With so much going on in the world at the moment, many students' heads feel like they're spinning — especially with the temporary Prometric Center closures.
We've been getting a number of questions about how to handle this unexpected delay, and one of our veteran USMLE tutors put together a short video with some DO's and DON'Ts to help give you some tangible pointers for this time. We've embedded the video below, and we've also included the transcript in case you aren't able to watch a video at this time.
Lastly, we're regularly updating this post with any official updates, so be sure to scroll all the way down.
As some of you may have heard, Prometric Centers are closing for approximately 30 days, and I wanted to share some tips for how to retain knowledge and fight off attrition for students for whom their exam falls during this closure window.
First of all I really want to emphasize that everyone’s situation is unique and you should connect with mentors and trusted academic advisors at your school who know how the dynamics of your Step examination will fit in with the rest of your education, the start of clinical clerkships, etc.
Also, these are really uncertain times and feeling anxious or apprehensive is totally normal. There are a lot of unknowns and ultimately we’re all just wishing you and your loved ones safety during this time.
Now for some Do’s and Don’ts revolving around wellness, content, schedules, as well as practice exams:
The first “do” is: DO take a day off and breathe.
With this delay, there’s going to be a lot of stress. Taking time to focus on your wellness — including your sleep, your nutrition, your exercise — and connecting in a safe way with loved ones while practicing social distancing will be really important.
That being said, DON’T stop studying altogether.
This is really an opportunity to catch up if you’re behind on your schedule or really to get ahead. As a general principle, the more passes you have through that material — whether it’s reading First Aid, doing a question bank, resetting UWorld, adding another question bank — this all contributes to Step 1 knowledge becoming sort of second nature so you can apply it during your actual examination.
A few more specific points to consider:
The first is you really don’t want to be using up all of your practice exams. For those who had a nicely organized study schedule, consider spacing out practice exams so you’re able to do them on a regular basis despite the longer time frame for your studying with the Prometric closing.
Secondly, if you find that you were on track to finish all of your resources and you find that you have extra time — and if memorization is something that could use some improvement — consider adding on a flashcard platform. Anki has numerous high quality decks online, and there are other platforms that you might consider. But don’t let this detract from the schedule you already had in place.
Thirdly, DO take some time to plan. Do the math with respect to how much of the content you need to be covering each day, assuming that the Prometric Centers open in a little under a month. And it’s important to be reevaluating this plan on a regular basis. So, going frequently to the NBME website, to the Prometric website, and following them on your social media platform of choice, can be a way to make sure that your plans and the evolving situation are aligned.
Lastly, and kind of going full circle back to wellness, if studying in groups was a way that kept you accountable, and that enhanced your ability to teach others and learn from others, definitely keep that going. It is imperative for us to protect our public health, so using platforms such as video conferencing sites, can be a good way to keep that momentum going.
Again, these have been some pretty general pointers. Each of your situations might have unique nuances, and I encourage you all to contact us via email, social media or via the phone if you’d like to discuss your specific situation further.
With that, I want to wish everyone best of luck both with the exam, with med school and with life. Ultimately, we’re all in this together.
--ADDITIONAL UPDATES & FAQ--
Eligibility Period Extensions and Testing Region Changes
Per the USMLE update on March 13th, 2020, the FSMB and NBME (the sponsors of the USMLE) agreed to waive fees for these eligibility period extensions and testing region changes. You can see the official update here.
When are the Prometric Centers and CSEC Test Centers scheduled to reopen?
As of March 18th, 2020, the Prometric Centers and CSEC Testing Centers are scheduled to reopen the week of April 13th, 2020. Time will tell if the centers will reopen as planned during the week of April 13th, 2020.
In the meantime, the NBME is exploring "remote proctoring solutions for subject exams" and "alternate delivery options for products and services."
For the most up-to-date information, we strongly recommend following/subscribing to the Prometric Centers, CSEC Testing Centers, USMLE Announcements, the NBME website and Twitter account, and check back here.
Will the USMLE Step 1 Pass/Fail change happen sooner?
Per the USMLE, no. The soonest this change will happen is January 1st, 2022. The change to pass/fail for the USMLE Step 1 has wide-reaching impacts, so we strongly believe that the decision will not be accelerated — especially because so much has already been destabilized by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
As things continue to unfold, we will be here to help guide you through this challenging time — whether you're working with us for tutoring or just want to hear a friendly, knowledgeable voice. Don't hesitate to reach out, and if you'd like us to cover a particular topic, let us know in the comments below or by emailing us at HQ@medschooltutors.com. Onward and upward!