Here are some common-sense tips you should be sure you follow that may help you to reduce stress and score higher when you take your United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step examinations. You should be doing everything within your control to minimize your stress and the risk of being late for the examination. Again, these are common sense and if you have taken a lot of standardized examinations, you may already be aware of these.
1. Do not plan on driving to the test site from your home the morning of the examination even if you leave in the same city as the testing center.
a. Unexpected car problems could occur.
b. Traffic backups and delays always occur.
c. Accidents always happen.
d. Road problems, construction delays, and detours are common.
Eliminate these unnecessary risks.
2. Find the hotel closest to the testing center and stay there the night before the test. Hopefully, this will be within walking distance of the test site if it is necessary to walk there.
3. Read all of the applicable testing procedures, the applicable USMLE and/or Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates ( ECFMG) Handbook, Guidelines and Procedures again the day before the examination you are taking. You signed an agreement to be bound by these and you are expected to know these for the examination. Be sure you understand how scheduled and unscheduled breaks work, how the time is accounted and what you are allowed to do and prohibited from doing on breaks.
4. Make sure you know ahead of time exactly how much time you will be given for each part of the examination and for breaks, Be sure you have calculated how much time you have for each question on each section of the examination, answer within the times you have calculated and move on through the examination in a timely manner.
5. Do not let other occurrences and disturbances in the testing center upset you or distract you.
6. If some extremely disruptive event occurs, for example, fire alarms and evacuations taking place, other examination takers having seizures and being removed by paramedics, etc., consider leaving and taking an incomplete on this examination. Be sure to ask the test center monitors/proctors to file an incident report on what occurred at the test center, Then, within 24 hours, write to the USMLE and ECFMG and advise the organization of exactly what happened and why you had to leave.
7. Bring your own lunch, snacks, and beverages, including something like energy bars or chocolate bars, to provide needed sustenance. Do not leave the testing center for lunch unless you absolutely have to, and then, stay local and on foot. Do not take the risk of driving someplace and back.
8. If a certain testing center has a bad reputation for being a poor testing site or having frequent computer failures, schedule to take the test at a site in another city or state. Travel there and stay at a hotel within walking distance of the test site, perhaps a few days before the examination date. You can then use the additional time and isolation for additional studying and test preparation.
9. Do not refer to or use any cell phone, tablet or personal device while the test is still underway. Be sure you are familiar with all test-taking procedures.
10. To avoid any risks of misunderstandings, do not write down anything during the examination or about the examination at the testing center. Outside during lunch, may be okay; otherwise, wait till you get back home.
Although common sense, you would be surprised at how many test-takers violate these common-sense tips and then suffer from the consequences.
Plan for and have as stress-free of an examination as you can. Control the controllable.
For more helpful tips and to learn more about examples of “Irregular Behavior,” click here to read my prior blog.
Additionally, click here to view one of our blogs on our experience with the USMLE, ECFMG, and NBME, and Hearings on “Irregular Behavior.”
Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education, and those being challenged by the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters. We routinely help those who have disputes with the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), including on hearings and appeals concerning “Irregular Behavior,” “unprofessionalism,” and “Irregular Conduct.”
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About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620
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