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Studying for STEP1 is one of the most stressful periods of a medical student’s journey. In order to be competitive for a specialty you can, and should, only take it once and pass it. Different medical students are going to have different ways of studying for STEP 1. But there are specific tendencies in the medical school community. Here I share with you 5 pieces of wisdom:
- Going over Uworld questions for the second time
This is one of the most common things I hear medical students advise other medical students to do. Uworld is probably the most trusted and used resource for STEP1 studying. Many students use Uworld during their undedicated study period and then try to finish it and start over during the dedicated study period. The point of doing this is to become familiar with the high-yield concepts and the types of questions in the exam.
Since med students study for many hours a day, lots of them opt to get a standing desk. The standing desk helps your blood circulation, lowers the risk of weight gain, and helps with body aches, among other health benefits. This a great example of medical students applying their knowledge to their studies ;).
2. Exam Day Simulation
Taking a standardized test in a testing center is not the same as taking a test in a classroom. Testing centers have a controlled environment. You have a scheduled time for everything. Even your breaks are scheduled. Simulating your exam conditions will help you feel more comfortable, ready, and in control on exam day. What you want is to feel familiar and in control. To simulate exam day conditions you can do the following:
- Take your practice exam TIMED (If you have accommodations on test day, try to set them up for the practice exam as well).
- Wear the same outfit you will wear on test day. Amazon has a great variety of comfortable clothing comfy for studying.
- Eat the same breakfast and snacks you will eat on test day.
- Have two sheets of paper and two pens on your desk.
- Inform everybody in your household about your practice exam so they keep a quiet environment, or get yourself a pair of earplugs.
This is similar to what premed students do for the MCAT. If you are a premed student, MCAT. My experience. might be a good read for you. Other blog posts related to the MCAT on my page are Mis errores al tomar el MCAT. and Can reading help me with the MCAT?
3. Do practice exams to evaluate readiness to take STEP1
It is crucial to know what your score on practice exams is before you take STEP 1. The only way to know if your score is increasing is by doing practice exams. After you do the practice exam, evaluate your weaknesses and work on them. When you see a passing score on one or more of your practice tests, then you know you are ready to take STEP 1.
4. Limit the number of resources they use
Medical school is overwhelming already. You do not want to overwhelm yourself with hundreds of resources with specific information to review from each resource. Choose a question bank, a reference book, or an Anki deck (for example), and stick to those. Starting medical school we have to experiment with many resources. By the time we start our dedicated STEP1 studying period (after the second year of medical school), we can identify what resources work for us and stick to those.
Many students use USMLE STEP1 First Aid as their reference book. Pathoma is another resource used by most students.
5. Take care of their bodies
Working out, eating healthy, and sleeping well are crucial. You want to have an excellent performance on test day. To give a good performance you need to be sharp. To be sharp you need energy. To be energetic you need sleep hygiene, exercise, and good eating habits. A comfortable ergonomic chair, a good desk lamp, or a standing desk is also part of taking care of your body. Studying doesn’t mean suffering. Take care of yourself and success will follow.
I hope this information is useful for your future or current studies. Take care of yourself, have a plan, and thrive!
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