Success on the USMLE Step 1 exam really does come from getting in the right frame of mind from the first day of medical school. Setting yourself up to get prepared from the very first day can help you significantly improve your score, so be sure you are studying withe the Step 1 exam in mind right from the get-go.
Along with that advice, here are three tricks for ensuring your success:
#1 – Combine your class notes with your study guide
It’s a fact that most people use a study guide in the last few weeks of their prep, so do yourself a favor and carry one with you during your classes and insert some of your class notes into the guide, as this will ensure that you not only touch on the highest yield stuff, but some of the peripheral information that you should know. What I found worked for me was to simply bring my study guide along with me to every class and to flip to whichever section we were discussing that day in class, then when something was mentioned that added to the value of the notes I would simply take note. In the long run this will give you a great tool for your USMLE preparation.
#2 – Do 1 qbank the right way
Instead of doing the same questions over and over again, take notes and truly learn the information. There is very little value in performing the same questions over and over again as all this does is test your ability to recall something you’ve recently seen. Instead, get a workbook and jot down notes with each question, taking your time and really getting the most out of your efforts. Not only will this strategy help you learn more and ultimately become a better physician, but it will save you a ton of time, energy, and money because doing multiple qbanks can really become financially troubling.
#3 – Perform at least 1-2 NBME practice exams
After you’ve prepared, now is the time to test where you stand by doing an NBME exam or two. This will tell you how well prepared you are for your exams and it will guide you as to which areas you need to work on a little bit more. The NBME exams are fantastic tools especially if you want to get into a tougher medical specialty, and can tell you if you are going to score high enough to be competitive. If you do one and you aren’t scoring high enough, go back and review then come back to see if you’ve improved your score.