The score you achieve on the USMLE Step 1 exam is definitely one of the most important numbers in your young professional career. Getting a great residency spot these days is extremely tough, and just getting any residency spot is not guaranteed, as there are approximately 2 applicants for every 1 spot available. Because of this increasing difficulty and competition, it is now more important than ever to ensure you score well on the Step 1 exam. Gone are the days of just squeaking by on the exam and still being able to easily land one of the primary care specialties.
So with that out of the way, how exactly can you approach your Step 1 exam preparation so that you can be sure to score above 200 and propel your score into the 220's and even into the 230's? The trick is to prepare thoroughly, prepare adequately, and go through the following 5 steps to be sure you cover all your bases:
Step #1 - Study the dry material first
Things like acid-base, biostats, and other topics you find difficult to study and master should be attacked early and intensely. The key to ensuring adequate preparation on these topics is to make meticulous notes on them once, then use only those notes as your review for the rest of your career. By doing this, you will have all of the information you need in one place and be able to master it properly.
Step #2 - Review your least favorite material frequently
In order to ensure you don't let your least favorite materials escape from your mind, take your great notes on these topics and review them frequently. When you do this, you will slowly move this information into your long-term memory and will not have to bother with it come exam time.
Step #3 - Create charts and tables for facts
Since the Step 1 exam is highly built on facts, create tables in order to organize this information and make its mastery that much easier for you.
Step #4 - Less study sources = more
When you have all of these crazy study guides, it makes it difficult to concentrate and actually get down to studying.
Step #5 - Start doing questions early
Most students will wait until they are in full preparation mode before starting questions, instead you should start them in your basic sciences and take solid notes at this time. When you do this, you build the foundation of your knowledge earlier and you will make the actual Step 1 preparation less stressful and much more fulfilling, which will ultimately lead to a better score on your Step 1 exam.
Do you want a Step 1 study guide written by someone who has recently taken and aced the Step 1 exam?
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