The US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is one of the toughest examinations in existence today. About 4% of students in these programs fail the USMLE Part 1 on their first attempt, and while this can be discouraging, it is certainly not the end of the line. It is possible to retake and pass this examination if you do not allow yourself to be overcome with disappointment, work hard, and try again.
Work with Faculty
If you failed your first attempt at the USMLE Step 1 examination, which is designed to test your knowledge of the material learned in the first two years of medical school, it is vital that you work with faculty and other education specialists to figure out where you need help. Then, once you have this information, you can utilize various study methods to better familiarize yourself with the content. Through diligence and the help of those who want to see you succeed, it is possible to obtain a passing score on your second attempt.
Don’t Fall Victim to the Stigma
Many students who do not pass the exam on the first attempt feel a great deal of shame, particularly when they are the only student among a group of peers to score poorly. However, it is worth noting that students are not ostracized from their study groups or peers in these cases. In fact, your peers who have passed the exam will likely extend their knowledge and tips to help you succeed on your next attempt. Focus on learning what you need to know to provide the best patient outcomes, and never let a perceived social stigma bring you down.
Utilize a Variety of Study Methods
Often, students who do not pass the USMLE Step 1 on the first attempt are those who utilize only one or two different study methods, which can sometimes prove detrimental. Different people learn in different ways, and while some can learn everything they need to know simply by reading the material, others need to repeat it, practice it, and put it to use. Try mock exams, online study tools, flash cards, study groups, and more to give yourself access to the material from every possible angle. Make note of which method seems to provide you with the best comprehension and spend more time with it.
Keep the Facts in Mind
Finally, rather than feeling discouraged, it’s important to remember that you are not the only student who received a bad USMLE Step 1 grade. A study published in Academic Medicine looked at 129,000 students who took the exam for the first time between the years of 1993 and 2000. Though some 6% failed on the first attempt, 90% of those students ultimately graduated medical school and obtained their licensure. This means that only a very, very small percentage of students who do not initially pass the USMLE Part 1 will ultimately fail to graduate medical school.
A bad grade on your first attempt at the USMLE Part 1 can certainly be frustrating, especially if you worked hard and studied. However, there are things you can do to improve your chances of passing on the second attempt – and more than 90% of students in your position do. Utilize these tips, work hard, and focus on the ultimate goal, which is providing the best possible patient care.