Conrad Hawkins – USMLE Step 2CS Experience
PASSED ( on FSMB ? ) .. still can’t believe it. LOL
Prep time : 15 days
Sources: FA and Gold USMLE Review. Not advertising, but I attended some other prep course in NY last year (that I refuse to name). Hands down, Gold’s lives up to it’s name and is absolutely worth all the hype. They prepare you for the exam in and out. Of course, I don’t think a prep course is necessary, but I was not willing to take chances and wanted to clear the exam in one shot, so if you are not confident, go for a prep course.
Location: Houston. So the test is a standardised one, doesn’t matter where you take it. But for IMGs, Houston is the top choice as the SPs are more familiar with the accent and it’s easy to find people to practice with at one of the two hotels (Red lion/Red roof).
Study Partner: So I have the same study partner since early med-school, who also happens to be my best friend, whom I would like to thank. This wouldn’t have been possible without you my friend ( you know who you are )?. I advice you start the prep with somebody along right from the beginning and ask them to be as brutal as they can.
Prep Phase: practiced all the cases from FA twice. Learnt the mini-cases thoroughly before practicing, so I know which tests to order and which differentials to consider. Practiced 8-10 cases/day. Before starting the cases daily, practiced all the physical examination from head to toe with the instructions. You learn as much by being the SP as you do by being the attending doctor/actor ?
Typed patient notes for the first time in GOLD’s practice test ( 10 days before the real exam ) and then directly 3 days before the exam. But I say avoid this. Practice the notes from day 1. As I had a good typing speed, but my study partner didn’t. So if you feel you are slow at typing.. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.
Day before the exam: Stopped studying at 8 pm. Had light dinner. Went to bed at 10:30 pm. Din’t fall asleep until 12:30 as I was having a lil chat with my anxiety ?
Exam Day: woke up at 6:30 am. Reached the location by 7:50 am. The whole process began smoothly. Proctors were nice and friendly.
CASE 1: Was nothing like what I expected. Even though the case was easy, my nerves got to me. I was flustered and had no track of time. Couldn’t close.
Rest of the cases: Got myself together and didn’t let the first case bring me down. Made some tiny mistakes in almost all cases, but made a blunder in my last case- Forgot to check vitals from the doorway information and to my luck the BP was 180/120 mmHg.
Finished all my notes (but had only 2 diagnosis in most cases)
Had mixed feelings after the exam. LITERALLY HAD PTSD, had flashbacks in my sleep. Still remember all their faces. LOL !
It’s definitely doable. But slap the ones that tell you to just be nice to the SP and have decent English as the essentials for the exam.
Hope this was helpful. All the best.