Tips to Help You Perform High on the USMLE Step 1

Do you want to conquer the USMLE Step 1 with confidence and achieve your dreams? Well, CanadaQBank has your back!

In the paragraphs below, we’ll dive into five main practical tips to help you perform at your best on this crucial exam. From effective study techniques to mental preparation.

Let’s get to it!

What to know about the Step 1 exam

When it comes to medical school, the USMLE Step 1 exam is notorious for being incredibly tough and stressful. People say it’s the hardest test you’ll ever face in your medical education. But why does it matter so much?

Well, how you perform on this exam can have a significant impact on the clinical rotations and residency programs you’re able to secure in the future. This is very important if you want to land residencies like neurosurgery.

While you’ll encounter various exams during your time in medical school, Step 1 is the only one that’s standardized and truly assesses your academic performance.

That’s why passing your Step 1 is crucial. Top-notch residency programs are highly competitive, and they place a lot of importance on your Step 1 scores.

Often called “The Boards,” this exam evaluates a range of critical aspects, including:

  • Grasping the fundamentals of basic sciences.
  • Demonstrating self-discipline and focus.
  • Having the aptitude for effective study techniques.
  • Absorbing and retaining a massive amount of technical information.
  • Exhibiting the determination and ability to shine when it counts the most.

Now, let’s look into some valuable tips that will help you navigate the USMLE Step 1 exam successfully.

1.   Step 1 is Mainly a Test of Basic Science Knowledge:

While there are a few clinical questions in Step 1, the majority of the exam focuses on your understanding of basic science topics, such as

  • Experiment interpretation.
  • Basic physiology.
  • Basic biochemistry, and
  • Recognizing histopathological slides.

So, rather than going overboard with clinical questions during practice exams, concentrate on studying pathways, mechanisms, pathology, biostatistics, genetics, and experiments.

Tip: For comprehensive practice, tap into the vast question bank provided by CanadaQBank. We cover a broad range of topics necessary for Step 1 success.

2.   Expect to Encounter Theoretical Experimental Questions:

A considerable number of questions in Step 1 require you to interpret experimental results. These questions can be complex and challenging, putting your ability to grasp multiple concepts at once to the test. So, you should be prepared for questions related to physiology and pharmacology that involve theoretical experiments.

To perform well in Step 1, aim to understand the intricacies of pathways, mechanisms of enzymes, and medication actions. Then, familiarize yourself with the names of commonly used anti-coagulant and anti-platelet medications. If you’re not a fan of theoretical experimental questions, CanadaQBank can help you by giving you access to several certified resources.

3.   Brace Yourself for Lengthy Questions:

When it comes to the USMLE Step 1, most questions are very long! The sheer amount of reading can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s crucial to prioritize proper rest and hydration

Also, eat brain-friendly foods and take strategic breaks. The exam makers intentionally include unnecessary information and details that aren’t relevant to answering the question. Don’t let them throw you off! Stay focused on identifying the pertinent details required to answer accurately. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself what the simplest possible answer is and work back from there.

To help yourself with this, use CanadaQBank’s diverse set of practice questions. This varies in length and format to train your stamina and enhance your ability to read and comprehend efficiently.

Tips to Help You Study Better

1.   Create a Good Study Plan:

The USMLE Step 1 exam covers a wide range of topics. That’s why you need to have a well-structured study plan. You must take the time to understand the content outline. Then, you must break it down into manageable study blocks. After you’ve done that, map out your schedule, making sure you give attention to each topic and allowing ample time for review.

However, remember to be flexible and adapt your plan as needed. Anything can come up.

Tip: CanadaQBank offers an extensive collection of practice questions for USMLE Step 1 that can help you become comfortable with experimental scenarios and reinforce your understanding of these concepts

2.   Pick the Right Resources:

The right study resources can make a world of difference in your preparation. Remember to start with classic textbooks, such as First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. They provide a comprehensive overview. Then, supplement your reading with online question banks, like CanadaQBank, to test your knowledge. You can practise answering Step 1 style questions here. Also, ensure your resources align with your learning style. This is to help you grasp the concepts effectively.

