5 Awesome Tips to Help You Study Effectively for the USMLE

usmle study tips for students

The United States Medical Licensing Examination, or USMLE, is an important test for anyone who wants to be a physician or surgeon in the US. It’s also a difficult test and one that requires months and months of preparation. Below, you will find five of the best tips to help you study for the USMLE.

Tip #1 – Start Early

All too often, medical students wait until the last few weeks before the exam to start cramming information. Though some research suggests that it may be beneficial to review certain types of material just before an exam to help with information retention, it’s typically best to start studying well before the exam. Absorb new information once or twice each week, then for the rest of the week, review all the information you have learned so far. This is the best way to truly learn information in a way that will serve you well on your exam.

Tip #2 – Study Frequently

There’s nothing wrong with a once-a-week study session with your favorite group, but it’s important that you set aside some time every single day for study. The longer you go between reviewing your materials, the higher the chances that you will forget what you have learned. Successful medical students set aside at least an hour every single day for study, though many set aside even more time when they can. Taking a day off from studying now and then is also encouraged as it can help you avoid burnout.

Tip #3 – Use a Variety of Study Tools

As a medical student, you can glean your information from a wide variety of sources. Information covered on the test will be covered in your classroom lectures, of course, but you’ll also need to read your textbooks, create flashcards to help with memorization, and more. Utilizing a quality USLME qbank is another great option since it gives you the opportunity to experience a mock exam and review your progress over time. Similarly, though studying alone can be productive, sometimes it might benefit you to study with a group. Use all the tools available to you for the best possible results.

Tip #4 – Ask for Help

Everyone struggles with certain topics now and then. Maybe you’re a whiz when it comes to anatomy, but pharmacology has you stumped. This is another great reason to join a study group that consists of a few students. Each of you will have your own inherent strengths and weaknesses, and you can help each other find new ways to learn and retain critical information. If you must, email a professor or colleague and ask for help. Often, they don’t mind providing you with some extra knowledge, and they may even be able to point you toward new resources.

#5 – Take Mock Exams

Mock exams are one of the best study tools of them all. They allow you to imagine yourself in the real testing environment, but they give you options that the test environment doesn’t. For example, when you finish your mock exam, you can easily go back through the questions, review what you’ve missed, and even learn why your answers were incorrect. Then, you can flag those questions for study later, or you can even create a new mock test down the road comprised of nothing but questions you previously answered incorrectly. The possibilities are limitless.

Studying for the USMLE can be a challenge, and for some students, it’s one of the most stressful periods in their lives. With the five study tips listed above, it’s possible to make it a little less exhausting, a little less difficult, and a lot more productive. Start early, study frequently, and use all the tools available to you. Finally, never hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

 

The Best Advice for Acing the USMLE

MCCQE Examination

If you’re like many students who will be taking the USMLE later this year, there’s a very good chance you’ve spent several hours reading blog posts, scouring forums, and looking for the best possible advice available for acing it. Though there’s no one magic recipe that works for everyone, there are a few things you can do that will drastically improve your chances of not only passing but doing so with flying colors.

Study Religiously

Everyone who’s ever scored a 99 on the USMLE will tell you the same thing: the key to acing the exam is studying. Though there are a few exceptions out there, most people can’t simply sit down at a computer and fly through the questions with a perfect score without putting in an incredible number of study hours. No matter how busy your schedule between school and work, you must set aside some time every single day for studying – no exceptions. This is the only way to ensure the information is ingrained in your mind in such a way that when test day comes, you have no trouble at all recalling answers.

Use the Right Study Materials

It is also important to remember that no two people learn the same way, so you’ll need to make certain that you’ve tried various study methods. Whether you respond better to lecture-style learning, quiet reading, using flash cards, or like many other students, online question banks, try to discover which of these methods gets you the best results and then stick with that. Of course, you should use the other methods to your advantage as well, but if question banks seem to help you memorize information better than textbooks, try to schedule most of your study time around the question banks.

Learn More about the Exam Itself

Though a lot of students spend a great deal of time learning the material that will be on the exam, they fail to spend much time learning about the exam itself. Via the USMLE website, you can find out everything you need to know, including how the exam works, how to apply, the fees you can expect to pay, and even get access to your scores and transcripts after you’ve taken the exam. It’s always a great idea to check the USMLE website often for information, and reading the FAQs can help you familiarize yourself with many different aspects of the site and the test itself.

Keep Calm and Prepare Yourself

It may seem tough to stop thinking negatively at times, especially when you come across specific topics or material that seem intimidating or difficult. In these cases, rather than worrying about your ability to learn the material, continue to go over it in different ways using different methods. If it still seems too difficult, reach out to professors at your school or ask about mentors and tutors who may be able to provide you with the insight you need. Allowing anxiety to take over will only make it more difficult for you to learn.

Though acing the USMLE is a great feeling, it’s important to remember that you don’t need a perfect score – you only need a passing score. You should always do your very best but be careful about allowing your desire to achieve perfection hinder your ability to properly study. Above all else, know you can do it, and be sure that you put in the time to study the right materials.

 

Important Things to Know Before Taking the USMLE Step 1 Examination

USMLE Step 1 Examination

If you are preparing to take the USMLE Step 1 exam, you may be feeling stressed out, apprehensive, or even terrified of failure. One of the best things you can possibly do is educate yourself as thoroughly as possible, and the following bits of information are sure to help you do just that.

Test Format

Familiarizing yourself with the test format can help you feel more at ease when it comes time to test, and fortunately, the first part of the USMLE is pretty cut-and-dry. It consists of seven sections made up of 40 multiple choice questions each, and you’ll have a total of eight hours to finish it. You’ll get a total of 45 minutes during the test session for breaks, but if you finish a section before the allotted hour is up, you can use that time to take a break, too. It’s always a good idea to participate in the optional 15-minute tutorial just before the exam that will help you feel even more at ease.

Application Steps and Cost

To apply for the USMLE Step 1, you will need to apply through the NBME, or National Board of Medical Examiners. If you are from a country outside of the US, you need to register with the ECFMG, or Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. You will be able to choose a test date from a number of available dates throughout the year, and as of 2018, the cost to take the USMLE Step 1 exam was $605.

The Best Time to Sit for the Exam

If you are curious about the best time to take your exam, it’s important to know that most students opt to sit for it sometime between their first and third years in medical school. You should be able to pass once you’ve passed all your basic medical science courses, and you should always take it before you start your clinical rotation. If you take it at this point, the things you’ve learned are still fresh, but you’ve also had the opportunity to take a couple extra months to study.

Passing Scores and Test Results

In order to pass the USMLE Step 1 examination, you will need to obtain a score of 192. As of 2016, the NBME reported that the average score among passing students was 225 with a standard deviation of about 20. The NBME releases scores to students each Wednesday of the year, and it takes about a month after you’ve taken the exam to get your scores. When they are available, you will receive an email advising you how to check your score online.

The USMLE Step 1 is an important step in obtaining a license to practice as a doctor in the US, and while it can be a stressful event, learning more about it will help you relax and obtain a better score. Remember that you can take this exam as many as six times in your lifetime, too. Study hard and do well in medical school, and you should have no problem obtaining the required score of 192.