is that they got almost 100% of their students to participate. There is a strong obvious message. The one consistent fact is that those who do well in medical school do well at USMLE 1 exam. Commercial courses do not make up for proper study and participation in learning.