A little over two weeks ago I took Step 2. About two weeks from now I should receive my score. Neither of these two events particularly matter, considering Step 2 is largely a test that exists so that you can pay money to the testing service.
As I wrote before, I took a month to study for Step 2. This was wholly unnecessary and primarily allowed me to work my way through two sci-fi books, catch the 5:00 airing of Jeopardy! most days, and watch a sizeable percentage of the third season of Archer.
I also went to hang out in the emergency room one afternoon because my spidey-sense told me there was an abscess that needed draining.
I was right. It was gloriously disgusting.
Anyway. Many people, approximately 98% of whom are related to me and thus required to do so, have asked me how the test went. So here is a brief recap.
Ha ha. Brief. The first thing you should know is that Step 2 is an astounding NINE HOURS LONG. Nine hours! There are eight “blocks” of questions, with around 45-50 items in each block, and an hour’s worth of break time built in for you to allocate as you choose.
As I wrote before when explaining TTTSNBN, I had to repeat the fingerprinting and crotch-wanding exercise that I did before – every time I signed in and out of the room. The testing center had probably fifteen or twenty cubicles in it, full of people taking other tests far shorter than my own.
One thing I should note is that my eyes have started to go bad after seven LASIK-created years of 20/20 vision. I thus had to blow up the font on my screen to Jitterbug-sized, 48-point font just to be able to read without leaning forward on my elbows for the entire day and inducing an episode of torticollis. When anyone returned from a break, they’d walk down the row and see screens of normal-sized font before passing Nate’s Computer, which had a question in huge letters asking,
“What is the most likely cause of this patient’s penis ulcer?”
Of course there was an accompanying 300%-zoomed in picture. I will spare you this picture here, although mostly to avoid being filtered from Google search results.
I don’t remember much about the actual test, chiefly because it was so long that by the time I hit the third section (remember, of eight) I stopped reading questions and was seeking out random buzzwords. I believe I answered “start a statin” (a cholesterol medication) for a question asking about a patient with an infected eyeball.
I believe, in retrospect, that was incorrect.
That said, the test was essentially as expected – like an incredibly long shelf exam, similar to the one we take at the conclusion of each rotation during second year. It helped that, unlike TTTSNBN, the entirety of my medical future does not rest upon results from this test, probably because blatant money grabs are held in some circles to be less than ideal evaluative methods for residencies.
At one point, during a break I walked out of the building to get some fresh air and stood on the sidewalk, vacantly munching on an energy bar I had picked up on the way in that tasted vaguely like mulch. A random stranger – this is in Washington D.C., mind you, not exactly the friendliest place in the universe – stopped and asked me if I was okay because “you look like you’ve just come out of a war zone.”
I smiled and nodded politely and babbled something incoherent about Turner Syndrome.
(There was, unbelievably, no Turner Syndrome questions on my exam. This, of course, represents my stone cold guarantee that I missed at least 1 question about Turner Syndrome on the exam.)
By the time I reached Block 8, I was clicking through questions with my chin resting on the table. I couldn’t really read the questions anyway and mostly checked random boxes through the last twenty questions or so.
When you finish the exam, you can’t even leave yet – the USMLE* requires that you fill out a survey about the test.
*(all hail USMLE! praised be to Them, Terminators of the Test Irregularity, Champions of the Copyright, King of the North America, all hail USMLE! please don’t fail me on step 2)
Obviously a survey is the absolute last thing I would want to do, besides possibly another block of questions. I checked all of the required boxes and wrote in to the free text boxes, “I hate you.”
Quality improve that. Ha.
I went home, ate a steak, drank a beer, and was asleep by 8pm. I slept thirteen hours and woke up with no memory of the previous 24.
One last thing: When I was checking out (and getting crotch wanded one blessedly final time), I asked the proctor what the longest test they administered was. His response: “The USMLE Step 3.”