A note on Prodigy's "PACES" program:
It is a great idea and a lot of work has been put in to it. But not enough hard work.
It looks good, and you'll like the way it works. Questions are good and rationals are given with references. The tools for analyzing your performance are a great idea. But read on...
After the first couple of tests you'll notice that what started out as a few tolerable typos has become a pattern of mistakes. Questions will be keyed incorrectly (as evidenced by the rational stated in the answer) many times. Solid references are sharing space with secondary sources. One question was referenced to a source from 1997. Another answer's sole reference is a Wikipedia article (no joke). Several times the live score tracker on the side of the screen has said something ridiculous like "7 out of 5 correct."
But to me, these obvious errors aren't as problematic as some of the more subtle errors in the tests. For example, a question asks about changes in the arterial waveform at the dorsalis pedis. The answer is keyed as "increase in systolic pressure," and the reference is given as M&M p. 119. You go to that page and sure enough, that's what it says. But another option in the test was "decrease in diastolic pressure." One would deduce that this answer is wrong since it wasn't a multiple response question. But with a careful reading of the reference you might notice that M&M doesn't say anything about the diastolic pressure. However, Barash states (in the caption to figure 30-17 on p. 877) that although SBP is increased, DBP and MAP are both decreased. So PACES is incorrect, but if you didn't know that it was wrong you could very well move along to the next question thinking "ok, systolic increased, diastolic not decreased, says so in M&M, got it!"
-Drag/drop questions don't function correctly in the Mac version
-800 questions is questionable: several questions come up over and over again with only small changes to the questions/answers. Had the exact word for word question twice in a row in one test. There are 6 exams (always the same) with 100 questions each. I'm not sure where those other 200 questions are.
-If you save an exam, it saves your score. But when you load the saved exam you start from the 1st question, so you answer the same questions more than once. In other words, it totally screws up the scoring system.
So yeah, it is good for getting you to think about different subjects/topics. But the key is so screwed up that it is useless for analyzing your knowledge. Most of you are type A, details-oriented people, so the spelling
will drive you nuts. You cannot trust Prodigy's answers, so if you're unsure you have to look it up yourself. It's absolutely not worth $200.
I should add that I emailed Prodigy about my complaints, and got an email back in about 48 hours saying they would consider my issues and get back to me shortly. That was three months ago.
An updated version (2.9) of the software came out this month. None of my issues had been fixed (except that they updated many references to reflect the most current edition - the 1997 reference and the Wikipedia article are still there). They claim that they updated the content to reflect the 2010 candidate manual, but they haven't removed or changed questions about non-testable drugs, etc.
These guys are making money with this half-baked product, so they have no motivation to fix it. They don't give refunds, so unless you have money to burn I'd look elsewhere. Maybe if their sales go down these guys will make an attempt to fix their reputation by fixing their product.
Like I said, it's a great idea.