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.