Sunday, May 20, 2007

Change in Step 1 Minimum Passing Score

The Step 1 Committee decided to raise the three-digit score recommended to pass Step 1 from 182 to 185. The new minimum passing score will be applied to Step 1 examinations for which the first day of testing is on or after January 1, 2007.

Kaplan Step 1 Video - 2007 edition

Step 1 In-center Video Lectures (2007)

Kaplan recently updated all of its video. The content is now available on videos instead of old fashioned tape library. Good for all USMLE takers. Now you can watch the Kaplan USMLE DVDs on your computer.

Newly Filmed Content

  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
Read here about details of the changes in 2007 Kaplan videos:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Youel Step 2 Videos

I am receiving a lot of inquiries about Youel prep Videos for Step 2.
So I want to tell the facts I know about Youel Videos and then invite for your comments/feedback.

Youel is respected by many students for the quality of the lectures. Some say that Youel is much better than Kaplan for Step 2.

It is just 40 hours of high-yield review and covers the following topics:
EKG & Cardiology
Fundamental Facts
History & Physical
Lab tests
Medical Ethics
Symptoms, Signs, Syndromes
X-Rays & Pulmonary Disease

More information can be found here:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kaplan Med Essentials

Organized by organ system, the medEssentials book reinforces key ideas and concepts essential to your med school studies. Later, it can be used as a personalized guidebook for board preparation.

Download Kaplan Med Essentials now

USMLE Scoring - 2 digits vs. 3 digits

The USMLE phased out the use of a percentile based system in 1999. A score report is given as a three-digit and two-digit score. The three-digit score reflects the number of correct questions and the two-digit score is a representation of the three-digit score on a scale of 100%. A score of 182 or greater is required to pass. Those who take the exam on or after January 1, 2007, will need a score of 185 to pass in the exam. The national yearly average usually is around 220 with a standard deviation of around 20. Many residency programs have cutoffs for Step 1 scores below which applicants are unlikely to be interviewed.

Friday, May 04, 2007

General Hints for USMLE Step 3 CCS exam

General Hints for CCS

The part that is problematic with most people is the case simulation part. Below I will list a few hints of how to succeed.

You will have plenty of time to complete each case. 25 minutes of testing time is available. In the end you have to write your diagnosis. Obviously this test will have more common diseases, so thing about those first. Second, think what you would do if it was a real patient. This helped me a lot during the exam. The test also wants to make sure you are practicing safe medicine, so stay away from anything dangerous, especially drugs with too much toxicity, surgery without confirmatory tests and such.


In order to decide where to best treat the patient (office, ICU, ward), you have to determine 2 aspects: how sick is the patient and how rapidly does it have to be treated.

  • Vital signs: watch for tachycardia, bradycardia and extremes in blood pressure. Also tachypnea should point to something more severe.
  • Complaint or symptoms: severe pain, shortness of breath should raise red-flags.
  • Age: very young and very old people tend to need to be hospitalized.
  • Instability: any unstable vital signs, fluctuating levels of consciousness, severe blood loss should prompt an ICU admission.


For most people that have not had medical training in the US this might be a problem. To order medications you do NOT have to know the dose. You can write common tradenames and generic names. Also, consultation can be obtained, and these take little time. Remember about vital signs / ECG monitors, oxygen.

Radiology and Laboratory tests

Know why you are ordering every test. It seems trivial, but do not order something unless it is going to help you with the diagnosis. All tests in Step 3 take considerable time, even days. The less common the test you order, the more you will wait for a result.

Follow-up and interim histories

The system will not penalize you for seeing your patients too often. If you do not know how often to see patients, in hospital usually once a day. The system will let you know of new test results and developments in the case.