If you are currently getting ready to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam, then you have surely heard plenty of advice from those who have either taken the exam already or who are also in the midst of preparing. The key to success on the Step 1 exam is to follow smart principles of exam preparation, and not to follow any study "fad" that others are recommending.
The other key is to study hard and in a way that has helped you achieve success in the past. If your friend says to study a certain way because they scored a 250, but you don't like to study that way because you don't learn well, then don't do it; just because something works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for others. Stick to some sound basics for exam prep and you will increase your chances of doing the best you possibly can.
Use the following six tips to ensure you are adequately prepared:
1 - Use your class time wisely
Take note of the high-yield information your professors point out, because they have practiced and they know what will show up or not. Take note of these clues and jot them down in a workbook.
2 - Start using question banks early
Qbanks are not just for the couple months before your exam, start using them early so you have more time to absorb and learn the information properly, instead of cramming them in for a few weeks before the exam.
3 - Don't skip your rest
Studying too much and resting too little will severely disturb your ability to move the information into your long-term memory. The more you rest the better you will perform on your class tests and on the USMLE, this is scientifically proven so be sure to make time to rest adequately.
4 - Take your nutrition seriously
What you put into your body will show up on the outside, so be sure to include quality foods into your diet, as the fuel you eat will power your studying and your ability to work hard for long hours.
5 - Get a Step 1 study guide and use it together with your class notes
When you do this, you will start to recognize what is high-yield and what is not. When you learn this early, you will start to recognize patterns and this will help guide your USMLE study preparation better than simply doing it with one source alone.
6 - Base your Step 1 prep based on your class performance
If you are scoring well on your class exams this is a good indication, meaning you may not need as much time to prepare for the big test. If on the other hand you are not doing very well on your class exams, this will indicate the need for more prep time for the Step 1 exam. If this is the case, simply give yourself more time to prepare, as you definitely do not want to rush this exam and hurt your chances for success.
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