Why So Many Medical Students are Terrified of their Board Exams

USMLE Step 2 Test Prep

Medical students experience myriad emotions during their time in school. These range from sheer exhaustion and apprehension to outright fear of failure. The driving force behind fear, at least for many students, is the board exams – the very exams that provide you with the licensure you need to put medical school behind you and step out into the world as a physician. Here’s what all medical students should know about overcoming the fear of failure.

The Problems with Fear

Some fear throughout your life is perfectly normal, and in many cases, it’s even beneficial. According to an article in Psychology Today, fear is necessary for keeping you safe, but too much of it can be incredibly counterproductive. In some cases, medical students experience such fear and dread surrounding their board exams that they simply cannot study effectively, and then when exam day comes, they stare blankly at their screens, paralyzed by the fear that they will not succeed.

Why the Boards Cause Fear

The boards induce stress in medical students for a variety of reasons, but stress seems to be the most common. The boards are the culmination of years of studying, years of sleepless nights, and in many cases, years of social life put on hold to prepare for a future in medicine. In some cases, students’ parents or guardians mortgage their homes or take out massive loans to finance their educations, so the fear of letting down their loved ones is also very real. Finally, there’s a fear that failure will prove students inadequate; if they cannot pass the licensing exam, perhaps they were not meant to be doctors after all. These fears can all be overcome.

How to Put the Fear Behind You

Every medical student experiences some degree of fear related to the medical licensing exam, but the good news is that there are several ways in which you can overcome it and succeed.

  • Study Often and Effectively – Whether you choose to utilize textbooks, printed materials, your own notes, or question bank software, make sure that you’re studying as much as possible, and make sure that you are utilizing different study methods to help ensure comprehension.
  • Eat and Stay Hydrated – Believe it or not, a poor diet and lack of hydration can not only make it more difficult for you to comprehend and retain information, but it can also exacerbate feelings of fear. Eat a healthy mix of proteins, complex carbs, and good-for-you fats, and make sure you’re getting your 64oz (or more!) of water each day.
  • Learn Self-Calming and Relaxation Techniques – Finally, you can actually train yourself to respond to fear in a better and more productive way through deep breathing exercises, meditation or prayer, and even progressive muscle relaxation techniques. The more you practice these, the simpler they become, and eventually you will find yourself able to relax in even the most stressful of situations.

Fear is not your enemy. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal response to stress and danger that could very well save your life at some point. It is also perfectly normal to experience some fear and apprehension related to your board exams, but it is critical that you learn to overcome it. Preparing yourself for your exams, keeping your body healthy, and learning how to relax in the face of fear can help you do just that.

 

5 Things to Look For when Choosing Question Banks for a Medical Licensing Exam

USMLE Step 2 Test Prep

Thanks to the internet and improvements in technology, you have your choice when it comes to question banks for medical licensing exams. There are dozens of them available, but not all of them are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. Here are five things you should look for when choosing the question bank platform that is right for you.

#1 – Plenty of Questions

When choosing a question bank, it is critical that you find a provider that offers you more than just a few hundred questions. In fact, look for question banks with thousands of questions that allow you to take mock exams numerous times without seeing the same question twice. Better still, make sure that those questions are broken down into categories and topics for easy referencing later.

#2 – Customization Features

Customizing your question bank will give you more study opportunities than ever before. For example, if you understand pharmaceuticals but you struggle with anatomy, you should have the ability to customize your questions to show you only those that you need help with. Similarly, you should be able to choose only questions you haven’t answered, and you should also be able to study in various modes. A timed mode makes your session feel like a real exam while a study or tutor mode is more relaxed.

#3 – Accurate Questions with Answers and Explanations

No question bank will help you pass your medical licensing examination if the questions aren’t broad in scope and accurate. In fact, if you choose a less-than-reputable provider that is not known for its accuracy, you may actually be harming yourself more than helping yourself. Ensuring that each of the thousands of questions available to you has an answer and an explanation will also help drive comprehension and make it easier for you to retain information on test day.

#4 – Accessibility & Community Features

The platform you choose should be highly accessible, and it should also give you access to an entire community of medical students and professionals who want to help each other succeed. Make sure the platform you choose is available not only on your desktop or laptop, but also on your mobile device and/or tablet so you can get some quick studying in from anywhere. You should also look for things like Facebook groups and even YouTube channels that provide you with access to a community.

#5 – Affordable Pricing

Medical students sometimes struggle to maintain their finances throughout school. Even though many have jobs, the amount of time they can work is limited by their need to study. Too many question bank providers require a massive one-time purchase that is well out of many students’ budgets, but others offer budget-friendly subscription options with monthly payments and no long-term contracts. This means you can use the platform only as long as you need it without fear of overpaying.

Choosing a question bank platform may seem overwhelming, but when you take the time to look for these important features, you can rest assured that you are making the right choice. CanadaQBank offers all of these and more to help medical students around the globe succeed.

Using Video to Reinforce Ideas while Studying for Your Medical Exam

video studying

Medical licensing exams are difficult, and they are packed with content that takes years of education to understand. For some students, simply listening to lectures and reading textbooks is not enough to help them reach the level of comprehension they need to succeed. That’s why using video to reinforce ideas while studying for your medical exam is so very beneficial.

How Popular is Video in the Classroom?

Across all grade levels – from kindergarten all the way through medical school – teachers and professors utilize video as a powerful learning tool. In fact, research shows that some 94% of all teachers have effectively used videos during any given academic year and found it effective. Some believe it is even more effective than traditional learning via textbooks and lectures, too.

Reasons to Consider Using Video as a Medical Exam Study Aid

The reasons to use video as a study aid while preparing for your medical exams are many, but you can find some of the most important ones below.

  • Video triggers the visual processing center in your brain. Though the human brain is certainly capable of absorbing the information we read and hear, it is far better equipped to learn by processing information (other than just words) that we see with our eyes. It’s faster than reading, and our brains retain the information we learn through video for a longer period, too.
  • Video is powerful self-study. Reading words in a textbook or answering multiple-choice questions is a great way to reinforce your knowledge, but when it comes to learning in the first place, visual learning is best. That makes video a powerful means of self-study and by far the best way to learn new things.
  • Videos offer context. Textbooks often attempt to put things into context, but when it comes to complicated diseases or pharmaceutical contraindications, context can be hard to understand. In a video, it is possible to combine demonstrations and information in such a way that the context becomes clear.
  • Videos are like illustrations, but better. Finally, if you rely on illustrations in books to help you better understand concepts, you will find video to be one of your most relied-upon tools. There is no better way to illustrate than with a moving picture.

Video and Critical Thinking

Finally, it is important to note that video is one of the most powerful ways to promote critical thinking in both children and adults. The connection between visual cues, the processes of forming memories, and the ability to recall new knowledge is very strong, and above all else, it gives students the ability to learn how to think critically and infer outcomes. Over time, students who use video to learn more about medical topics come to understand those topics more thoroughly – and able to recall them more quickly and accurately – than students who did not use video.

As you can see, video is a powerful tool in any medical student’s arsenal, and it’s one that can help students who might otherwise struggle with comprehension, context, and recollection succeed. Whether you watch documentaries, videos that come along with your medical school courses, or even YouTube videos from reputable sources, you are sure to find videos a great addition to your study sessions.