Kill USMLE STEP 1 BY THIS BOOK
Easier said than done, but I think it's a really important thing to remember. I started studying much earlier than most people, doing some boards studying almost every day of M2, but then didn't have to work as hard and cram during dedicated time.
Words of Wisdom
This suited me but is not at all what I would recommend for everybody. You know yourself better than anybody, and you know how is best to study for you. Also, pick only a few resources and stick with those. Just because your friend is using this or that, does not mean that you need to use every resource that other students are using. My recommendation would be to use First Aid, UWorld and one more.
But again, everybody is different and if you feel like you need a little bit of extra than that for one or more of the organ systems, then go for it. When I sat down to take the test, right before clicking start I had this rush of anxiety. The last few months I had spent trying to predict which questions I would see, and I was about to find it and it was nerve-racking. So on the day of your test, remember to not change any of your strategies.
The test is exactly like the stuff you've prepared for, so don't change anything. Set a test date and don't change it. If you give yourself the luxury of having the option to change your test date, you might slack off and not study as hard as you could. Commit to a date, work hard, work efficiently and believe you will perform when the time comes.
Do not be afraid of taking less time to study than others. If I had pushed it back at all, I would have without a doubt hit diminishing returns on my studying and missed out on a fun trip with my friends. Take days off. It is a really long haul, and you need to take care of yourself.
I did only half days of studying on the weekends and then would do something fun, work out, hang out with my boyfriend, etc. It can be hard to take time off, because there's always something else to do, but you will burn out. Also, it's impossible, but try not to let NBMEs discourage you. I know that it's not always true, but those scores were not indicative for me, and I wish that someone had told me that it's important to consider not just what you get on an NBME, but also how you're doing on UWorld and take the whole picture into account and try not to let it get you too down easier said than done though.
Be flexible with your schedule. It's easy to get stressed if you get behind schedule and to not let yourself do non-studying activities because you're so caught up in staying exactly on schedule. You don't need to. By the last weeks, you'll have things that are getting repetitive and you can drop and then catch up in other areas. Be selfish during dedicated time. That sounds like weird advice, but it's advice that my mom gave me during the first week and it was so important.
I had a trip planned to visit friends during the middle of dedicated time as well as a family weekend, and I felt too guilty to cancel them but also stressed about doing all that while also studying enough. Just remember that your friends and family will understand and want to support you, and it's okay to be a bad friend for a month.
Your sanity and studying comes first. Just be open about it, and everyone will understand. On the flipside, friends and family can be a huge resource during this time. It's nice to either see or talk on the phone with people who aren't in Step mode and be reminded that there's a whole world outside of First Aid. Trust your preparation going into the test, and be confident.
My best advice would be to relax, which is easier said than done.
A memorable USMLE Step 1 guide by Dr. Ansab Jalil - Learni
The test is hard. There are things you won't know. There are things that you do know but will forget after five hours and questions. Just realize this early and don't let it scare you.
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For me this was comforting, took some of the pressure off and made the whole process of studying and taking the test more bearable, and I think that the lower stress level helped me in the end. NBME will always find something to ask that you just haven't heard of, so just realize that you can't get them all and that no one will. Similarly, try to think about things in a way that will help you third year.
Organize differentials, try to understand mechanisms and build some system to understand conditions and treatments that isn't based on buzzwords. If you hit something you've never seen, as often happens, this understanding will hopefully serve you well, as well as help you out next year. The most important thing to take care of during dedicated time is managing your anxiety. Having a routine helps greatly with this. I would usually get up around 7 or 8 a. I would start my day with two to four UWorld blocks because I was always the most focused in the morning.
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I would try to be done reviewing the blocks my early afternoon. At that point, I would take a lunch break and go for a run.
I would never study past 7 or 8 p. It is also totally okay to take a full or half day off once a week. You will never feel like you know every detail about everything, or even most details, but at a certain point you will take the test and you will do well if you pick a plan and stick to it.
I would not change much from what I did. I started seriously studying early Thanksgiving Break and got through one pass of First Aid, Pathoma and UWorld before dedicated period began. This allowed me to relax and pick out the material I was weakest in during dedicated. Plan out a realistic schedule ahead of time and stick to it, start studying seriously and early and use a limited number of resources.
Many people feel the need to try out several different resources. I suggest sticking to the few resources three to four that are most highly rated and master those as opposed to adequately studying too many resources. While you should listen to people's advice, you know yourself best and the way you are most productive studying. Don't be stressed by how other people are studying or what other people tell you to be doing to study.
Be confident and do what works best for you. You will be okay. Just do your best with First Aid and UWorld and remember you will inevitably one day be a doctor. You do not need to be miserable during M2 year or the boards studying period. Don't buy into the neurosis. Work hard but don't stress. Get plenty of sleep and exercise both augment memory, improve mood and reduce stress and at least once a week get some exposure to the outside world. Spend time with friends outside of medicine or spend an evening once a week watching a movie.
The point is not to obsess about the boards constantly.
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I have some peers who did well on the exam who disagreed with me on this last point, but I really believe that it was important in helping me succeed. Remember that the boards is an endurance test. Don't let the seven to eight hours of testing wear you out. Do all those smart test-taking things eat snacks, use your break time, etc.
Give each question a fair shot, but if you don't know it, pick an answer and move on and pray that it was a pilot question anyway. Remember that there are easy questions at the end of the block that you don't want to run out of time on. And when you're finished, celebrate.