Medical Student Forums > Board Exams (USMLE/PLAB/MRCP)



USMLE to this day ranks as one of the most difficult exams to perform well in.  If you passed the USMLE without a high high score, you have just destroyed your medical career.  A failing grade in USMLE means that you can take the exam again, a low pass means you are screwed for life.  Some of the highest grade study materials can be cound at .  If you had a choice between a top rank in the USMLE and an olympic gold, pick by all means the top rank in USMLE.  The number of quality training positions have declined in the last several years due to a variety of factors, and at the same time competition for these positions has become extraordinarily competitive.  You are competing with the best of the best, the finest doctors who have graduated from the stellar medical schools of North America, Europe and Asia.  There is a tremendous amount of medical knowledge that you have to master to compete in the USMLE, and the trick is to know what exactly to learn, because time is limited and you are only a mortal, not a supercomputer that can chew up terabytes of information.  The NMS series is traditional and solid material, we recommend that to everyone, it is a must read if you are seriously competing.  The most valuable things in life take a lot of hard work, and that will not come easy, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication.  The USMLE exam is so difficult that I would advise anyone serious about it to dedicate an entire year to prepare for it.  Because you  are competing in what is essentially an international tournament, where it is very hard to be at the top.  There are so many review softwares and books on the market that anyone will be easily confused as to which book to use or which software to use, especially since most of us do not have unlimited cash on hand.  What really matters is how much of the prep material that you read is really retained in your mind.  I have been buying most of my medical books and courses used from ebay, and some new software for USMLE prep from  I found it a bit amusing that the website that provides all of these USMLE software downloads calls itself .  But then these software guys are always a little weird, my husband is also one of them !
I know many intelligent people who have ruined their medical career forever by passing USMLE with a low score, instead of the top score that it needs.  One of them, a distinguished doctor from Ukraine now works in a factory, where is medical knowledge and training from one of the world's finest medical colleges is totally wasted.  Rejection after rejection from various residency programs has finally broken his spirit.  I counsel all doctors, that if after the USMLE exam you have a queasy feeling about it, ask for a cancellation of the exam and ask to re-take the exam, it is better than getting a low score and getting permanently locked out of the system.  This is one of the few things in life that you absolutely must get right.  Do not try to be frugal when it comes to spending money on exam stuff, you need the best books and software.  If you are short of money, still be sure to buy the USMLE software series at and the USMLE firstaid books on  If you have a megabudget, also buy the Kaplan course and consider attending in person.  You may be able to find a used set on ebay.  All the hardwork and dedication you pour into the USMLE exam will pay off richly in the future.


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