What Questions Every USMLE Practice Questionnaire Should Have
People often comment that something isn’t brain surgery. The point of a comment like that is to stress that even a very difficult situation can’t match up to the complexity of neurology. But that brings up an interesting point. What happens when something is just as difficult as neurology because that’s the subject hand? This is something everyone studying for the USMLE needs to consider.
The neurology portion of the USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Examination, is one of the most challenging elements. But there are some other ways of looking at the situation. And in particular, one should consider which questions a USMLE practice Questionnaire should have. In understanding that one can properly prepare for it.
One of the first things to keep in mind is that the questions aren’t going to be spoon fed. One can often gauge the accuracy of practice questions by their difficulty. In particular, how much they rely on medical terminology and math. The USMLE neurology practice questions should make basic assumptions about the overall level of medical literacy of anyone reading them.
For example, metric will be an automatic assumption in questions. That doesn’t always mean that a question will only use metric though. In fact, this is a common way that questions can be phrased in a way to trip up someone taking a test. It’s important to keep in mind that metric measurements are the standard in science and medicine. However, many countries use metric in medicine but imperial or other systems in daily life. This leads to difficult situations where one is essentially forced to convert values on the fly. One then needs to perform calculations with those converted numbers and variables. And finally, one will convert them for better discussion with a patient who doesn’t use metric in their daily life.
It’s quite common for test questions to intentionally mix different systems of measurement in order to trip people up. Likewise it’s not uncommon for test questions to switch between common medical abbreviations and the full names. For example, a question might refer to the same substance as acetylcholinesterase, AChE, or both. This leads to another element of USMLE neurology practice questions to keep in mind. The questions aren’t going to be fair.
Basically, the questions aren’t trying to test someone on book learning alone. This is an obvious limitation of a test. One can’t just toss someone into a situation where they need to think on their feet. The test tries to simulate this by creating overly complex situations within text. One probably won’t face very many real life situations which match up to the most complex questions. But that’s not really the point of how the questions were designed in the first place.
The most complex neurology questions are framed in a way that essentially makes one have to juggle a myriad of different factors at the same time. The rapid number of conversions or seemingly opposing ideas are there to confuse one in the same way that an overly hectic environment in the real world would. One can prepare for these in a similar way. When reading through the test questions one can try to capture a sense of calm. This is the calm one would need in the real world if pressed for an answer at the drop of a hat.
Answering the questions requires calm in the midst of confusion. Likewise, it means that one needs to be able to think on his feet and find connections when none might seem to exist at first. Sometimes there isn’t even a right answer on the test. Instead there are answers which are closer to a somewhat platonic ideal of a correct answer than the others. Matching up psychological disorders to neurological injury are an example here. One can’t do so perfectly from a simple text description. But one can provide answers which have a higher probability of accuracy.