3.   Read Actively

Learn how to read and learn actively! You should use active learning techniques to maximize your knowledge retention. To do this, break down complex topics into smaller parts. Then, create visual aids like diagrams, concept maps or even doodles. You can also practice by explaining the material out loud. Or you can teach it to a study partner. Talking it out will solidify your knowledge. Also, a good way to actively learn is to get involved in study groups or online forums. Then, discuss difficult concepts and learn from them.

4.   Learn Good Test-Taking Skills

The USMLE Step 1 isn’t just about knowledge. You need strong test-taking skills. That’s why you must understand the exam format, time constraints, and question types. After you’ve familiarized yourself with it, start learning strategies to approach different question styles. For instance, eliminating obviously incorrect answers and making educated guesses when needed. A good way to practice is by making use of the question banks on CanadaQBank and practicing them often.


Remember, CanadaQBank is always there for you no matter what, so you should never fear the USMLE Step 1. But remember, exams require dedication and a strategic approach. By understanding the exam format, leveraging these high-quality QBanks and implementing effective test-taking strategies, you’ll be well-prepared to excel on this exam.


How CanadaQBank Can Help You Ace Your SMLE exam

The Saudi Medical Licensing Exam (SMLE) is for Saudi graduates who are planning to practice medicine in any field of specialty and those who wish to participate in an internship or residency. There are four sections: First Aid and Basic Life Support, English Language Proficiency, Psychological Evaluation, and Integrated Clinical Skills.

The SMLE is based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health in 2009. The exam also includes a diagnostic skill test related to which area you want to specialize in, such as cardiology or urology.

With CanadaQBank, you get exclusive access to 4488 of the best carefully picked SMLE multiple-choice questions for you to practice with 24/7. We know you won’t get all the questions right on your first attempt, so we compiled a list of answers and detailed explanations to help you know where you got it wrong and how to improve on it for better performance in your exams. With us, the only option is acing your SMLE. We guarantee you’ll pass your exams or get three months free.

Exam criteria for SMLE

The exam is a mandatory exam taken by all Saudi medical students and non-Saudi medical students who seek registration in Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. It is a written test and covers the following topics:

  1. Medical ethics and law
  2. Pharmacology/pharmaceutics/chemical therapeutics
  3. Biochemistry/biological sciences (e.g., immunology)
  4. Human anatomy & physiology
  5. Pathology & clinical microbiology

The applicant must be a Saudi national or a non-Saudi national who is eligible to take this examination and has completed all of the following:

  1. Verify your academic details with the data flow.
  2. If you’re a practitioner residing in Saudi Arabia, create a Mumaris account.
  3. Enrolled in an approved clinic or hospital; and
  4. Have passed all required exams at least 30 days before their scheduled date
  5. Evaluation of the applicant’s electronic file and data.
  6. The applicant must be enrolled in a licensed medical college and obtain a certificate stating that he has completed the requirements of medical education by regulations (ministry of higher education). This must be approved by the authority responsible for licensing colleges in his country.

The Saudi licensing examination is conducted through a computerized system and is available on the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties website. To apply for this exam, you need to fill out an application form which must be submitted before the registration deadline. You can also download it from their website if you don’t have constant access to the internet or if you want to complete your application offline.

Submission of an official willingness from the applicant to take this examination.

You must submit an official willingness from the applicant to take this examination. The applicant must be enrolled in a licensed medical college and obtain a certificate stating that he has completed the requirements of medical education by the regulations. This must be approved by the authority responsible for licensing medical colleges in his country (ministry of higher education).

SMLE Exam process

The exam consists of two parts; Part 1, which is held in Saudi Arabia, and part 2, which is held in your own country.

Part 1: This is a written test that takes place over three days. You will have 90 minutes to complete each section. You are expected to answer 50 questions correctly out of 60 total questions in each section. If you fail any section more than once during this period, then you will lose 5% of your total score for that exam session.

Part one of the SMLE evaluates your knowledge of basic science, clinical medicine, and skills related to patient care. It consists of multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology; diagnosis; treatment approaches; signs/symptoms/complaints; risk factors for disease progression.

