By Eric Brown
The United States Medical Licensing Exam, (USMLE) Step 1 exam is conducted to test a candidate’s ability to apply their theoretical knowledge and concepts while practicing medicine. Because of the intensive nature of this exam, you need to ensure you are in the best mental and physical health while preparing for this exam. Here’s what you can do to ensure you are in the perfect state of mind when the examination date is approaching:
- Structure Your Study Sessions Ahead of Time
Plan your study sessions well in advance and structure your coursework over the preparation period you have while keeping aside time to revise your coursework when the exam is nearing. As the exam date approaches work on perfecting what you know by scheduling more time to review your coursework as opposed to studying new material to avoid getting confused.
2. Solve Mock-Tests
Taking mock exams and solving sample papers are a great way to reinforce your recall skills. The key is to practice recall. But bear in mind that the practice questions are usually harder than the actual exam and you shouldn’t panic if you can’t answer it. Instead, ask a friend or someone experienced with USMLE coursework to help solve your doubts. There are multiple USMLE training centers that you can go to to get your doubts cleared or evaluate your coursework.
3. Your Expected Score Should Be Ascertained Keeping Your Specialty in Mind
Prepare yourself to take the exam depending on the specialty you would want to pursue upon receiving your medical license. While the ranges of the qualifying scores vary from year to year, certain departments require a higher score to qualify than others. For instance, departments such as Radiology, Dermatology and Plastic Surgery always requiring higher scores, which usually start around the 240 cap, other specialties such as Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Physical Medicine require scores starting from 220 approximately. So, prepare yourself for the exam as per your preferred specialty.
4. Be Realistic
It is important to carefully assess your capabilities and knowledge while setting benchmarks for yourself. While it is necessary to push yourself, don’t overdo it and burn-out before the exam. Understand what you can achieve and work accordingly.
5. Follow a Well-balanced Schedule
Apart from your study schedule, set an ideal schedule for your day. Apart from setting specific study times, also factor in your sleep and rest schedule to avoid overburdening yourself. You must ensure that you get at least 6-7 hours of sleep each day to be able to process and assimilate all the information you are required to remember. Pick the ideal time you’d like to wake-up and go to bed and plan the rest of your day according to that!
Pro Tip – If you have some extra time on your hands, you can even schedule a visit to your exam center in order to familiarize yourself with the location, the route, the parking arrangement, etc., to avoid any mishaps on the day of the exam.
And there you have it – all the things you need to do apart from studying to ensure you stay on track during your preparatory period and successfully qualify for the USMLE Step-2 CK!
Eric Brown is a standardized patient (SP) who lives in New York and advises NYCSPREP with their Clinical Skills course. He has a BA from a liberal arts college in the north east, where he majored in the the atrical arts and business (he credits the first for his ability to simulate real patients). He’s amassed years of experience as an SP and keeps up to date with CS exam expectations, trends and developments. When the Phillies are in town, Eric considers it his duty to support his home team. He won’t be seen without his trusty catcher’s mitt on these occasions, and prides himself on having caught more than one foul ball with it. If you have any questions about standardized CS exams or courses at NYCSPREP, email Eric at email@example.com or visit www.nycspre.com