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Very mixed feelings after I wrote Step 2 CK

April 10, 2009

The exam is over, but I didn’t come out of the test with good feelings. First of all I kind of didn’t have a good grip on step 2 ck during the whole preparation. I needed more time and as askdoc said to me, I probably had to postpone the exam and go over the material again to clarify some difficulties w/ next best step, next best diagnostic step, and next best treatment step. For many different reasons, I couldn’t invest more time and had to go to the exam very focused and hoping for the best.

Everything was fine up to the moment when for some stupid reason I decided to check out the sound of the headphones following the first few steps of the tutorial, which of course I was planning to skip in order to save 15 minutes. The rest of the story you can read at the end of this post.  I sent a complain to Prometric, despite the fact that I will not get anything back. Prometric answered me that I have to contact NBME, because they got paid for the exam. Pain in the neck, and actually who cares, the exam is over and nothing can be changed. Of course, I don’t blame this little unexpected event for my poor performance, but it was an additional negative component to not that great preparation.

The exam itsef wasn’t that bad. The first 2 blocks were OK, the 3rd one tougher w/ more vague Qs, 4th and 5th very difficult, 6th,7th,and 8th were OK too. In general, fair amount of easy Qs.

What I learned from step 2 CK. Very important is to start your preparation in the right way. If you don’t, no matter how much you study you will never ace on that exam. Not a tough exam, tricky indeed, but again do more reaserch on how to study and what to study. If you want to know how to study and which material to use for step 2 ck, don’t ask me ask askdoc, the only person who knows about USMLE more than the people creating the exams.

This is the letter I send to Prometric:

On April 05/2009 I had USMLE step 2 exam at 5113 Prometric test center. I wanted to skip the 15 minutes tutorial and save that time for break, which is a usual practice on long exams like USMLE. This 15 more minutes actually make a big difference when your break time is only 45 minutes for a long and tiring 9 hours exam. I logged in and when the program asked me to check the sound of the headphones, I found out that the headphones don’t work. I even didn’t need sound that much (there are only 3-4 questions with audio, but there is enough information in the stem of the question and one should answer the question correctly without audio), but for some reason I let the staff know about the problem. They couldn’t make the headphones work. My test time was running.

I started getting nervous and said to them, “It’s OK, I don’t need sound, I will be fine, let me start the test”. Then, the staff member just shut down the computer and without giving me any explanation said, “We will move you to another computer, because the headphones don’t work”. I didn’t want to move, I was fine with this spot, but what can I do. They moved me. I asked her, “Are you going to reset the timer of my session?” I didn’t get a clear answer, because she went to staff room to start the exam on the new computer. I guessed she will reset the timer.

She came back and we checked the headphones together. The audio was fine this time despite the fact that I didn’t need it, and she left. When I entered again my serial number for the test, I noticed that nothing was reset and I am already 15 minutes behind even before the start of the first block with questions. There was no more time to waste. Obviously I had to start doing the test, otherwise it could become even worse. It was really nerve-racking situation. Everything went in the wrong direction. I lost my focus, and couldn’t concentrate up to the 6 block of the test, which is going to lower my score significantly, and that low score will have negative impact on my residency application. I didn’t perform well as I was prepared. In stressful and important situation little things make big difference.

Anyways, the exam is over. I had really bad experience with Prometric. It is really frustrating after more than one year of preparation and so much efforts and money, because of little technical issue and not very competent staff to loose points on important exams like USMLE, which is the longest of all exams in the center. I did my part of the contract with Prometric test center. I paid the money, I was at the test center on time, I had with me all the necessary documents and forms. I just went there to write the exam and expected that Prometric will assure great quality of service. Unfortunately, the service wasn’t great.

I am very disappointed and want to be compensated somehow.

And this is their answer:

This confirms receipt of your refund request.

After reviewing your request we have determined that a refund is not available due to:

__XX___Other: We appreciate your feedback and sincerely apologize for the disappointment you feel in our customer service. Prometric strives to uphold the utmost in customer satisfaction.  Unfortunately, the fees are collected by the client, not by Prometric. Please contact NBME at or215-590-9700.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2009 5:22 pm

    Incredible, I’m sorry this happened!

  2. PrometricTECH permalink
    July 6, 2009 12:54 pm

    I am a prometric site technician. If sound does not work the center did what they are directed to do. PLEASE do not skip the tutorial. here is what happens : testers get to a point in the test where they do not know what to do and how to proceed. THE STAFF cannot help you! If you proceed with no sound and fail you WILL challenge the score due to the technical problem, testers ALWAYS do! then NBME comes down HARD on prometric. The staff have very defined rules they must follow !
    If you were at a site I built there would have been no sound problems.
    Staff probably had the headsets in the wrong ports ,they are not technicians. And yes you have to contact NBME when many exam repalted problems occurr. Those rules are set by the client ,in this case NBME.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2014 1:10 pm

    This is reaaaallllly horrible.
    Yesterday I did my CK and I can totally relate with what you said.
    In my case the lady who checked me in every time was not doing her job. Once she was talking on the phone and asked me to wait when I wanted to sign out and go use limited minutes of my break. Another time she was walking inside the test room checking computers and even though she saw that I am standing out of the exam room, waiting to be checked in again to continue my exam she didn’t come back to her desk and for like 2 mintues she was checking the computers and I had to stand there wait and their finger print device didn’t work and she had to double check the computer each time … I was frustrated.. you can imagine how that lead to me running short of break time and I had to go through the q s fast inorder to win some break time…

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