Part 2: This clinical exam lasts for about 24 hours and covers numerous topics, including anatomy/physiology; pathophysiology/diagnosis; pharmacology; physical examination skills such as blood pressure measurement (BP)

Part two consists of multiple-choice questions pertaining specifically to your country’s systems & policies governing licensing practices within that jurisdiction; how these policies affect health professionals’ ability to practice effectively without violating any laws or regulations governing privileges granted under such licenses issued by other authorities outside its borders (i.e., residency programs).

The test includes multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blank questions, and short answer questions. The test is designed to assess and evaluate the quality of physicians with a medical degree who wish to practice in Saudi Arabia.

Each case simulates a real-world scenario that you may encounter as a physician. The cases are written in Arabic, but you can still read them and apply the knowledge and skills learned from previous exams.

The cases are designed to be realistic, not just theoretical or hypothetical situations. They will test your judgment, not just your knowledge of medical terminology and procedures.

How to pass your SMLE with CanadaQBank

We want you best prepared before taking your SMLE exam; that is why we have gathered over 4000 multiple choice questions covering all categories vital in passing your SMLE exam. It doesn’t stop there, our real MCQ interface gives you a true simulation of the exam – this way you can feel the pressure and get used to it. Our MCQ interface was specifically designed for those who have exam fever to help keep you calm when you finally go for your SMLE test.

We offer continuous updates to keep you on track with new questions and answers to better prepare you for any surprises ahead. You will be able to see your cumulative performance and your performance by category to see which subjects you need to improve on. Tests are timed, so you don’t get too comfortable. In due time and with frequent practice, you will be able to complete your exam in a shorter time.

Note that apart from the SMLE, CanadaQBank also provides extensive resources for many other medical exams such as PLAB, PEBC, USMLE, RCSFE, and so on.

FAQs about Saudi Medical Licensing Exam

Here are the most common questions asked about the SMLE exams. Read them carefully to get familiar with everything you’ll need to guarantee your success.

What are the categories in the exam?

The Saudi medical licensing exam is divided into two levels: Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 consists of a multiple-choice test that you must pass to be qualified to sit for the Level 2 exam.

How much time does an average student take to prepare for SMLE?

The average time to prepare for the exam is 3-4 months. Students with no experience in medical exams should start preparing at least six months before the exam, while those with previous experience can start preparing at least three months before the exam.

How much does it cost for a student to apply for SMLE?

The cost of applying for the Saudi Medical Licensing Exam (SMLE) depends on the number of attempts you wish to take. The first attempt costs SR5,000, and subsequent attempts are free.

What is the exam format?

The Saudi Medical Licensing exam consists of a multiple-choice test. The exams are conducted in Arabic and English, with an option for the candidates to take it in both languages for the first level only.

How many questions are there?

There are 100 questions in each part of the exam. Part 1 has 70 multiple-choice questions and 30 short answer questions, while Part 2 has 50 multiple-choice questions and 50 short answer answers. Part 3 is also 100 questions.

The exam has a time limit of 4 hours, but you can take as much time as you want between each question.

How long are the exams?

The Saudi Medical Licensing Exam is 4 hours long and consists of 5 sections: Clinical Medicine, Basic Science, Clinical Skills, General Skills, and a Psychiatric Examination. Candidates must pass all five sections with a minimum score of 70%.

Will I be able to work in Saudi Arabia if I fail on my first or second attempt?

If you fail on your first or second attempt, it is not guaranteed that you will be able to work in Saudi Arabia. You will have to wait for a year before retaking the exam.

Will I be able to work in Saudi Arabia without taking the exams?

The exam is not mandatory for working as a doctor in Saudi Arabia. However, you must pass both levels of the exam to work there. You can apply for this type of position directly through your local health authority or by looking online at their website.


If you are interested in becoming a physician in Saudi Arabia, you should consider taking the SMLE. Not only will it help you get into medical school and practice medicine there, but it also gives you more opportunities for employment than any other graduate program in the country.