Are study strategies related to medical licensing exam performance?

Courtney West1, Terri Kurz1, Sherry Smith2 and Lori Graham1

1Office of Medical Education, Department of Internal Medicine, Texas A&M University, Health Science Center, College of Medicine, USA

2Office of Medical Education, Texas A&M University, Health Science Center, College of Medicine, USA

Submitted: 27/07/2014; Accepted: 11/10/2014; Published: 02/11/2014

Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5:199-204; doi: 10.5116/ijme.5439.6491

© 2014 Courtney West et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To examine the relationship between study strategies and performance on a high stakes medical licensing exam entitled the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1.

Methods: The action research project included seventy nine student participants at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine during their pre-clinical education. Data collection included pre-matriculation and matriculation academic performance data, standardized exam data, and the Learning and Study Strategies Instrument. Multiple regression analyses were conducted. For both models, the dependent variable was the Step 1 score, and the independent variables included Medical College Admission Test, Undergraduate Grade Point Average, Year 1 Average, Year 2 Average, Customized National Board of Medical Examiners Average, Comprehensive Basic Science Exam score, and Learning and Study Strategy Instrument sub-scores. Model 2 added Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment average.

Results: Concentration (Model 1 - β = .264; Model 2 - β = .254) was the only study strategy correlated with Step 1 performance. The other statistically significant predictors were Customized National Board of Medical Examiners Average (β = .315) and Year 2 Average (β = .280) in Model 1 and Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment Average (β = .338) in Model 2.

Conclusions: There does appear to be a relationship between the study strategy concentration and Step 1 licensing exam performance. Teaching students to practice and utilize certain techniques to improve concentration skills when preparing for and taking exams may help improve licensing exam scores.