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USMLE - Nobody wears a white coat any more... — LiveJournal
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
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iliana_sedai From: iliana_sedai Date: May 24th, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
The longer a test is around, the more elaborate the schemes that people devise to either get around them, or to do really well. And after a while, they are no longer testing honest knowledge or ability, but strategic planning. And the strategic planning often has a direct association with money.

Walk into the college counseling office of, say, a long-standing East Coast boarding school, and I can guess they've been telling their kids to take that SAT four, five, six times. I've looked at the score progression and seen them jump ... 900... 1100... 1200... 1400... w00t! 1550! (And now, I suppose the score has 800 more points these days.) Pour enough money into a kid and you can make any average kid look smart. But after that, the test results in no way reflect what they were intended to measure.

Same with the USMLE. The study plans become more elaborate, more time-consuming, and more expensive over the years. The test changes, then eventually the industries -- both the test-taking industry and the medical schools -- slowly adapt themselves and find strategies to overcome the test. So that, at the end of the day, the test has very little real value in describing what you know or in teaching you anything at all. It just shows how good you are at digging up the dirt on how to score well (either by paying Kaplan or doing Internet research), and how much time and money you spent.

There are better ways to do this and many other things.
leon03 From: leon03 Date: May 24th, 2005 10:55 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
I doubt that a score progression like that over a single year is common. A couple years, perhaps. I took the SAT in 7th grade and got a 1100, again as a sophomore and got a 1250-ish and in the fall of my senior year I achieved a 1450, though I never really focused on SAT-specific preparation. Maybe these schools are encouraging their students to take the SAT once or twice every year in high school, and combining that with specific preparation.

Strategic planning has a connection to honest knowledge, and the strength of this connection depends on the test. This isn't so strong on the SAT, and I don't know about the USMLE. However, when it comes to say, the AIME, the USAMO, or the Putnam Exam, all prestigious math tests, the connection is very strong. In fact, in this context I can barely see a difference between the two in this context, as you need a great deal of honest knowledge as well as a certain amount of "strategic" preparation.
12 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word